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Racing to the top of Google search results with SEO

Understanding SEO — Demystify the Race to the Top of Google

By Greg Hatch

| Updated on September 2022

Setting your sights on the top of Google’s search results might seem like you’ve just signed up for the School of Wizardry, but we promise there are very real tactics that make a difference to your website’s SEO and how it ranks on search engines. 

You can get down and dirty by trying some of these tactics yourself or get in touch with our favourite Calgary SEO company (us!), but before we start crafting a plan, let’s get to know the road ahead.

What is SEO?

Remember the days when you could look in a yellow book and find the business you needed? If you wanted to list at the front you just needed “AAA” at the beginning of your name or to pay a little more to get a bigger ad. Simple.

In 2020, Google owns the book. It’s where most consumers go to find businesses they need and decide where to spend their money. But now it takes a lot more than 3 “A’s” to get to the front of the pack. That’s what SEO is for. 

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

SEO refers to all of the tactics you can use to increase your rank on Google for the searches you target.

Imagine you were in a group and were trying to vote on the best pizza. Everyone has a different set of tastes, but instead of narrowing it down, you took ALL of the requirements and put a percentage vote on each. That’s what Google has done with search rankings. It’s a combination of hundreds of requirements, but some of them matter more than others.

SEO is a list of tactics to win more of those votes.

How Much Work is it to Get “Optimized”?

When it comes to optimizing for search engines, there are some tactics that your SEO agency only needs to do once, and some that require ongoing effort and growth. 

Gold Nugget

  1. Some tactics are “one and done”
  2. Other tactics are always growing

Some of these tactics are changes made directly to your website (on-site), while others increase your online network and require working with external parties (off-site) to help increase your visibility online — for example getting more links pointing to your website.

Gold Nugget

  1. On-Site SEO refers to changes to your own website
  2. Off-Site SEO refers to your online popularity — more links, more mentions

It’s like building an award-winning house — painting the walls is a one-time task, but mowing the lawn is always needed. Likewise, your house will never win any awards unless other homeowners come to see it and talk about it — you can’t just work on the house, you also need to get people talking.

Where Do I Start?

SEO can seem complicated, especially when you need to consider external websites (not just what’s within your control on your site). 

Before you build your plan, find out where you’re sitting right now. There are a variety of tools that work in harmony with each other to help you audit your current setup. 

Try running your site through these programs:

To access the in-depth, actionable insights, talk to your SEO team, they likely already subscribe and can help you prioritize the results. This will point out items that are on fire and need to be addressed right away and others that can become a part of your monthly growth strategy.

Request a Site Audit

How Long Does it Take to Get Results?

Seeing results with your SEO plan is similar to planting your garden. You have the annuals that need to be replanted and nurtured each season, the perennials that you plant once and you enjoy year-after-year, and the trees that become pillars in your garden, but take years to grow.  

Each piece on their own is a step towards a thriving “SEO garden,” but without one of them, you miss out on the full benefit. SEO is a collection of small improvements that each contribute to your results. 

Just like a garden, some improvements will yield faster results, and others (powerful as they are) take time.

Our advice? Don’t expect to see measurable results in less than 6 months. If you’re in a highly competitive market this could even take a year, but the nice thing is you can see “lead indicators” which come before those results:

  1. Watching your search rankings as each keyword moves up through pages 5, 4, 3, and 2 on Google
  2. Tracking the number of keywords you rank for (and seeing this increase)
  3. Creating “pillar” articles/pages which seem to have hit a sweet spot and generate more traffic than the rest — above and beyond other pages

Use Google Analytics to monitor your results. You can see how many users find your site, what pages they visited and learn more about who they are as a demographic.

What Would This Really Do for My Business?

Ultimately SEO develops leads who are finding you — meaning less time chasing them and less money spent on generating sales. Imagine all of that time, effort and money being saved, instead of spent on advertising networks and convincing half-hearted leads that you’re the best.

Ideally, SEO will diversify your lead generation and become a stable pillar of “free” traffic to your website. It’s something that can grow over time and it’s an asset that builds your revenue and business valuation.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for business to be easy and to be able to stop the endless chase after new sales, then maybe it’s time to look at SEO. It will take time to get there, but if it didn’t, everyone would be doing it.

Let us guide you through search engine optimization

Contact Us

About the Author

Greg Hatch, owner of True Market and Fire Flower Apps

Greg Hatch

Greg Hatch is the co-owner of True Market, Fire Flower Apps and Amplify Community, serving as Brand Strategist, CMO, and Director (respectively). While his primary passion is for people and the world we create, he is an expert in marketing theory, SEO, brand identity, website strategy and loves chatting business.

Outside of work, Greg volunteers for his church and is on the board of Helping Families Handle Cancer. He has two amazing daughters, a beautiful wife, and two fluffy bunnies. If he ever finds free time, you’ll probably see him on the Disc Golf course.