Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO) FAQ

  1. What is natural search engine optimization (SEO)?
  2. Why is SEO important?
  3. How does natural search differ from paid search?
  4. Should I start with paid search or natural search?
  5. Will you guarantee results?
  6. Do you provide references?
  7. Why shouldn't my company manage natural search internally?
  8. How long will it take to see results?
  9. What is SEO Copywriting?
  10. Does this mean copywriting is not important to SEO?
  11. Do you engage in unethical SEO?
  12. Do you offer search engine submission services?
  13. Do you offer training services?
  14. How do you select keywords?
  15. Will you make the changes on my website?
  16. What about link rental or purchase?
  17. How do we track the results?
  18. Will high keyword rankings guarantee my company more business?

1) What is natural search engine optimization (SEO)?

Natural, or Organic, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a series of techniques used to drive a site to the top of the natural listings on a search engine. Efforts are focused on both on-page factors and link building.

An often neglected aspect of SEO is the selection of effective, high-impact keywords. If you optimize on the wrong keywords, the ROI will be non-existent.

Lastly, SEO must ensure that a site is indexed by the search engines. If a search engine does not know about a particular page, it certainly can't return that page for a query.

2) Why is SEO important?

Search engine optimization is important for a number of reasons including:

  • 36% of searchers attribute top organic position with brand quality (eMarketer)
  • 60% to 70% of all search traffic comes from organic listings (iMediaConnection)
  • 90% of organic search traffic is driven from the top five listings (SearchEngineWatch.com)
  • 62% of searchers view only one page of results before clicking (Jupiter Research)
  • Having the No. 1 listing in both organic and paid search can increase click rates by three times (SEO-PR)

3) How does natural search differ from paid search?

The primary differences are:

  • Paid search can be launched quickly. Natural search generally takes months to show a return.
  • Paid search focuses on a large number of keywords. Natural search needs to be focused on a few high-return keywords.
  • Paid search is highly measurable. Tracking results on natural search is more difficult (although not impossible).

4) Should I start with paid search or natural search?

We strongly recommend that you start with paid search. This allows you to test a large number of keywords, and to measure the results on a keyword by keyword basis. This information can then be used to target effective, high-impact keywords for your natural search efforts.

Unfortunately, much of our industry doesn't agree. They tend to focus on untested, often ineffective keywords. This may be due to the fact that natural search services tend to be more profitable than paid search services, as most of the money in paid search goes to Google and Yahoo.

In our view, the only legitimate reason a business should focus on Natural Search before proving out keywords on Paid Search is that the company is in an industry niche that is not hypercompetitive and has fairly obvious primary keywords with significant search volume.

5) Will you guarantee results?

We are unable to guarantee results, as there are simply too many factors outside our control. In fact, in Google's Information for Webmasters, they recommend that companies beware SEOs that guarantee results.

We are, however, willing and able to make a guarantee as to our SEO ethics.

6) Do you provide references?

Absolutely! Contact info for reference customers is available upon request.

7) Why shouldn't my company manage natural search internally?

In certain cases, managing SEO internally may be the correct decision. For those interested, we offer natural SEO training.

However, the landscape in natural search changes quickly, and what works today may well not work tomorrow. Our search marketing professionals stay abreast of all developments in the search engine marketing industry, and know what the latest, most effective techniques are.

In addition, a great deal of modern SEO involves the creation of external links. This is a laborious process, and many companies quickly learn that they would benefit from outsourcing their SEO efforts.

8) How long will it take to see results?

This largely depends upon how old the site is. If the site is new, you shouldn't expect to see significant results from Google until the site has been in Google's index for at least six months. Results for new sites can be seen in Yahoo and MSN, generally under two months.

For sites that have been in existence for a year or more, results from on-page optimization can generally be seen within a few weeks of being placed online.

Google, is highly dependent upon links in its calculation, and prefers links that have been in existence for a long time. As a result, if the marketspace is competitive, it may take six months or more to see significant results.

9) What is SEO Copywriting?

You've probably seen a webpage where the same keyword is repeated over and over, in a way that makes it very difficult to understand what the page is actually trying to say. This is SEO'ed copy.

SEO copywriting is the creation of website copy that includes heavy usage of keywords in hopes to move a page up the search engine rankings. It is generally written to a particular "keyword density", that will supposedly perform well in the search engines.

For search engines with a heavy reliance on on-page factors, such as MSN, or for particularly uncompetitive keywords, SEO copywriting might work, at least to a certain degree. For keywords with any amount of competition on Google and Yahoo, however, it is rarely effective.

What's more, even if the SEO'ed copy works in a search engine, it is rarely effective for the human beings visiting the site.

In addition, SEO copywriting can be very profitable for the SEO firm, as the search engines regularly change their preferred keyword density. This results in more work for the SEO firm as they rewrite the SEO'ed copy, and upcharge the client.

We prefer not to use SEO copywriting. We recommend that the targeted keyword be used in the page's copy, but used in a manner that is natural sounding and effective for readers. Our SEO efforts focus on other on-page factors and most importantly - links.

10) Does this mean copywriting is not important to SEO?

By no means.

Copywriting is certainly important in SEO. The copy of a website should always be written to maximize the return on marketing dollars. If the visitors to a website do not convert to leads or sales, then the efforts on SEO are wasted.

The copy of a page should focus primarily on effectiveness and conversion rate. Simply use the page's keywords in a natural manner, and optimize the other on-page factors and links.

Also, landing pages can be created to address specific keyword needs that cannot be found on other parts of the site. Each such page must have substantially unique content and not employ deceptive techniques such as redirects, or run the risk of receiving penalties from the search engines.

We offer a full range of copywriting services which can be used in conjunction with either our paid or natural search services.

11) Do you engage in unethical SEO?

We tend to not see SEO in ethical terms. Notwithstanding potential issues of deception, the way one structures one's webpage is not a concept that should inspire discussions of morality.

There are, however, issues of risk management and tolerance with SEO. Certain techniques might run the risk of being blacklisted by one or more of the search engines. Typically, the more competitive a space is, the more risky the needed techniques are.

As Apogee Results does not work with companies in the truly hypercompetitive space (e.g. gambling and pornography), we have never needed to resort to risky techniques to achieve the rankings our clients demand.

One aspect of SEO that can raise ethical questions is the communication between the SEO firm and the client. Some firms engage in risky techniques without informing the client. That is certainly unethical.

Another area of potentially unethical behavior can be found in firms that provide "SEO" services by building a network of their own sites that drive traffic to the client's site. These are often sold on a per click basis. While this is a viable marketing model, many client's do not realize that the moment they stop paying, the "SEO" they've been buying goes away. In fact, many SEO firms will then turn around and sell this traffic to the former client's competitors.

Apogee Results' SEO practice is built around achieving superior results in the natural listings of the search engines. Baring an algorithm change in the search engine, the traffic does not go away if a client does not continue to engage with Apogee Results (although listings do tend to degrade over time if continue SEO efforts are not made).

12) Do you offer search engine submission services?

We'll let you in on a secret, assuming a page can be read and indexed by a search engine's search bots, all that is needed to submit to the search engines is a link from a page on another site that is in the Google index.

The automated submission services that you receive constant email spam for are, at best, a waste of money. In many cases, they can actually hurt your site's performance in the search engines, as repetitive submitting of the same site can cause the search engines to invoke a penalty.

13) Do you offer training services?

Absolutely! Please speak to your Apogee Results business development representative for more information.

14) How do you select keywords?

Ideally, keywords for natural search are selected by using data from a properly configured and managed paid search campaign. This way, keywords that generate leads and/or sales are certain to be focused on.

Alternatively, detailed analysis can be made on a group of potential keywords to measure their relative search volume and competitiveness, but this data is greatly strengthened with the addition of conversion data from a paid search campaign.

15) Will you make the changes on my website?

We are not a web design firm, and don't manage the actual pages of your site ourselves. We do, however, make specific, detailed suggestions of changes. And, if you do not have the staff to make the changes yourself, we have a number of web design firms that can do this for you.

16) What about link rental or purchase?

One of the dirty little secrets of the SEO industry is that many of the people at the top of Google bought their way there through paid links.

Many links can either be bought on a one time basis, or rented month to month. One of the biggest advantages of this is the ability to configure the link exactly how you want it for maximum SEO benefit (begged links often have to be accepted "as is").

Competitive marketspaces are likely going to require paid links. We typically recommend either purchasing permanent links, or budgeting link rental for at least six months (preferably eight or nine months). Links must "age" before Google allocates them their full benefit.

17) How do we track the results?

Many SEO firms create their own fuzzy metrics, generally around the idea of "visibility". If a particular keyphrase improves from a ranking of 100 to a ranking of 20, they call that a 500% visibility. Rarely do you see such firms concerned about the traffic the rankings bring to your site.

While we certainly monitor rankings in the search engines for our targeted keywords, we are much more concerned with the traffic those rankings generate. And, we are happy to work with you to connect the traffic generated by the search engines to specific leads and sales.

18) Will high keyword rankings guarantee my company more business?

Absolutely not! A high ranking for a keyword with no search volume is absolutely worthless. Also, if a keyword generates web traffic, but no leads or sales, you aren't exactly helping the bottom line (or the top line, for that matter).

Our marketing professionals will work with your team to determine the keywords that will make a difference for your business, and strive to get those keywords to the top.

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"We have enjoyed working with Apogee for years, and our long relationship is due to the consistent, high-quality results on both paid search and natural search."