How search engines and search engine optimization SEO works
For a new website, it can take 3-6 weeks to get indexed on Google. So Google is not a “real time” record of the internet. Instead, they have robots that are reading and categorizing everything on the web.
After your new site is live for a few weeks, you can typically find it by searching for your company name. But it will take longer for your website to show up for certain other keywords (like phrases that match the service you are offering).
Or you may never show up for certain keywords, because there is too much competition, or because you don’t have relevant content on your website.
Keywords are words that relate to (or exactly match) what people are looking for on Google.
Imagine there is only one business in Canada that sells widgets. And they write on their website “we sell widgets in Canada”.
Google would make a record of that. Then when someone searches for “where can I buy widgets in Canada?”, it would show that website.
Keywords can be anything from one word, all the way to a full sentence.
It is not effective for a business to show up on Google for a one-word keyword because that is too general and will not match what the searcher is looking for.
Showing up for “widgets” means you’d get people who want information on widgets, who want to know what widgets are, who want to sell widgets, and who want to buy widgets.
If you sell widgets, then only the last type of person (the one who wants to buy widgets) is a match for your company. And if they live outside of Canada, and you only sell widgets in Canada, your website will not even be useful to them.
At Websites.ca, we ask you to tell us what keywords you would like your website to show up for. Mainly, those keywords have to closely relate (or exactly match) what the words on your web pages say.
There are a lot of reasons why you probably won’t show up on the first page of Google for every keyword you pick.
Here are the most common ones:
there are other business competitors offering the same thing as you, but they have been around longer and have more useful content on their website... there are only 10 organic spots on the first page of Google, so everyone else will get buried on the 2nd+ page of results
you don’t have enough content, or your content is too generic (many people ask us to write an entire Home page that talks about how great they are at customer service and how long they have been around, and never even mention what they are offering or what problem it solves... a lot of issues are fixed by text that is focused on how your ideal client will benefit from your service)
you don’t have any other websites linking to your website, or your competitors have more websites linking to them than you do (these are called “backlinks” and they are online reputation points that Google takes more seriously than anything else)
multiple pages of your website are saying the same things, targeting the same keywords, effectively cancelling each other out (or you copied exact sentences from other websites) -- Google HATES and PUNISHES duplicate content. The only time you should have more than one page or blog post on your site that talks about the same topic is when the main page is broad in detail, and the additional pages/posts go very deep into one aspect of that broad topic.
Sometimes I show up in the top 3 Google results for my target keywords, but I still don’t get any traffic... why?
Just because you think you should target a certain keyword, it does not mean that any customers are actually SEARCHING for that keyword.
Let’s say you invented a brand new product that was so cutting-edge that it was literally the first of its kind, and no one even knew such a product existed. Do you think anyone would search for it on Google? They wouldn’t.
There are cases where you will need to promote yourself on traditional channels to even drum up interest.
But more likely, if you show up high but don’t get any traffic, it just means that potential customers are using different words to describe what they want.
Pay close attention to how your customers talk, how they describe their problem, and what words they specifically use. Then make sure you have some of those words on your website, and tell us to target those new keywords instead.
With a lot of time, planning, money, effort, extremely useful content, and a great business reputation online and off.
If it were easy, everyone would be a billionaire. When you search for answers and services, you want the best, most helpful result. So other people expect the same from your business.
Getting to the top of Google is usually not just a matter of changing a few things on your website, and poof -- you are there.
But, if you serve a particular area, and there are less than 5 other competitors doing what you do, it may be easy for us to help you. If you fit that exact description just book a time with our Support Team to talk about it.
For everyone else, the fastest way to get to the top of Google is to set aside a monthly budget and hire an SEO pro.
We wrote the most comprehensive article about hiring the right SEO pro for a Canadian small business website, and what sort of work you can expect them to do https://business.websites.ca/small-business-website-seo/
SEO involves making sure your website has the best chance of showing up on search results, and managing your online reputation from other websites.
There is a HUMAN element to SEO (actual people searching for a solution) and a ROBOT element to SEO (teaching Google to lead people to your website). Any SEO work that ignores the human element will eventually fail, cost you a lot of money, and possibly even get your website delisted from Google searches altogether.
So don’t fall for promises from weird people to “guarantee you top spot on Google”. Also don’t be scared when people tell you “your website is missing out on search traffic”. These are standard spam messages to trick greedy and gullible people.
In an ideal world, you would just have to say what you do, who you do it for, and where. Then you would show up in the top Google spot.
But in the real world where multiple other businesses could do just as good a job and they write that on their website, how does Google choose? That is why the SEO service was invented. It’s taking an otherwise fairly equal playing field and -- slightly -- improving the communication between the robots and humans.
SEO doesn’t fix a bad offer, an overpriced offer, or an offer that people are otherwise uninterested in paying for. SEO won’t fix unhappy customers.
It takes Google a few weeks to record (index) a change to your site.
Sometimes even a positive change will require some time before it really has an effect. You might start out on the bottom of the second page for your target keyword. Then after two weeks you move to the top of the second page. Obviously you want to be on the first page, but at least you are seeing positive movement.
The idea would be to watch your results over a few months and see if you move up even more.
Also, since it is not just you (everyone else also wants to improve their SEO), you may see improvements just halt, not because you did something wrong, but because a whole bunch of your competitors also improved.
So it is an ever-changing thing. Although in most Canadian industries involving small businesses, there are not a ton of crazy changes that take place in a short timeline.
For local searches there are paid ads, the Maps Pack, and then organic results.
The paid section requires you to run Google Ads. That is a whole topic on its own, but has nothing to do with SEO.
For the Maps Pack, showing up requires a website with a great reputation, a Google My Business page that is up to date, and at least a few good Google Reviews. And then obviously some luck, because there is a lot of competition.
The organic results are mostly based on all the SEO stuff we have been writing about here.
I don’t have the time to learn and do SEO myself, but it is important for my business. Can I pay you guys to take care of it for me?
For your standard package, we will do some on-page optimization based on the keywords you tell us and the content you give us. For a lot of businesses, that is enough.
But if you need more help, we have a Premium SEO package.
You can read about it and sign up here: https://business.websites.ca/premium-seo/