Do you need search engine optimization (SEO) for your Web site?
It depends. SEO is used by companies that want to get prospects through their Web site and convert them into new clients. If you have a full practice and don't want new clients, SEO is not necessary!
However, if you are looking to build your practice, SEO is a great resource that will only become more and more relevant in the future.
Definition: SEO is a way to optimize your Web site's performance on search engine rankings like Google, Yahoo! and MSN. There is a lot of intensive programming that goes into it, but SEO companies take care of that for you and its all "back-end," meaning that the appearance and content of your Web site will be unaffected. They will build links that go to your Web site, submit your site to all the major search engines, submit your site to directories, and use many other strategies to gradually bring up your ranking.
Google and the other search engines have algorithms that decide which sites should be ranked at the top for certain keywords. They send out robots (or "spiders") to crawl all the sites on the World Wide Web to gather information. Your Web site is usually crawled once every few months. Thus an SEO campaign takes at least a few months to be effective and sometimes six months to a year to get your Web site up to the top of the rankings. Because of this, most SEO providers have a minimum of a 3-6 month contract.
The pricing usually starts around $200/month and goes up from there. Pricing depends on your competition and location. If you are in New York City, it will be much harder to get ranked high for a search like "CPA New York" compared to a local market with less competition like "CPA Tucson." This is because SEO is becoming increasingly popular and in large metro areas like NYC, there are going to be many other competing firms who are also using SEO.
Your SEO provider will give you performance reports that will allow you to see who is coming to your Web site, where they went on the site, what search engines are crawling your site, and other useful pieces of information that allow you to track the success of the SEO campaign.
SEO is not to be confused with adwords or Pay-Per-Click. These are also effective ways to market online, but SEO is used for improving your ranking in the organic or "natural" results, not within the sponsored links. Studies have shown that 70 percent of people click on the organic results, as opposed to the sponsored links. Thus SEO is used as a long-term solution for gaining clients.
By Chad Brubaker, CEO, Emochila.