The Ultimate SEO Guide for 2020

Many businesses know ( or think they know ) that they need SEO Services to stay relevant online, and the benefits they will get from that SEO work being implemented.

It will most definitely improve your website’s online visibility, but we would like to outline in this post why SEO can be one of the most important investment you can make on your business today.

 

We would like to start this Complete Guide on why SEO is one of the most important business investment you can make for your business.

 

1. Organic Search is most often the Primary source of Website Traffic

 

Organic Search is a massive part of most business’s website performance, as well as a critical component of the buyer journey and ultimately getting customers to either use your service or buy your products.

Everyone knows Google owns a significantly more substantial portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and the many, many others.

That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility — they do — it’s just that Google owns about 75% of the overall search market. It’s the clear-cut leader, and thus its guidelines are essential to follow.

But the remaining 25% of the market owned by other engines is valuable to your business, too.

Google, being the most visited website in the world, also happens to be the most popular email provider in the world (with more than 1 billion users). Not to mention YouTube is the second biggest search engine.

We know that a clear majority of the world that has access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.

Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines is always going to work in your business’ favour. Quality SEO and a high-quality website take you there.

 

2. SEO Builds Credibility

 

Our Goal as your marketing partner is for your business is to establish a strong foundation for a beautiful site with a clean, practical user experience that is easily discoverable in search results.

Many elements go into establishing authority regarding search engines like Google. In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of aspects like:

  • Quality backlink profiles.
  • Positive user behaviour.
  • Machine-learning signals.
  • Optimized on-page elements and content.

But establishing that authority will do more for your business than most, if not all, other digital optimizations. The problem is, it’s impossible to build trust and credibility overnight — just like real life. Authority is earned and developed over time.

Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment, but also relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust your company or your brand.

 

3. Good SEO Also Means a Better User Experience

 

Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. Few realize that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.

Google has learned how to interpret a favourable or unfavourable user experience, and positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.

Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there’s going to be a problem. And performance will suffer.

A clear example of building a strong user experience is how Google has become more and more of an answer engine offering the sought-after data directly on the SERPs (search engine results pages) for users.

The intention of that is offering users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks, quickly and easily.

 

4. Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions

 

With the rise and growing domination of mobile traffic, local search has become a fundamental part of small- and medium-sized businesses’ success.

Local SEO aims at optimizing your digital properties for a specific vicinity, so people can find you quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.

Local optimizations focus on specific towns, cities, regions, and even states, to establish a viable medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.

For example, Shoutout Digital team can do this by optimizing the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, as well as local listings relevant to the location and business sector a brand belongs to.

There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google, as well as other reviews sites like Yelp, Trustpilot (among others), depending on the industry.

 

5. SEO Impacts the Buying Cycle

 

Customers do their research. That’s one of the most significant advantages of the internet from a buyer perspective.

Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, groundbreaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.

It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.

Your business must be visible in the places people need them for a good connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers, and the businesses providing those answer.

 

6. SEO Best Practices Are Always Being Updated

 

It’s great to have SEO tactics implemented on your website and across its digital properties, but if it’s a short-term engagement (budget constraints, etc.) and the site isn’t re-evaluated consistently over time, it will reach a threshold where it can no longer improve because of other hindrances.

The way the search world evolves, basically at the discretion of Google, requires constant monitoring for changes to stay ahead of the competition and, hopefully, on Page 1.

Being proactive and monitoring for significant algorithm changes is always going to benefit the brands doing so.

We know Google makes thousands of algorithm changes a year. Fall too far behind, and it will be tough to come back. Our SEO specialist at Shoutout Digital helps to ensure that it is avoided.

 

7. Understanding SEO Helps You Understand the Environment of the Web

 

With the always-changing environment that is the World Wide Web, it can be a challenge to stay on top of the changes as they take place.

But staying on top of SEO includes being in the loop for the significant changes taking place for Search.

Most business owners won’t have enough time to stay up-to-date with what’s happening with all the algorithm changes. That’s where we come in to take that pressure away from you so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

 

8. SEO Is Very Cheap

 

Sure, it costs money. All the best things do.

But SEO is relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considered in terms of a brand’s benefit and bottom line.

This isn’t a marketing cost; this is an actual business investment. Proper SEO implementation will hold water for years to come. And, like most things in life, will only be better with more attention (and investment) it gets.

 

9. It’s A Long-Term Strategy

 

SEO can (and hopefully does) have a noticeable impact within the first year of action being taken, and many of those actions will have an effect that lasts more than several years.

As the market evolves, yes, it’s best to follow the trends and changes carefully. But even a site that hasn’t had a boatload of great SEO recommendations implemented will improve from basic SEO best practices being employed on an honest website with decent user experience.

And the more SEO time, effort, and budget that is committed to it, the better and longer a website stands to be a worthy contender in its market.

 

10. It’s Measurable

 

While SEO doesn’t offer the easier-to-calculate ROI like that of paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.

The big problem is trying to connect the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions taken.

Still, it is worth understanding how specific actions are supposed to affect performance and growth, and hopefully, they do.

Any good SEO is going to be aiming at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge.

Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance, especially for SEO when they have a person/company that is being paid to execute on its behalf.

There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either. We all know the data never lies.

 

11. SEO Brings New Opportunities to Light

 

High-quality SEO will always find a means of discovering and leveraging new opportunities for your business to, not just be seen, but to shine.

Offering a great SEO strategy and plans to businesses means submersing our SEO experts in everything that is your business. It’s the only way to truly market your business with the passion and understanding that business owners have for it: becoming a business owner.

The better a brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help it thrive. The same can be said about SEO.

 

12. If You’re Not on Page 1, You’re Not Winning the Click

 

It’s no secret in the world of SEO that if you’re not on Page 1, you’re likely not killing the organic search game.

A recent study shows that the first three organic search ranking positions result in nearly 40% of all click-throughs, while up to 30% of all results on Page 1 and 2 don’t get clicked at all.

What’s this mean? Two things:

  • If you’re not on Page 1, you need to be.
  • There are still too many instances when a user types a search query and can’t find exactly what it’s looking for.

How much is SEO?

So How Much Should I Spend for SEO?

Now that you understand the importance of investing a good quality SEO for your business.

You might be asking, how much should we actually spend for SEO?

It’s the million dollar question most business owner asks but the answer they always get from freelancers, gurus and marketing agency is “It depends”.

What most Businesses are willing to spend on SEO

A recent survey reported that less than half of all small business owners had allocated a specific budget for a good SEO strategy.

And for those the ones who allocated a budget, the majority of them are only willing to spend roughly $100 per month. Yikes!

I am sure you have received one of them. Some random email from a guy named Chris Smith guaranteeing to put your business on the 1st page of Google for only $99 per month!! What a deal, right? Wrong!

90% of small business owners have no idea how SEO works, and guys like Chris Smith ( Apologies in advance if there are Chris Smith out there who knows SEO ) knows this, and they are exploiting business owners like yourself!

You are probably saying to yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. If I don’t get results from a $99 per month SEO I will look for someone who can get it done for me. Again, Wrong!

 

The True Cost of Cheap SEO

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. SEO is no different don’t expect great results from a $99 per month SEO management.

But the real issue from a cheap SEO service is not the because you didn’t get the results and you just lost $100 the collateral damage to your business can go much deeper.

Because cheap SEO can get your website a Google Penalty and permanently wipe out the online visibility of your business.

Before committing to any SEO contracts or agreements as a business owner you need to keep in mind what strategy will be used on your website and to make sure that all strategy that the freelancer or a marketing agency is using are all compliant with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

If your website is hit with a Google penalty, it can be very costly to recover from it. For example, a few years back popular website eBay was hit by a Google Penalty and the estimated loss in revenue was around $200 million!

So How Much is a Good SEO?

It’s only natural for a business owner to ask “How much should I pay for SEO?” after all most small-business owners have a very tight budget and they look at that monthly SEO cost as an expense. But what you really should be asking is “How much am I willing to invest in SEO” because SEO is an investment for your business that will bear its fruit in years to come if done right.

There is a reason why billion-dollar companies are investing heavily in getting that first-page result in google we are talking tens of thousands of dollars. in a recent report around 3.5 billion Google searches are made every single day and businesses on the 1st page receive 90% of those clicks. And unlike paid ads like Facebook Ads and Google ads clicks from Organic traffic have a higher conversion rate.

A good rule of thumb is anything under $1000 per month should be viewed with caution since a proper SEO plan takes a lot of time, and that is basically what you are paying for. How much time a marketer or an agency is working on your business to do all the things to put your business on the 1st page.

On average, an SEO professional costs around $70 up to $200 per hour. Trying to be cheap while still expecting the same results on companies who will charges $2000 per month will only disappoint you in the end.

 

SEO Pricing Model

 

There are lots of different pricing model SEO companies implement, but generally, it all boils down to 3 different pricing structure.

Monthly Retainer – You and the SEO company agree on a particular monthly cost per for an agreed hour that the SEO professional will work on your business

Hourly rate – the SEO professional or an agency will bill you for every single hour that they work on your company again this can range to around $70 up to $200 an hour.

Pay for Performance – This type of pricing structure relies on how successful is the campaign

the cost that the agency will charge you depends on what task will be done on your website or business. A recent survey of 600 marketing agency shows that a standard SEO plan is around $1500 up to $2000 per month.

You might be asking yourself why anyone would pay a monthly retainer or hourly rate when there is a Pay for Performance pricing structure right?

Typically a Pay for Performance pricing structure allows agencies to inflate the cost on metrics that are not relevant to your bottom line, leaving your business paying for keywords that are easy to rank but does not bring any revenue to the company.

Their job is to rank keywords, and they will show you they ranked 100+ keywords and charge you an insane amount only to realize that the keywords that they ranked for are not doing your business any good.

What we always say to all of our clients. If you want faster results, you must be willing to spend more money, and if you’re going to dominate your competition, you need to pay more than them.

in simple terms, you need to spend money to make money.

What’re your Goals?

To understand how much you can invest in SEO, you need to determine what is your business goal, and why do you want SEO?

By telling us your business goals, it allows us to create a tailored SEO plan to achieve those goals.

  • Do you want to dominate your competition?
  • Do you want tons of backlinks to your website?
  • Do you want just to create content?

The answers to those questions will determine priorities as well as the volume of work required to reach your goals.

That being said, only invest money on SEO that you can afford. We don’t want you losing sleep for a minimum of 4 to 12 months because you over-committed on SEO and if this fails your whole business fails.

SEO should be viewed as a fuel to your online presence and not a be-all and end-all for your business.

Afterall a successful SEO is only one part of becoming a successful business. You also need to have a great product, excellent service, high sales, and after-sales process.

Unlike Paid Ads, an organic search campaign won’t generate results in roughly 4-12 months. You need to be asking yourself am I willing to invest around $1,500 to $2,000 per month for the next 4-12 months?

A comprehensive SEO strategy combines on-page optimization ( your website), content creation and link building.

Even done correctly, Google takes the time to recognize these efforts.
That being said, as we mentioned before the conversion rate on organic traffic (17% ) is the highest converting compared to customers gained from paid ads (1.7% ).

in today’s world, it is no longer a question of “Should I Invest in SEO?” but “How much am I willing to spend on SEO?”

marketing agency seo

So How Should I Choose The Right SEO Company?

Choosing your next SEO company can either bring your business tremendous results or wipe your online visibility. The difference between a massive increase in organic traffic and a decrease in Google rankings comes down to choosing between a good and bad SEO company.

We are sharing five tips every business owner should consider before signing that SEO deal.

 

SEO is not Black Magic

SEO, the process of optimizing to drive organic traffic to your website. Is very difficult, this also means that most business owners don’t know what it takes to achieve great results on an SEO campaign.

Any SEO agency that says that they have an insider who tells them all of the Google algorithms are usually lying. Instead, good SEO requires extensive knowledge on how search engines work, attention to detail, and constant updates since Google’s algorithm changes almost every week.

Additionally, shortcuts like buying links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking can lead search engines to demote your website. These techniques are called Black Hat SEO because they violate search engines’ rules. Once Google’s bots discover that you’re using these tools, they’ll demote your site in their rankings, which will decrease organic traffic.

SEO specialists who claim to have specialized knowledge could be using Black Hat SEO practices, for which you will ultimately pay a high price.

Find a company that can help you achieve your goals.

When looking for an SEO company, do not hire a company with the simple goal of increasing traffic since increasing traffic does not automatically translate to increased revenue.

You and your team should outline precisely what you are trying to achieve with SEO. Are you looking at increasing sales by ranking for specific products? Or are you trying to increase your website’s conversion rate?

Are you looking for help building a social following or other services that go beyond SEO?

No matter which SEO company you choose, make sure you have a clear goal in mind before making the decision.

Don’t just go by searching for ‘Best SEO Company’.

Why shouldn’t you choose an SEO company based on how well they are ranking? Some of the best SEO specialists are too busy optimizing their client’s websites rather than maximizing their website.

Some of the best SEO companies typically have a lot of long-term customers who have been referred by their professional circles to the same service. Only companies who are always looking for new clients will bother to rank for “Best SEO Company ( Insert location )” this applies to other keywords such as “Best SEO services.”

Generally, Good SEO companies already have too much business to bother optimizing for their website or paying for a spot on websites like “bestseocompanies.com” or “topseos.com” list.

This means that the best way to find a good quality SEO company is by relying on the good old’ word of mouth. Instead of asking Google, ask personal recommendations from friends and your professional circle but not your competitors.

Find an SEO company that aligns with your metrics.

Once you understand your goals and narrowed down your options to a few companies, it’s time to make sure that you and the company you choose have a precise method of outlining your progress.

Before you choose your next SEO company, you and the SEO company must be on the same page when it comes to key metrics. For example, a new business would have a different key metrics than a business who’s been operating for several years.

With hundreds of different key metrics to track such as bounce rate and conversion rates, you need an SEO company that understand which key metrics are the most important to you and your business and can turn those metrics into information that you can easily understand.

Here are some of the essential key metrics that you should consider:

Organic Sessions: How many people visit your website through an organic search? This is the most basic, and one of the most critical metrics in SEO.

Conversion rate: What percentage of visitors buy your product, sign up for your newsletter or engage with your content?

Keyword Ranking: Which keywords you are ranking for and have the ranking increased since you hired the SEO company?

Page Load Time: the time it takes for a page to load directly to how quickly people leave your site.

Communication is the key

Though you should have access to the tools they’re using to measure your KPIs — SEMRush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics— most likely, you don’t have time to spend the time to analyze all that data. For this reason, you need an SEO specialist team that works for you in terms of communication and fostering trust.

Keep in mind that SEO is a process so you could be working with this firm for years to come. Even if you only plan on working with an outside company temporarily, meeting your organic website traffic goals takes time, patience, and a constructive working relationship.

SEO is one of the most crucial business investment you can make and choose the right SEO company can have significant consequences for your business and your bank account.’

Many SEO companies make promises that they cannot keep or violate Google’s policies, ultimately hurting your business.

o Instead of turning to Google or “best of” lists, consult friends and business associates to find a qualified SEO firm.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, make sure that you and your firm are clear on your goals. Then, establish KPIs to measure those objectives. It’s also essential to choose a firm that communicates effectively so that you can foster a long and successful working relationship.

But most importantly, do not mistake SEO for a buzzword. Search Engine Optimization is a process that can help you build a successful brand — if you find the right SEO firm.

optimize google my business

How Can I Increase My Local Visibility?

If you want to get more customers visiting your store or business, then you need to claim and start optimizing your Google My Business Listing.

Over the last few years, Google has made a few changes on the Google My Business features, so much so that you may well find you’ve missed one or two, and as such are no longer using your Google My Business profile as effectively as you might think.

There are many ways how you can improve your Google My Business listing and today we are sharing a few tips to get the most out of it and drive traffic to your local store.

Why Google My Business is crucial for any business

Every business with a storefront or a physical location needs to have a Google My Business listing. It provides a lot of information to consumers and offers your company a local search presence.

Setting up your Google My Business listing is free, it’s quick and easy to setup. Once you have completed your listing, you can then start the optimization process to boost your local presence.

Your Google My Business profile needs to be updated and optimized to tell Google everything it needs to know about your business details, address and phone number.

As per a recent study, 50% of searchers who make a local search end up visiting the store on the same day. This is why small business owners must be optimizing their Google My Business listing.

Accurate Name, Address and Phone number

The first step in optimizing your Google My Business page for local search is to ensure that your foundations are done well. This means that your business name, address, and phone number or (NAP) is correct, up-to-date and consistent across local business citations.

Citation help with business discovery, they can help consumers to find your business, and they feed Google the information it needs to help rank your business. If your NAP is inaccurate on other business directories, it makes it harder for costumers to find your listing.

For example, you might enter XYZ company as your Google My Business listing, but on your Yellowpages, it’s XYZ Pty Ltd.

Here are all relevant Australian directories to list your business and to make sure the NAP is accurate across different indexes.

Detailed Business Description

Your business description should describe your business engagingly and authentically, and it shouldn’t reference sales terms and promotions. You can add up to 750 character description to your profile.

The description tells searchers about your unique selling proposition, your story, and why they should do business with you.

We recommend picking one or two keywords to build your description around and ensure that search phrase appears early in the text. To get the most out of your description, make sure you are also adding your business location in the description.

Make sure you choose the right category and sub-category.

The category plays a significant role in your local search ranking as it tells Google which searches your business could be relevant for.

As per google,

“Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer. For example, if your primary category is “Pizza restaurant”, Google may show your business in local search results to people who search for “Restaurants”, “Italian restaurants” or “Pizza” in their area.”

If you are a Pizza shop choosing the correct category is relatively simple, but that’s not usually the case for other businesses.

In some instances, there isn’t a choice that suits your business on the category selection. For example, a law firm can practice many areas of law, from corporate to environmental to family matters. If you are unsure of what category to select, the primary category should be the category that is most important to your business.

Google also mentioned that the category that you are selecting needs to be specific. For example, if you own a nail salon, your primary category should be ‘nail salon’ rather than just a salon.

Having a correct category is better for optimizing your Google My Business profile, and it tells Google what exactly do you offer.

As for the second category, it outlines additional services that you might offer. Here are some examples from Google – If you run a grocery store with a pharmacy and a deli on-premises, ‘supermarket’ should be your primary category and ‘pharmacy’ and ‘deli’ then added as secondary categories.

A picture says a thousand words

A recent report shows that 60% of consumers said that local search results with great looking images captured their attention.

Other reports also found that images give posts three times more chance of being shared on social media.

So for example, if you are a builder, make sure you are adding professionally captured photos of your work to showcase on your Google My Business listing.

Google gives you a lot of options when it comes to images so you must add photos that will capture your potential customer’s attention. If you have a great looking office or store, you can add interior and exterior photos. You can even add videos on your listing to give searchers a quick tour of your office or store.

Asks, monitor, and respond to your Google My Business reviews.

If you are looking at generating more reviews for your Google My Business listing, then check out our Reputation Management tool only available for existing clients.

The reason why you should be asking every single customer for review is that they influence the buying decision of a searcher. For example, if someone searches for a ‘Pool cleaning service’ one company on the result got 100+ 5 star reviews while the other company got 20 5+ star reviews most likely the searcher will call the business with 100+ reviews first before the different store with fewer reviews.

Generating positive reviews for your business can have a direct impact on sales.

A recent survey did also found that more than half of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars- increasingly, this means that you need reviews to generate new customers. Typically, 50% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review, 15% will visit the business location, and 13% will contact the business directly.

You are more likely to rank 1-3 if you have Google Reviews attached to your Google My Business profile.

Make sure that you create a consistent process for requesting online reviews or you can use an automation tool like our reputation management to ask your customers for evaluation automatically.

You also need someone to monitor and respond to every review Good or Bad.

Use Google Posts to showcase your business

Posts are crucial to your Google My Business listing optimization process. Posts are blogs to your Google My Business page, which can be used to update, share an offer or any upcoming event.

Google posts are a fantastic way to increase your local search visibility as well as optimize your Google My Business profile.

Here are some steps to create a post on your Google My Business listing:

  • Log in to Google My Business
  • Click on ‘Post’
  • Select post type (update, event, offer or product)
  • Upload a relevant image or video
  • Write your content (you’re allowed up to 1,500 characters)
  • Select button type to display below your Post and add your link

Add Q&A on your listing

Q&A allows searchers to ask questions about your business. The purpose of the Q&A is to give searchers and local consumers additional information about your company- which is a great way to gain local exposure and further build your profile as part of your optimization efforts.

This is essentially your FAQ’s page. The good thing about this section is you can also add questions and answer them. We suggest listing the most common questions you get from customers and combining them all on the Q&A section.

 

Be Social

 

Part and parcel of optimizing a GMB profile are ensuring it is a complete and up-to-date as possible. As we have seen throughout, there are some serious search visibility benefits to be had if you complete your profile information, often update and make the most of the myriad GMB features.

In some knowledge panel search results, social media profiles will appear alongside local business information. Google explains,

“When people search for your business on Google, they may see links to your business’s social profiles included with your other business information in the knowledge panel in search. Google gathers business information from a variety of sources and may include it to give customers a more detailed overview of your business. Social profile information is automatically added to listings for eligible businesses.”

Make sure that you complete your social media verification. This tells Google that your social media profiles are real and connected to your business. To get the most out of this part, make sure that your social media profiles are updated often.

With around 2 million small businesses across Australia, showing up on local search results is extremely important. Google knows how important local search results that’s why they have given increased focus to personalized search results that focus on businesses that are local to the searcher.

This change from Google caused a shift in how small businesses plan their SEO strategy. Years ago all you need to do to rank on the first page of Google is to build a website and hire a company to spam links to your business. That is no longer the case today.

The modern SEO requires a well-rounded and sophisticated approach to increase online search visibility.

This infographic details the 32 step you need to take to increase local visibility.

[Click here to view the full image]

local seo checklist for small business