SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and, unfortunately, it's become a bit of a dirty word in the digital marketing and business world.

When done right, however, it works like a charm and makes you feel like a champion.

We're not going to lie and say "We're the only good ones out there." Lots of digital marketing agencies are on the up and up. But too many business owners have been burned by the less than reputable outfits that the rumors spread like wildfire. SEO is bad.

But it's not. And we're going to show you why.

What is SEO?

Let's take a minute to back up and take a look at what SEO is exactly.

Search Engine Optimization - that's it.

At its core, SEO is focused on one thing and one thing only - getting your website to rank higher than everyone else for the phrases you want to rank for.

Why do this? Because the Yellow Pages are dead and the internet has now become the de facto place to go when people are looking for a service or product.

When those people search, they'll usually click on one of the top three results. And the top spot gets the lion's share of the clicks, so that's where most businesses want to be.

How does it work?

Google is the 800 pound gorilla in the world of SEO. They handle anywhere from 63% to 91% of the searches performed on the internet today, depending on what study you read. So when we (and most agencies) discuss SEO, we're talking about how to rank on Google.

While the entire purpose of SEO is to get your site ranking as close to the top of Google as possible, there are two major factors to consider: on-site and off-site SEO.

On-Site SEO

On-site SEO is essentially all the technical factors combined on your website that Google looks at in order to determine if it should be ranking well on their search engine. While Google does not publish the exact ranking factors they utilize in their algorithm, a whole lot of people have done a whole lot of testing and come up with a generally accepted list of things that need to be done right in order to get the best possible results.

If these best practices are not followed, any amount of off-site work will not have as strong of a result as possible. That doesn't mean off-site SEO won't work for the given website. Like so many things, the competition a business is facing in the form of their competitor's websites will always play a role. One factor in this is the size of the market they are competing in. Beaverton generally falls within the greater Portland market, which means, for example, a smaller HVAC company in Beaverton is going to be going up against larger HVAC companies based in Portland. There are other factors to consider, but the competition a Beaverton HVAC company will need to overcome to rank at the top for their desired search phrases will naturally be greater than that of a Roseburg HVAC company or an Astoria one. They are simply operating in smaller markets.

We always begin work with a new client by performing an analysis of their site and how it stacks up to their competitors. When possible (and it isn't always) we will go through their site and make sure it follows best practices as much as possible. Best case we'll tweak a few things here and there, worst case we'll build a new site. Usually it falls somewhere in the middle where a number of things need to be changed and optimized. More content, usually. But while that's going on, we also begin working on off-site factors. And that's where the real work kicks in.

Off-Site SEO

To read Google's guidelines, you shouldn't build any links at all. Kind of like the old baseball movie with Kevin Costner, they follow the "build it and links will come" frame of mind.

Which generally doesn't work, leaving companies like yours looking for a way to bring in more traffic. Which, in turn, requires links.

The analogy I usually give is that Google is, in many ways, like a popularity contest. The person that has the most friends is going to be the most popular and the site with the most backlinks to it is going to be on the top of the search rankings for that particular phrase.

But, like all things in life, it isn't that easy.

Links from quality, relevant locations play a much greater role than simply more links. For example, if a boat builder in Washougal, WA has links from other boat builders, from boat building associations, from fishing and recreational boating sites then Google will look at it and determine it's a boating site.

Add in some local links from the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, Google My Business, Yahoo Local, and some other local Washougal business websites, then it's going to be ranking well for being a boat builder in Washougal, WA.

However, if a boat builder in Camas has links to their website from car enthusiast sites, knitting blogs, knife makers and Japanese pop music blogs, then Google is going to be greatly confused as to what the site is actually about, despite the content on the site.

Once you start getting into bigger and bigger markets, though, there are a wide range of factors that come into play. Social media accounts, the amount of links and how quickly you get them, how strong said links are and a whole raft of other things start to effect the ranking of a website.

And for us, that's when it gets really fun.

Beaverton-Based, Portland Area SEO Rock Stars

In some ways, ranking a site is simple.

Make sure the site is set up the right way, then go through the steps of getting it ranking well.

But, like most professions, once you start getting into the details of it, it suddenly becomes more complex and difficult than first imagined.

Zipazi Digital is experienced in cutting through the noise, getting to the root of the problem and finding solutions. Our purpose and focus is to get you closer to your goals and we do that with surprising regularity. Almost as if we knew what we were doing.

If you'd like to work with a flexible digital marketing team that is focused on having you reach your goals (not ours) then fill out the discovery form today. We'll be in touch within one business day. Thank you.