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What Is SEO?

The criteria by which Google rates websites is multifold, changeable and easily Googled for anyone to read.  The criteria’s purpose from day one has been to identify and rate websites offering the best information on a searched topic. Satisfying these criteria as best possible within budget is Search Engine Optimization.

Our Approach quote

We largely adhere to Google’s SEO guidelines, which aspire to reward websites rich in content. Below is a Q&A section that briefly discusses the use of spam by SEO companies. While no angels, we have never resorted to this sure-fire but unethical shortcut to top rankings.  We do provide a basic but very affordable SEO package in addition to several SEO features baked into our website design.

Our SEO package includes, among other things, programming of an xml sitemap and filing of this coded document with major search engines. During the next six weeks we monitor the website’s progress in search engine rankings and make various adjustments based on traffic data provided by Google and Bing analytics. After six weeks we can fairly gauge what further measures, including Google AdWords advertising, will be needed to achieve Page 1 rankings for key search terms.

Articles, blogs and press releases are among the vehicles that make websites rich in content. No matter how well optimized, a home page is limited in the number of key search terms that will command a Page 1 rating. Articles, blogs and press releases not only benefit Home page placement, but operate as independent destination pages that appear in Page 1 results for search terms related to their topics. In fact, articles, blogs and press releases can attract more eyeballs to a website than its Home age.

Contact us at (916) 481-8639 or rbechtel@rkbechtel.com for more details and a free estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions about SEO.

Question: What will it cost for my website to appear on Page 1 in a Google search?

Answer: Cost varies according to degree of difficulty. Factors that influence the degree of difficulty include:

Target Market—Generally it is simpler to compete for placement targeting a local market than a regional or national market. This is because searches often include locations (e.g., “gas stations for sale in Roseville CA” or “Sacramento tax lawyer.”)  Moreover, able to identify computers, Google often gives preference to websites in a computer’s locality. For these reasons, there is a trend among companies with national websites to also create separate state or local versions. 

Competition—But whether your market is local, regional, state or national, the extent of competition for key search terms in that market will largely determine the degree of difficulty in achieving top ratings. Also, competition is not measured by numbers alone. For instance, a website of an international corporation and websites related to it, e.g., a media outlet website featuring a business article on the company, can dominate Page 1 results. So too can a single competitor engaging in reverse SEO. This involves optimizing not only your website, but the websites of non-business rivals in order to lower the website ratings of your business rivals. Reverse SEO is also a technique for depressing the ratings of websites detrimental to a client’s reputation.

Number of Search Terms
Suppose you are a Sacramento tax lawyer. Your obvious search term is “Sacramento tax lawyer.”  Now, suppose SEO gets you a  #1 Google ranking for searches of “Sacramento tax lawyer.”  Does that mean your website will be #1 in searches for “tax lawyer in Sacramento” or “Sacramento tax attorney?” No.  The exactitude and order of words matter; SEO must take into account these variations to achieve Page 1 ratings. Now, imagine the search term challenge of a diversified firm, e.g., “Sacramento business, tax and probate lawyer.”

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Question:  If assessing cost is so problematic, how can an SEO company guarantee Page 1 Google placement at a fixed cost?

Answer: Page 1 Google placement of what? Anyone can acquire Page 1 Google placement for search terms like “Fan club of Judas Iscariot.” You need to specify the search terms you want optimized and see if the guarantee stands. Your specific search term should not include your company's name, which should be so unique as to easily achieve Page 1.

Guarantees by SEO companies are not as common as they were circa 2012 before Google began identifying websites whose SEO companies cheated. (SEO was born with the Google algorithm; so too was SEO cheating.) Most abused has been the Google criterion rewarding websites for the number of websites linked to them. Google assumes a website’s content must be substantive if other websites link to it. However, SEO companies subverted this purpose by owning and by doing business with websites created solely to influence Google rankings.

Many of these “spam” websites were far-flung—Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, China, Korea, etc.—and accounted for thousands and even tens of thousands of links to individual websites.  Then Google issued notices to the worst offending domain owners demanding that they “disavow” links from “spam” (i.e., make documented best efforts to cause all the spam websites to terminate their links.)  The penalty for not disavowing spam links is suppression of the domain in Google results.

The objective of Google's purge was more than delivering the best possible results. Today it is usually cheaper for websites wanting Page 1 placement for popular search terms to invest in Google AdWords instead of SEO.

Question:  An SEO company emailed that it reviewed my website and concluded its rankings could be greatly improved. Is this legitimate?

Answer: A review to assess strengths and weaknesses relative to Google’s algorithm takes time. To do so requires:

  • Checking html code for errors;
  • Checking the xml sitemap code for errors; 
  • Determining what key words/search terms best describe your business or product;
  • Checking to see if or how those key words were used in your page titles and metatags;
  • Auditing the volume of key words in your text and graphics descriptions.

Even if done cursorily, the time required for a review multiplied by the number websites that would need to be reviewed before acquiring one one paying client adds up to unprofitability. No one reviewed your website. This was a fishing expedition email sent to hundreds if not thousands of website owners. 

Question: We are a new company whose name is not available as a .com domain, although its owner isn't using the domain. We're debating whether to 1) try to buy the .com domain, 2) register our name with a .biz suffix, which is available, or 3) choose an alternative name that can be registered as a .com. From an SEO point of view, how important is having domain with a .com suffix?

Answer:  The notion that a .com domain is critical to being found on the Internet is a hangover of the .com era of the 1990s. Then a website could only be accessed by typing its URL (e.g., http://www.abc.com) in the address field or its domain (abc.com) in a search engine’s search field.  Although search engines became more sophisticated, they favored companies that paid for high rankings. In this “pay-for-play” era, a search for “ABC Manufacturing in Sacramento” might consist of the first two to three pages listing Los Angeles and San Francisco manufacturing companies. It remained easier to type the URL in the search field, and all URLs of private companies were assumed to have the .com suffix even after growth of the Internet necessitated additional suffixes.

This began to change with the introduction of Google and its game changing algorithm in 1998. Today, the vast majority of visitors come to a website via a search for its name only or key words that describe it. Of primary importance to Google and Bing is the title of pages and meta-tags programmed into them. To wit:

  • In Google and Bing searches, a .com domain confers no ranking advantage over domains with the same name using .org, .biz, etc.

  • A search for a company name, e.g. “ABC,” will marshal all websites with “abc” in their titles regardless of what the website’s domain is, even one like xyz.biz.

  • A domain can influence a key-word search, but by name only. For instance, in a Google search for “manufacturers of ABC devices,” domains will appear in results as www.abc.com or www.abc.org or www.abc.biz etc. The emboldened text signifies a key word, everything on either side of it being irrelevant.