Demystifying SEO

As a digital marketing specialist in Toronto (former newspaper reporter in Port Hope) I often find myself reading about or discussing Search Engine Optimization. I tend to forget that small business owners who need SEO services the most usually have no idea what I’m saying when I mention the acronym in convo. And since I’m rarely a salesperson, when they ask me what I do, I just tell them I’m a writer and stuff and SEO and whatever.

Here’s what I know about SEO that I think you should know to:

At some point you’ve more than likely searched the Internet for a particular product or service in your neighbourhood. Say you live in Port Hope (and you’re not a regular restaurant-goer), but you’d like to enjoy a nice dinner out for a change. Let’s also pretend you’re not on Facebook. So you search “Restaurants Port Hope” et voila! First you’ll see The Railside, Jim’s Pizzeria and Trattoria Gusto located in maps at the top of the page. These businesses have worked Google Plus to their advantage, which is a brilliant idea. And you may or may not see Google Adwords (paid search results) which is also a great advertising tool. Moving along down the page to the list of websites (where SEO comes into play), Trip Advisor takes the lead, followed by Yellow Pages and then YAY, The Carlyle Inn and Bistro, a very nice inn and restaurant on John Street downtown. You’ll also find Visit Port Hope, Yelp, Zomato, Workopolis, Goldbook, and a couple more restaurants on page two: Cravingz, The Beamish House, Wimpy’s Diner.

But let’s get real, you’re too hungry to keep searching, you’re dying for a glass of wine so you decide The Carlyle it is! Since I lived in Port Hope for over a decade, until recently, I know there are loads of restaurants and pubs and great places to eat in this town. There are more restaurants per capita in Port Hope than anywhere else in Ontario. So why are their websites buried on the pages people rarely visit?

Google and other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing want users to have a good experience, and they do this showing you websites with highly relevant, fresh content. They also consider the volume, relevance, and quality of other sites that link to, say, The Carlye, to ensure that it is truly an authority in Port Hope cuisine.

SEO, simply put, is optimizing a website to obtain a high-ranking placement in search. The Capitol Theatre should be on page one this search, enticing Port Hopers to dinner and show.

In order to move your website/business/restaurant up the ranks, here are some things you need to do:

Make sure your website has keyword phrases used in the proper areas:

  • Make sure your website has keyword phrases used in the proper areas: Delicious meal, Casual Dining, Port Hope. Your website should also load quickly, and be coded so search engines, like Google, can easily find what they’re looking for.
  • Create a link building strategy that includes guest blogging (maybe something food related), social media, and even asking customers with some online influence to link back to your website. It never hurts!
  • Figure out what keyword phrases your competitors are competing for and what you can do to improve your rank. An easy way to do this is through Google Adwords where you can input your competitor’s website address and find the key words they’re using. For Port Hope restaurants, keyword phrases might include “Sunday dinner ideas” or even “Port Hope homes for sale.”
  • Ensure your content stays fresh and is well-written. Believe it or not, there are readers out there who still have an appetite for good writing, and search engines definitely take this into consideration.

K-media works with small and medium-sized businesses to improve their Google search rankings. We specialize in SEO, writing, photography, social media, design and branding. Our boutique digital marketing agency is located in Toronto’s east end.

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