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Getting back to basics

Our goal at BlackDog is to take the mystery out of SEO services by offering simple, effective and transparent solutions. We find that businesses are often intimidated with all of the SEO jargon and have a difficult time understanding the return on investment potential. We thought this would be a good place to give you some SEO basics and offer insights about the new search landscape in a multi-device world.

What the heck is SEO?

You’ve probably heard the acronym “SEO” uttered in casual conversation and thought to yourself, “What has my life come to that this is what I am talking about in casual conversation?” Anyway, it’s okay because we are here to help. First, let’s start with a short explanation. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of taking a website and supercharging it so that search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others can find it. The best part is that you don’t pay the search engines for these results. For example, let’s search for a keyword phrase and see what happens… I’m typing “Miami dolphins merchandise”…

Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The above is called a search engine results page (SERP). The green marked area of the page may be identified by several names, including natural, organic or algorithmic search results. We call them “organic” around these parts. Anyway, the idea is to make your site so attractive for words and phrases that are relevant to what you’re selling that the search engine says, “Hey, this site really looks like it contains the stuff that people are after when they are searching for ‘miami dolphins merchandise.’ I may only be a computer, but I am going to make a fancy computation and place this sucker right at the top of my results.” In this example, the search engine places the websites and in positions 1 & 2 in the organic search.

Okay smarty, so what the heck is PPC?

Glad you asked. Pay Per Click (PPC) or Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising as it relates to search engines is usually referred to as “Search Engine Marketing (SEM).” Take a gander at the top and right side of the above SERP marked in red. All of the ads in the boxes are actually paid ads. For mobile results, the ads appear in different formats and placements. In this example of a mobile search for “miami dolphins merchandise,” organic search is noted in green and paid is still in red:

For mobile and non-mobile paid results, the company that places those ads only pays if someone clicks on them. So if you look but don’t click, then no one gets charged. The amount that the company gets charged depends on how much they bid for the phrase “miami dolphins merchandise.” The higher the bid, the higher the ad moves to the top of the page, although other factors such as Quality Score also impact search rankings. Why didn’t we buy stock in Google when we had the chance?

What’s up with Google Places?

The Google Places Local Pack display of organic search listings shows right below the first AdWords results. For example, if you’re searching for hotels, you’ll see reviews and pricing information for the top ranked listings (usually the top 3 or 4). You can always see more listings than those displayed, but it requires clicking the icon at the bottom of the Local Pack scheme to take you to a full SERP showing business info, reviews, maps and prices. These Local Pack organic search results are based on Google’s algorithms, and they seem to especially apply to the hospitality industry, including keywords pertaining to accommodations, resorts, hotels and more. Read more about Google’s Local Pack on the BlackDog blog:

Show me the numbers!

Yes, we have always had the ability to track success to some degree. Coupon codes, dedicated phone numbers or a simple “How did you hear about us?” are still viable means of tracking results. Many fundamentals in marketing remain the same, but we believe that today’s ability to track and analyze client behavior and response to search engine marketing initiatives is a real advertising revolution.

Google Analytics and Adwords are way cool.

We use Google Analytics to track how your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns. Google Analytics allows us to track all sorts of important stuff about a website including visitor interaction, what sites they were referred from and even what geographical area they are surfing from. In addition, it lets us track the ROI of your Cost Per Click (CPC) campaigns, right down to the shopping cart checkout. Yes, there are some other tools out there, but we find that Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools available and is constantly evolving with new features. That’s why we set up or analyze a Google Analytics account with every one of our website projects.

I saw a guy with a sign on the side of the road selling SEO services.

There are a lot of folks selling SEO services nationally and internationally. Some are qualified, but many are not. Since there are only certifications for Google Analytics and Adwords, it can be difficult for the average company to choose a qualified SEO vendor.

Allow us to give you a heads-up on a few things. Run if your SEO vendor:

Guarantees a number one ranking in Google
That is a promise that they simply cannot make because Google is the one that determines the rankings – not the SEO Company. If they start with an untruth, it can only go downhill from there.

Solicits you from a Gmail/Hotmail/AOL email account
You mean to tell me that they don’t have a company domain name on their email? Child, please!

Optimizes for words that send you no traffic
One trick is to optimize for a word or phrase that will easily rank number 1 because there is no competition for that phrase. Guess what? There is no competition because no one searches for it and thus you never get any traffic to your site from that phrase.

Does not have the official Google Analytics and Adwords certifications
These suckers are not so easy to get and they prove that the company you are working with has been trained and tested.

They won’t give you access to your Analytics & CPC accounts
What’s behind the curtain is important. Not being able to check the stats can lead to fabrication of the numbers. Google has a strict code of compliance for Adwords Certified Partners and Agencies. Click this Google icon for more information about the disclosure policy.

Google Disclosure Policy


These answers weren’t fancy enough. If you want more information. Happy reading!

>More from Wikipedia on Search Engine Optimization

>More from Wikipedia on Search Engine Marketing

>More from Wikipedia on Search Engine Results Page


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