How SEO works: How People Find Your Business On The Web

Context & Background

How SEO Works - Local business in Australia is not coping well with competing and growing on the web in general. The primary reasons are:

  • Lack of knowledge and skills to implement solutions
  • Lack of trust – often justified – in suppliers of services
  • Lack of commitment and enthusiasm to commit to significant expenditure on intangibles that are not understood in terms of Return On Investment or ROI.
  • Not understanding how SEO works

The field is contaminated with low cost providers who promise everything and usually deliver nothing.  SME’s find it difficult to see through the marketplace smog and clutter created by low quality, low cost providers. But why do we claim that many SME’s are not doing well on the web and do not understand how SEO works? Refer to Addendum B (below) from which the following is a small extract:

  • 97% of consumers go online to find a local business or local services yet around 36% of businesses do not have a website at all.
  • 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps yet many businesses do not have an easy ‘find us’ link with a Google map embedded even if they do have a website
  • 80% of small businesses do not invest in content marketing, - they are missing a key marketing opportunity
  • Fewer than 65% of SME’s have a website at all

How customers find local business - How SEO Works

What we mean by Local Business

In general, all companies that can benefit from ranking highly in a Google search. For instance:

  • Gym near me
  • Doctor Port Hacking
  • Restaurant near me
  • Web design Port Hacking
  • Builder Sydney

And so forth. But that’s only one part of the equation for business. The type of businesses listed above are ‘bricks’ types with local premises which customers simply need to locate on the web. Properly constructed websites with effective SEO will rank high on Google for those searches. But that’s not the only way for customers to find a business - it's crucial to understand how SEO works. Here’s one that most businesses ignore completely:

Content Marketing

Another method of rising on Google searches is content marketing . Understanding content marketing is a big slice of understanding how SEO works and it's  extremely important for:

  • Professional practices such as specialist lawyers
  • Specialists of all types – from pediatricians to management consultants
  • Fitness practitioners
  • B2B businesses providing all manner of services and products.

These businesses are generally found on the web with knowledge-based searches such as these:

  • Childcare rights for men
  • Best exercise for losing weight
  • Best way to restructure my company
  • Most accurate weight measurement for labs

A local business can rank high on Google for these searches if its website has well-written, unique content base on thoroughly researched keywords – and the search phrases listed above are examples of such keywords. This is known as content marketing and over time it can be very, very powerful.

Example of Content Marketing and How SEO Works

In March 2016 we were selling Essential Oils in the US on our website ‘Mystical Breath’. We wrote many articles to support our sales, one of which still ranks at number one on Google in the US to this day:

This is what we see on when we search for ‘essential oils for autoimmune disease’

SEO performance

A similar result shows up on an Australian search but with the post in 3rd place. So almost four years after we published this article it still brings us traffic on our website – around 1,200 visitors per month – that’s content marketing. Is it suitable for any business? – almost certainly.

Combining Content Marketing with SEO

Of course, a local business website with good SEO onsite and offsite as well as some great content on, a magical synergy occurs that can give a business a substantial and sustainable boost.

The Purpose of Our Company

The purpose of Sydney Business Web – PinPoint Local  is to assist local business with online growth, which requires a holistic understanding of the web as a commercial environment.

 After several years of work and experience with eCommerce, SEO and website development, we came to understand why local business owners generally have very poor experience and knowledge of their online presence:

  • Perception of a business website as an inconvenient commodity rather than a necessity and opportunity
  • Lack of understanding of how a business website interacts with its environment and competitors on the web and how this is determined by both content and structure
  • Lack of understanding of how a business website competes on the web and how SEO works
  • Lack of understanding of the role of social media and how it synergizes with a business website
  • Failure to adopt a reputation management method or strategy.
  • A lack of understanding of how revenue is generated and the relative merits of SEO vs Advertising.

These facts are further supported in ADDENDUM B of this Post.

Meeting Search Engine Requirements on a Business Website

First, we ensure the company’s business website is matched to technical Search Engine Requirements.  When Google crawls a business website it looks for very specific indicators of what the website represents and makes judgement on its quality. A website can look beautiful and mean nothing to the Google algorithm – it’s not all about ‘looks’ although they are important too, but if the website designer has poor knowledge of how SEO works, then the rest of the website design cannot compensate much for that. 

These are a few things that Search Engines look for in no particular order:

  • Securitybusiness websites must be encrypted and secure
  • Speed – critical for uses – see user requirements below.
  • Mobile compatibility (more than half of web queries are now made on mobiles)
  • Fresh content – a great opportunity for content-marketing!
  • Clean code with little unused code or code that gets in the way of a site loading fast
  • Sitemaps – directories of what’s on the site
  • Meta-data – snippets that tell the search engine what the website and each price of content is about and who it’s targeted at. Miss this and any business will struggle badly against more informed competitors.
  • Social signals (from Facebook and other social sites)
  • Real, verified business information

If your website designer understands how SEO works then these requirements will have been taken care of. If your business website looks great and doesn't rank well - check these things first.

Meeting User Requirements on a  Business Website

All of Google’s rules and methods and the way in which it assesses a  website are aimed at one thing – giving users a good online experience. There is considerable overlap between the ‘user requirement’ and the ‘search engine requirement’.  However, the first thing a potential customer needs is to find a suitable website, which we will again address later in this document.

Once found, business website visitors expect:

  • Speed - 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. For every one second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12%
  • Easy Navigation – People visit your website for a purpose - make it easy and fast.
  • Easy Identification of critical data – What the business is, what it sells, where it is and what is its  reputation.
  • Smart, credible branding - Once a page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds. So everything that makes an impression – business logo, fonts, colors – make an immediate impression for better or for worse.

Users and visitors don't care if you understand how SEO works or not - the fact they found you on the web means that at least something is working in your SEO setup.

How SEO Works - Getting A Business Website Found

In our Introduction above, we outline fairly thoroughly how a business website is found on Google – how it ranks for the terms and locations needed. Now we will outline the services we provide to make that happen for a  business.

SEO Services from Sydney Business Web – Pinpoint Local

There are two parts to SEO – onsite and offsite. We have covered onsite SEO in preceding sections of this document, so here we will deal with offsite SEO.

How SEO Works -  Offsite SEO

Offsite SEO comes in three main flavors:

How SEO Works - Local SEO

Local SEO promotes the type of business that wishes to rank high on Google for searches such as ‘Childcare center near me’ or ‘Doctor near me’ and so forth. This requires specific offsite activities linked to the business’ website – social, citations, directory listings, press releases, guest posts on other sites and more. Over time. Google recognizes these posts and listings as indications of authority and importance.

Online reviews and the management of reputation are also important factors. To achieve results takes typically 3 to 6 months and requires research into website content, keywords and competition as a preliminary.

Costs depend on the level of sustained activity and the speed at which results are required.

Interesting fact:  Bad offsite SEO can sink a business website with spammy links and other bad-practices. Cheap SEO can do more harm than good.

How SEO Works - National SEO

National SEO has its own specific requirements. In particular, if a business wishes to rank in multiple locations for products and services when it has only one real office, a special onsite structure is needed before national SEO can begin. Special pages can be constructed for each area of interest.

Sites like this can benefit maximally for content marketing (see above) which will yield website traffic regardless of location.

How SEO Works - International SEO

International SEO is generally in the category of content marketing and used extensively by drop- shippers and other companies that’s sell their products internationally. It consists of the same items as used for National SEO, but it is even more focused on content marketing.

Social Media for Business

As we have stated above, Google looks for social media activity as part of your website ranking evaluation. Apart from this, a well conducted social media site(s) can be a great traffic generator, sending visitors to the related business website,  and building communities around products and services.

It is important that these activities are consistent with website content and coordinated with website announcements.

[1] Search Engine Optimization: The means by which a business website is ranked on the web for revenue generation.

Online Market Perspectives : Key Facts Relevant to Understanding How SEO Works (ADDENDUM B)

The following are facts gleaned from reputable sources including Google:

Website Impact – Fast and Devastating

  • Once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds
  • 75% of consumers have admitted to judging a company’s credibility based on their website design. Yet many local businesses have dysfunctional websites when considered in terms of SEO, speed and content.
  • A single bad experience on a website makes users 88% less likely to visit the website again
  • 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. For every one second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12%
  • The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. However, research also indicates 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • While content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing (TV and radio ads, print ads etc), it generates more than three times as many leads
  • Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a business or making a purchase with them.
  • 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps yet many businesses do not have an easy ‘find us’ link with a Google map embedded.

Local Business Perspectives: Wasted Potential

  • Fewer than two-thirds (64%) of small businesses have a website
  • 97% of consumers go online to find a local business or local services yet around 36%  of businesses do not have a website at all.
  • 46% of all searches on Google have local intent
  • 80% of small businesses do not invest in content marketing, - they are missing a key marketing opportunity
  • Less than 30% of small and medium businesses use website analytics, call tracking, or coupon codes – they never get to understand their online business performance.
  • According to GoDaddy (a hosting company) research of more than 1,000 very small businesses, nearly half reported suffering a financial loss due to hacking, with one in eight saying the loss was greater than $5,000. Website security is an often-overlooked provision by business owners.
  • Of the small businesses that have websites, 69% of them have annual sales of $1,000,000 – $2,490,000
  • 91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience

Search Engine Perspectives

  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 47% of people click on one of the first three listings – being ranked high is critical so you need to understand how SEO works!
  • In 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches – a seamless progression to voice powered websites is now available and not utilized by many businesses. Very few websites have a voice search capability.
  • 50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones, and this percentage will reach 70% during   2020. Do you understand how SEO workd for your business on a smartphone? CALL US!


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About the author 

Rowley Keith MBA BSc (Hons)

A qualified business manager and design engineer with many years of real-world business experience.

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