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So often a prospective client calls and asks “Do you do SEO?” I always giggle to myself, because it really is an odd question. I’ll get to that, but first why do business owners who have little technology experience always seem to know about Search Engine Optimization?

I was redoing a website a few years ago for a small winery in my town and the first topic they wanted to discuss was SEO. They said they receive calls, emails, and even walk-ins from people selling SEO packages. The winery owners wanted to know what it was all about. I was blown away when they told me that one of the walk-in guys had offered up a great SEO package for $1,000 a month. Now I know this guy is just trying to make a living like everyone else, but it seemed like a bit of a snake oil salesman’s move to me. Flash forward a few years and I have met many more clients who have become caught by the hook of SEO salespeople and their amazing packages, only to find out that once they stopped paying, their SEO dropped. Apparently many of these SEO packages are actually people selling Google Ads while disguising it as actual SEO. Fraudulent if you ask me.SEO.

So why is “Do you do SEO?” an odd question for business owners to ask? Well, if I am creating a website then yes I “do SEO”. A properly built website should always be carefully structured with SEO in mind. As I wrote in my blog post Why Your Website Absolutely Needs to be Mobile Friendly, Like Yesterday…, “In April of 2015 Google began demoting websites that were not mobile friendly in their search rankings.” So clearly mobile-friendly is important for SEO. Creating and linking a business Facebook page seems to help rankings, possibly because Facebook is essentially always being indexed due to its size. A good looking site that is easy to read seems to help; ugly sites seem to be demoted. Making sure all the images on your site have the proper alt tags helps by making sure screen readers can describe an image. (Oh and be sure to end that alt tag with a period and a space so that it doesn’t just run into the next line of code). Claiming your business on Google is an easy move and helps in your rankings. Submitting your site to the Search Engines is a quick and easy process that at the very least lets the Search Engines know you exist.

“But what about keywords?” clients ask, “What about this thing called metadata?” This is where it gets tricky. Metadata, the information in the head of your website, is beyond controversial. Supposedly the Search Engines ignore keywords in the metadata now because of misuse, but who really knows. So take a few minutes during the web design process and throw some keywords in the metadata, just be sure to mix them up for different pages so they are not all the same. Metadata descriptions are helpful and will show up on the Search Engine descriptions for your site, so make sure to craft these well, if not for optimization, at least because your prospective client will be able to see them. A well-written page title is very important for SEO. Don't just name your page "About", that tells Search Engines absolutely nothing. A page title like, "About Widget Makers, LLC | Durable Widgets for Scudfutters | Made in the USA." is much more effective. Use Open Graph metadata to control how your posts look on Facebook and it may just help with SEO. And of course, make sure the site has the relevant information about the business clearly displayed: what you do, where you are, how to contact you, etc. SEO is not magic, even if it seems a bit magical at times, but a well built site that meets all the standards will eventually climb in search rankings and be easily found by prospective customers.