SEO can be a complicated discussion to have with clients. Most have a general idea it has something to do with coming up number one on Google. As we build sites I always like to frame expectations on what can be expected and what will be hard to achieve. My first discussion is typically the difference between on page SEO and off page SEO.
On Page SEO
On page SEO is simply the process of identifying keywords that you want to rank for and then using those keywords properly on the site itself. If done properly this let’s Google easily index your site and know exactly what you are trying to rank for. Using those keywords in your title tags, meta description, H1 headers, etc. is a great source of ranking especially if you are ranking for a non competitive keyword in a location without much competition. For instance, if you are an HVAC contractor in a small town with only 1 or 2 competitors, on page SEO should be all you need to rank well. Especially if you have a good Google Business page so you show up on Google maps. On page SEO can be done with a new site build or added to existing sites as well.
Off Page SEO
Off page SEO is much more complicated. This should be done ALONG with on page SEO. Off page SEO requires a lot of manual work of trying to create high value backlinks that come into your site for certain keywords. Backlinks (websites that link to your site) from random sites that get no traffic no longer do any good. In fact, it can hurt. So buying backlinks is a no-no. If your local newspaper interviews you and in the online article links to your site that’s a great backlink. Or if you do a guest blog post on a good website that links back to your site, again, that’s good. But as you can tell, those things don’t happen much and there’s a lot of work to be done to find locations where there’s opportunity. If you are an HVAC contractor in a location with a lot of competition, Memphis as an example, then ranking organically can be difficult. We often advise clients it better to budget for a Google Ad campaign for those highly competitive keywords because it’s more cost effective in the long term and you know what you will get. With organic rankings there’s a lot of hours (money) involved to rank and with one Google algorithm change everything can be lost.
There’s a lot more involved but I hope that helps give a basic idea of the two type of SEO practices.