The New SEO and Web Design in 2018

Over the years, web design has changed dramatically.  With the creation of DIY website builders, everybody and their brother can make a website.  Heck, you can have one up in about 10 minutes by going to Wix or Squarespace.  You can even hire foreign web developers on the cheap through freelancing websites, so why do companies like Spark even exist in 2018?

The answer, quite frankly, is Google. When people look for things, products, services, etc. on the internet, there’s a high probability that Google is involved in the process. Maybe they go to Google.com and perform a traditional search, or maybe they use the Chrome web browser that has Google Search built in.  If you’ve downloaded the latest version of Firefox, it comes standard with Google Search, and all Android devices (a Google product) come stock with Google search built in.

You see, designing a good looking and functional website used to be the hardest part of developing your online presence, but that has all changed drastically.  You could have the most stunningly beautiful website, but if no one knows how to find it, it’s referred to as a billboard in a desert.  Today, it’s all about finding smart ways to be found by your audience and doing so in a way that doesn’t make them run in fear of being roped into a slew of spam emails, cold calls, or a mailbox full of wasted paper. That means being present when your clients are looking for you.  This process is called Inbound Marketing.

So let’s say you’re a small business; maybe you provide a home service like A/C repair. You have a couple options in terms of getting your business found by consumers.  Option 1 is traditional marketing.  Maybe you send out fliers or postcards with some sort of promotion.  Maybe you take out a TV ad in a specific location. But let’s think about this strategy.  What are the odds that your postcard or TV ad is delivered at the precise moment that someone actually needs your service? I’ll help you, it’s virtually 0.  A smarter and more efficient option is to have your business show up on Google Search in one of the top spots when people search for something like “AC Repair [insert city]”.

Showing up in an organic search like the one above means that your customers will make a buying decision based on a few basic psychological elements.  One of these psychological concepts is called Social Proof.  Basically, people want to know they can trust you before they hire you, and they rely on others’ experiences with you to make that decision. For example, people rely on Google to provide relevant search results, so if you show up before your competition, they will automatically trust you more. That’s a fact.  Also, if your listing has more and better reviews than your competition, you will also have a better chance of winning the business.

These things all happen before your customer even sees your website.

Being able to give the search engines the information they need to determine that you are a better and more relevant result than your competition is sometimes called Search Engine Optimization, but even that term has evolved over the years. SEO techniques and strategies have morphed from a mindset of “how do we manipulate search engines” to “how do we give search engines what they need.” Why? Because search engines are getting smart.  Really smart.  No longer can we trick them into showing our sites before our competitors by simply stuffing a bunch of extra words on the site or paying for a bunch of backlinks.

Today, SEO is a process.  A long process of building and distributing content through multiple channels, in an effort to be found. Today, we blog, we post, we share.  Google will determine our relevance based on whether or not we actually are relevant to our industry or our audience (shocker).  Sure, there are some technical things we can do to help the process, but ultimately, it’s about showing up to the party, becoming a part of the conversation, and hopefully becoming a thought leader in your space.  At Spark, we guide our clients down that path and develop our client’s businesses from the inside out.

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