In my last post I gave a quick intro to the basics of SEO along with some practical tips you can implement on your own website to get it indexed by Google and appearing in your local search results. That might even be all you need if you’re exclusively targeting your specific local market.
But if you’re looking to be found by a larger target audience located outside of your immediate locality, then simply applying the SEO basics probably won’t help you rank on page one (or even page 2 or 3). The reason for this is a combination between competition and time.
If your business is in a competitive market, and your competitors are also investing in SEO, then how you rank in Google search is going to be directly related to what they do. Even if you try and copy exactly what it is that your top competitors are doing, you face the challenges of time and resources.
Assuming that your competitors have been investing in SEO for a while now, they’ve had the opportunity to acquire links, possibly a great many. Even if they haven’t gotten much link authority, the very fact that they’ve had their website up and running could be a major advantage, especially if you are just starting up. That’s because the data shows that Google gives preference to older domains. Sort of like good wine or beef — the longer it ages the better it becomes.
All other SEO factors being equal, a new domain will have a hard time competing against one that’s a few years old. But all SEO factors are often no equal, and there are ways to beat those older domains — but it takes resources.
In order to rank higher than your competitors you need more authoritative links and better content.
You’ll notice that I said more “authoritative” links. When it comes to links, it’s not just a numbers game. Google is looking at the authority of the website that’s linking to you, because that shows Google how trustworthy and authoritative your site is. In other words, one link from the Wall Street Journal is going to be worth hundreds of links from low quality or unrelated sites. Having links from authoritative sites in your specific industry is huge, and can significantly boost your site in the rankings.
But getting those links is not easy.
- It requires building relationships with reporters and influencers who might, one day down the road, consider including your company in an article or blog post, along with a link.
- It requires creating content that is so informative that other writers feel compelled to link to it in their own articles. Of course, you’ll need to let those writers know about your content and persuade them to use it.
- It requires building a reputation for thought leadership in your field, so that you can get other website owners to allow you to guest post on their site (thus getting a link back to your own).
Relationship building and content creation demands a significant investment in time and resources. And if your competitors are doing it too, then it’s even tougher and more resource draining.
All this negative talk doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in SEO. You absolutely should, because your potential customers are using Google to search for solutions every day. The chance of driving some of them to your site is worth the effort.
But if you want, or need, to see immediate results, then SEO is usually not the strategy to put all your money on because it’s a long term process. I believe that it can eventually pay off big time, but you have to be able to wait for it to happen and continue working on it until it does.
For short term results, your best option lies with paid advertising either on Google search or Linkedin or Facebook, depending on your business and target market.