SEO 101 – Understanding the Power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO 101 – Understanding the Power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Pop Quiz: Why is it that, when you key in a search query into your web browser, some websites appear higher up in the list of sites returned, while others come in way down the pecking order?

The answer: A neat little process called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

As highlighted by our pop quiz question, SEO is what goes on behind the scenes in your webpages and websites. When done right, SEO is responsible for ensuring that your web pages rank higher-up in organic search results than your competitor’s.

Although search engines like Google consider a long list of factors to determine proper site optimization for search, as a website owner, here’s what SEO means to you:

  • Your site is visible to search engines
  • It is structurally sound – well laid out, with no broken links or missing pages
  • It has content that search engines locate quickly when users query for them
  • Your pages rank higher (for relevant content searches) than your competitors
  • There’s content that users find useful and informative
  • The site makes good use of social signals (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) to promote it
  • You have high-quality backlinks that point back to your site
  • You use optimized images across the site

The most visible SEO sign is that customers, prospects and casual visitors find your website easily and efficiently, giving you the opportunity to sell your products and services to them. These are just a tiny manifestation of what SEO means to you. However, when SEO experts get down to work on site optimization, they’ll consider these, and a list of over 200+ other factors, when creating highly optimized websites.

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Why do I need SEO?

Consider the analogy of a bricks and mortar candy store from “back in the day”. Although the shop made the best candies and sweets in town, unless their name appeared in classified ads in newspapers and the TV, few buyers would show up at the store. The same is true with today’s digital storefronts – i.e. your online presences.

Owning and successfully operating an online business requires a website – and other online presences, like social media pages. But it also means you need to promote that site online, so current and prospective clients might find you whenever they have the need for your products or services.

Reno SEO


More importantly though, is the marketing aspect of an online business. You don’t just want (current) clients who know your business, or those who are actively considering buying (prospects) your product, to find your website online. It’s important to also “convert” casual visitors – who may not initially want to buy – into paying customers. And that’s where SEO comes in!

As an online business owner operating in a highly competitive marketplace, you need SEO if you:

  • …want your business to survive and thrive
  • …are looking to expand in new markets
  • …care about having more online visibility that your competition
  • …are looking to increase traffic to your website
  • …want a consistent stream of leads generated from that traffic
  • …are always looking to convert many of those leads to paying clients
  • …also care about generating a lot more local sales from among your city and community

So, what does SEO do to give you all (and more!) of the above? Well, here’s the simple truth about why SEO matters to you. You need SEO because:

  • 68%[1] of all identifiable web traffic happens as a result of web searches
  • 3%[2] of all web traffic come from organic searches
  • 76%[3] of people who searched for a product/service using a smartphone have visited a nearby business within one day of conducting their search
  • SEO[4] results in 1000% plus more traffic than other strategies, including social media
  • 60% of online businesses say that in-bound SEO delivers them a higher quality of leads tan do other lead generating strategies
  • SEO results in closing 14.6% of all online deals

As an online business owner, or someone who manages a website, what do all these numbers mean for you? Depending on what business you are in, and what online marketing strategy you pursue, these statistics might mean different things to various businesses. However, the one common take-away from these figures is this:

The world has around 2 billion websites on the internet, of which approximately 400 million are currently active[5].  If you run an online business, then you need your website “found” among the vastness of other websites out there. And for that to happen, you need SEO!


And what’s the most obvious way for anyone to find you in a crowded space? It’s if you step forward right at the front of the crowd and shout “Look at me…I’m here!”. Unless you do that successfully, the thousands of other competing websites in your domain may drown your presence. Your clients and prospects won’t know that you exist!

You need SEO to help you stand out in the crowd. And how does SEO make that happen?

To explain that, lets look at one more piece of statistics:

  • 60% [6]of people looking for products and services, won’t scroll past the first screen of their Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

To put that in perspective, lets assume a search term for your product or service results in 300 listings. Let’s also assume that each page comprises of seven listings. Here’s how the math works out:

There will be 43 web pages that meet the criterion of the searchers query. Depending on the device (desktop, tablet, smartphone) the searcher is using, those pages may span over more than 43 screens.

Assuming the searcher finds content on the page pretty useful, they’ll spend about two minutes (“dwell time”[7]) reading key content on the page.  That’ll take him/her 86-minutes (43 pages x 2-minutes per page) to go through all the search results returned.  That’s nearly an hour and a half of their time! In today’s busy world, no one has that much time to spend reviewing search results pages!

Typically, searchers will snoop around the first page of the site and, if they can’t find something interesting, they’ll quickly go back to the crowded SERP to sample the next site/page…and so on. This happens for each of the search results listed.  And, in 60% of cases, searchers will find what they’re looking for without needing to go to page 2 of the SERP.

The bottom line: If your web site doesn’t appear listed high-er up on page 1 (or at least the first few pages) of an organic search, it’s likely no one will ever find you among a crowd of web sites that’s 300 pages large. And you need SEO to help you rank higher in organic search results so you can stand out amongst the crowd of competitors.


SEO is the best way to target specific audiences online, so you can make your pitch directly to them. As a result, a follow-up question is: Do I have to continue doing SEO? The answer is – YES! Doing SEO isn’t easy – given the frequent algorithm updates that search engines like Google continually implement.

If you want your site to continuously rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), and are interested in a constant flow of traffic, then you need SEO. Not just a one-time SEO effort, but one that keeps up with search engine updates, and with your competitors!

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How to hire an SEO expert

Hiring the right candidates (contractors, service providers, agencies) for any role is a daunting task, and it’s no easier when it comes to hiring an SEO expert. But when it comes to all things SEO, the hiring decisions are a lot more critical than say, hiring a tradesperson or a graphics designer. Here’s why you need extra diligence when partnering with an SEO expert:

  • SEO impacts your bottom line – the fewer leads you convert the less revenue you’ll earn
  • SEO speaks directly to your customer base – if your website isn’t targeting the right clients, you’ll likely not get as many leads as you’d like
  • SEO impacts your websites’ standings with search engines – SEO-gone-wrong can easily get your website on a “black list” and cripple your online marketing operations for a significant time

To avoid these, and many other challenges that we’ll highlight shortly, your decision to hire an SEO expert requires a significant amount of extra diligence – more so than you exercise for other roles.


Here are 3 questions to ask and 6 additional skills to inquire about, to ascertain whether the SEO expert is right for you:

  • How do you keep abreast of SEO changes, trends and developments?

When you hire an expert, you want someone who always stays current with all thing’s SEO – not someone that read a few books a long time ago and only applies that knowledge to all her/his projects. Take note of news sites, journals, podcasts and tech review forums they talk about, and check those sources out (at your convenience) to validate what they said

  • Look at these 3 pages on our website. They currently rank #45 and #65 for their respective keywords. Can you provide us 2 onsite-optimization suggestions that’ll help improve our ranking/visibility?

This is a trick question, because there’ll likely be a different answer offered by every SEO expert that you speak to. However, look for some generic tips that any SEO-savvy professional should offer. These include:

  • Ensuring your URLs are meaningful, readable and succinct
  • Removing elements from the page that slows it down – especially on mobile devices – like heavy graphics, large videos and unnecessary bells and whistles
  • Adding links to external websites with content relevant to your domain/niche
  • Re-writing content for human consumption, not for BOTS and algorithms
  • Inviting other trustworthy partner websites to link to your content
  • Checking to ensure all your meta data (tags, descriptions) is in order
    Can you provide me 3 URLs of websites you assisted with SEO, and what were the outcomes of your efforts?

The objective of this evaluation exercise is to establish what the expert has done for other online marketers. Ideally (but not necessarily) the examples offered should be in your marketing niche.

Look for information that indicates trends that a clients’ website went from #30 to #7 in 9 days; or that the site saw 56% traffic increase in 2-weeks; or that sales shot up by 110% within 2-months of the engagement concluding.

Now that you are convinced, through performance-based metrics, that the expert knows what she/he is talking about, it’s time to assess whether they have other skills that’ll help them fit-in with your team.


A good SEO expert is not necessarily one that can only code like a nerd! There are other soft skills that are required to make the expert (or the SEO agency) work well with you and your team. Without these additional skills, it’s highly likely that your relationship with any SEO expert you hire will be short-lived.

To avoid mis-communication, misunderstandings and unintended consequences of any future business collaboration, verify that the expert has:

  • Demonstrable knowledge of SEO principles and practices
  • Excellent copy-writing
  • Exceptional communications skills
  • Good project management abilities
  • The ability to work with cross-functional teams within your organization (Marketing, Sales, Finance, Senior management)
  • Strong reporting and analytical skills (to monitor, measure, track and report SEO metrics)

Often, when interviewing an SEO agency, you’ll be speaking with a single person – not an entire organization. It’s important to therefore remember: When embarking on your hiring initiative, don’t forget that SEO is typically a team effort – it often requires skills that more than a single person may have.

Therefore, when assessing the talents and capabilities of your SEO expert, don’t focus on the individual, but also on the team behind them. It is the collective skills and experience of the combined team that you’ll be hiring, and not just the individual you are speaking to. On that note, if the agency is not a one-person-entity, it may not be out of bounds to ask to speak with key individuals who will be involved with you and your team.


  • Before casting a wide net to seek SEO candidates, ask around among your network of peers and business contacts to see if they can recommend some names
  • Give local SEO experts greater weightage in your decision-making criteria. Why? Because it’s always more convenient to meet, communicate and coordinate with them as opposed to someone that’s on a different continent or different time zone
  • Check if your SEO prospects offer freebees – like Lunch-and-Learn sessions, free initial consultations and mini website audits. Taking advantage of these offers is a great first step in getting to know your future SEO expert more closely

As you map your online marketing strategy, hiring not just any SEO expert, but the right one, is a key milestone for your company. Using a written test to select an SEO expert is not a good idea. Because of what’s at stake, ask for practical, verifiable demonstration of their accomplishments.

More importantly, ensure that the agency’s team and yours are a good fit. If they can’t deliver what you are looking for, or if their team and yours can’t produce synergies, then they’re probably not the right fit for your company.

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What I can expect with good SEO services?

Earlier-on in this eBook, we spoke about everything you might expect from SEO. That might include, but not be limited to, higher SERP rankings and more traffic to your website. But what can one expect of a good SEO service provider, in terms of the value-for-money proposition to you?

Well, here are six things that most professionals deliver as part of a well-rounded SEO offering:

  • A better understanding of your target audience

To provide the best SEO service applicable to your business, the agency you choose to work with must first understand who your audience is. They do this by talking to you to get a sense of what your products or services are, and whom you market them to.

  • A clear sense of your business objectives and goals

The type of SEO strategy that’s best for you depends on what you are trying to accomplish through your online presence. You should therefore expect your SEO partner to help you understand what your business objectives are:

  1. Are you looking to get more traffic?
  2. Do you want to rank higher than a specific competitor?
  3. Should your SEO efforts result in x% increase in revenue?
  4. Is it your desire for your website to become an “authority site” within your niche/domain?

Together with you and your team, the chosen SEO expert will help you get a clear sense of these and other similar questions.

  • A deeper appreciation for your competition

Most experienced practitioners won’t offer specific SEO advice until they have a clear idea of who your competition is, and what SEO tactics and strategies they (the competition) employ. Expect your SEO service provider to work with you to draw a clear profile of the competition, and map your current online ranking against the competition, so they can identify gaps between you and your industry peers.

  • A comprehensive deep dive into your existing website

In preparation to take on the competition – now that you and your SEO partners have a clear idea of who they are and what they’re doing – the SEO expert conducts an exhaustive site audit. This exercise gives them a sense of where your website stands in terms of various factors, some of which include:

  1. Layout
  2. Construction
  3. Ease of navigation
  4. Messaging
  5. Trust-worthiness
  6. Professionalism
  7. Page load times
  8. Accessibility
  9. Responsive design
  10. Social media-friendliness

They’ll also take a close look at the advantages (competitive edge) you enjoy over the competition, and specific shortcomings (e.g. content deficiencies) in your current website. This process gives your SEO expert an insight into what specific SEO strategies and tactics they’ll need to implement to accomplish the goals and objectives set out for the project.

  • Preliminary recommendations and suggestions

Before the expert knits together a comprehensive SEO strategy, they will likely discuss their preliminary recommendations and suggestions with you. Since they now know your business environment, your website and your competition in intimate detail, they’re able to offer concrete recommendations on what you need to do to win the online marketing battle.

At this stage, however, many clients might disagree with some suggestions, or consider other suggestions (e.g. revamp the entire website) too expensive and time consuming. A good SEP professional will, therefore, take that feedback into consideration when putting the final strategy into place.

  • A comprehensive SEO strategy

The most important deliverable you should expect of a good SEO service provider is a comprehensive SEO strategy, and the tactics to be employed when implementing that strategy. This is the overarching document that’ll take your online marketing businesses’ goals and objectives, and transform them into reality.

While each SEO agency might have different templates of their strategy, three most common components you must expect to see include:

  1. On-site Optimization: This focuses on optimizing the content, layout and structure of your site. Because of how SEO works – by having search engines crawl and sniff through your website – you don’t want any SEO-unfriendly characteristics in your site.

Elements covered in this part of the strategy include Title Tags, Meta descriptions, Navigation, Internal links, Unique and relevant content, Speed and security – amongst other factors.

  1. Off-site optimization: This part of the strategy covers factors that help you establish your site as an authority on external platforms and online presences (Blogs, websites, social media forums). For SEO purposes, search engines like Google give great weight to authoritative inbound links into your site, from other respectable, credible websites in your niche.

The more credible inbound links you receive from external sources, the more authoritative your site appears to BOTS, Spiders, Creepers and Crawlers – search engine algorithms. Influencer marketing, guest posting and syndication are some tactics that a good SEO expert may propose.

  1. Ongoing SEO measures: This part of the SEO strategy will contain other relevant steps, such as continually refreshing your content, necessary to stay on top of the SEO list. It may also propose constantly working with other sites (credible ones!) to guest post or host unique and informative content and links

The strategy will include all relevant steps, implementation timelines, and metrics to accomplish and measure success. Expect most professional SEO experts to offer FREE (though not exhaustive or comprehensive) site audits. They’ll also offer limited-time FREE initial consultations, and may even periodically host FREE lunch-and-learn sessions.

At the end of your SEO project, what should you expect success to look like? Well, you should expect better organic traffic, more leads, more conversion, higher page/site ranking and, most importantly, improved revenue from sales.

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Then what?

Your SEO initiative will likely not push you up to #1 in SERPs for your specific keywords and search queries (unless you are already at #2!). SEO takes time to bear fruit – sometimes as much as three to six months. Then what? Then, there’s no letting up! The best SEO strategy is a continuous one. Even if you reach #1, without ongoing SEO efforts, someone else could well knock you off your high ranking!


Hello there! Have questions? Call or text me anytime Monday through Saturday 8 am to 8 pm PST. I can be reached at 775-870-0488.

Sandy Rowley

SEO Expert


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Webdesign & SEO

Webdesign & SEO

SEO is a Part of All Good Web Design and Here’s Why

New websites can often lead to less traffic for one major reason: web design and SEO go hand-in-hand.

Quality web design starts by determining what will bring people to your site. When people Google something, you want to make sure your website is the first thing they see.

So an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is vital for any online business, and it should be implemented within the web design process, not afterward.

This means that the way your website looks is the second part of the web design process, and it is just as important. Here are some traits of good web design.

Starting with the SEO

Good SEO means knowing your business well. Before writing the first line of HTML code, designers should know what will drive traffic to the website.

SEO does not stop at keywords, however. An effective SEO strategy accounts for the ways other websites will link to it and makes content easily parsable. The best SEO strategies also have the best content.

Basically, before designing the user experience, good web designers will consider how the website will reach the user.

Designers should try to ensure that websites are relevant and applicable to whatever the user is searching for, and are presented to them before other websites.

Designing for the User

After figuring out how to get information to users, web designers should make sure their websites presentable.

You could have everything a user could ever need on your website, but it would not matter if users can’t navigate it.

Difficult user experiences can doom a website, no matter how effective its SEO strategy is. Users will simply leave a webpage if they can’t use it.

So while designers must consider the website’s content, they must also find ways to make it presentable while staying true to their client’s web design branding. A website about something like make-up probably should not have an impact font, and tech blogs may not want to use a Jacques and Gilles typeface.

Designers should also stay ahead of the curve in web design, which includes designing websites for mobile.

Knowing How Web Design and SEO Go Together

Google mentioned recently that it favors responsive designs for mobile platforms over adaptive designs, and designers should keep that in mind while building websites.

So while users may enjoy scrolling through many pages at once and it can be a neat gimmick, the design loads a website’s URL with keywords and raises SEO alarms. This can harm the website’s SEO ranking in ways that responsive design do not.

An SEO audit can help show you how your design is impacting your ranking.

A seemingly good design choice can negatively impact the overall website, which is why web design and SEO should not be treated separately. They go together to make a successful website.

Making Your Web Design and SEO Work

SEO is an important part of any web design, and it should be a part of any web design process. No designer should neglect a website’s SEO strategy while building the actual web pages since SEO can make or break a business.

You can contact us if you want to view your current SEO rating, or if you want to know how to improve your web design and SEO strategy.

Audit SEO | Why you need an audit before and after a site re design

Audit SEO | Why you need an audit before and after a site re design

Company websites are one of the most important pieces to a successful marketing campaign and even business plan. Companies that focus their efforts on creating an engaging experience for their customers online, tend to out perform their competitors.

The look and feel of a custom web design is paramount to  its success, but what lies beneath that branded website, is where SEO audits redirect their focus.

Most of the new SEO auditing services we provide each month, come from new clients who started to lose SEO organic traffic and wanted to know why.

The usual culprit is a site redesign.

A full technical SEO audit shines light onto areas of the new website design that may not be up to par with Google’s SEO requirements. Most of the findings fall along simple and careless changes done by the ad agency or web design company.

SEO audits can take up to two weeks. A full report includes action steps needed in order to correct the issues. After these errors are corrected, we can get a websites rankings back within a few months or less.

Learn more about SEO audits:

How to perform an SEO audit

SEO audit template

SEO audit report sample

SEO audit software

SEO audits

Audit SEO Online

Audit SEO Online

Scan your website for free, online. Simply complete the form below and receive a complementary SEO audit.

This simple SEO report will be sent to your email within 5 minutes.


What is an SEO audit?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. An SEO audit is a review of your websites existing rankings in online search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

There are different types of SEO audits.

A quick audit can give you helpful information about how your website stacks up against competitors in your industry. It can also give you an idea of what it will take to rank your website for certain keyword phrases.

A full technical SEO audit, can take up to 2 weeks and includes all variables needed to outrank in a competitive market online.

Technical SEO audits are always recommended for larger websites or for websites that are going under a site re design.

Full SEO audits can help identify why a website lost search engine rankings.

Some items that a SEO expert will review during a full technical SEO audit are:

  • Site load speed
  • Mobile responsivness
  • On site SEO optimization
  • Off site SEO optimazation
  • Link Analysis
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Competitor positions

As well as a number of technical considerations that are often propriatery to each SEO experts level of experience and knowledge.



Your All Signed Up!

Your All Signed Up for the FaceBook Marketing Workshop @ Swill Coffee & Wine May 23, 2018

Make sure to arrive at the event 15 minutes early to secure your seat. Seating is open. First come basis.

Please park across the street in the shopping center parking lot.

Reno Business Owners Only please.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Yes. Ages 18 and up please.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Lots of free parking located in front of the coffee shop.

What can I bring into the event?

Your sexy self and a laptop, mobile phone and pen / paper.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Call or text her at 775-870-0488. Visit

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Yes, please do. If you lose your ticket, have an ID please.


Wed, May 23, 2018

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PST

Add to Calendar


Swill Coffee and Wine

3366 Lakeside Court

Reno, NV 89509

View Map

Must RSVP to Hold Your Spot. 24 out of 50 Seats left!

FREE Marketing Workshop Reno Nevada 2018. Must RSVP below.

FREE Marketing Event @ Swill Coffee & Wine 

What Does It Take To Make Sales in 2018?

Must RSVP to Hold Your Spot.


We business owners work hard enough as it is, now we have the task to learn SEO, PPC, Social Marketing, Email Marketing and Reputation Management, each of which could be another full-time job.

I take my 18 + years’ experience in ranking small and large company websites in the major search engines and break it down to bite size and useful information that my small business owners can take to work, implement and grow their business.

Why do I give free marketing workshops? I love this stuff, yes that’s the truth, but, in the future, when your business is really starting to take off, you will need someone to help maintain growth, I hope to be that marketing guru that you can depend on. If not, no worries, the free marketing workshops I hold are great publicity for my local SEO and web design services.

Let’s get together and help each other with marketing strategies, tools, resources and one on one review of what is currently working online and what is a waste of time.


The marketing event starts at 12 – 1pm. Bring your questions, laptop, mobile phone and good looks. Make sure to get to the coffee shop 15 minutes early to save your seat. 


Join us for a relaxed, fun and entertaining workshop on the best internet marketing tips & tricks to help grow your small business in the Reno Nevada area.

(don’t worry, this is not a high-pressured sales event where I convince you to hawk your family jewels to get rich over night. 😉

Bring your laptop, mobile phone or a pen and notebook, because you are going to have lots to talk about in this one-hour Internet Marketing Workshop series held by local SEO Expert, Sandy Rowley of

“She makes the information easy to learn and fun.” Cynthia R.

“Best hour spent growing my business.” Tom H.

“If I had only known about Sandy sooner…lucky to know her now!” Max L

View more 5 Star Reviews on Google here!



You MUST learn social media, SEO and PPC in order to compete in 2018. Online marketing strategist and coach, Sandy Rowley will do a LIVE FIRE Round Session with 50 local businesses. Have questions? Stuck on something? Sandy has over 18 years experience helping small and large businesses gain new clients online.

This internet marketing workshop is for business owners and locals in the Reno Nevada area who are curious how to increase their website traffic, build their own website, use social media to gain new clients or simply want to stay up to date on the best and proven marketing strategies for their organization.

BE WARNED THOUGH, if you run a local SEO, web design or PPC marketing business or thinking about starting one, do not sign up for this workshop. I have a big heart and love to help small businesses, but draw the line at teaching my competitors how to out rank me. I have actually had a hand full of supposed SEO Experts come to my workshops asking me how to start a SEO business FYI.

How would you like to find out how to increase online traffic and foot traffic using the latest marketing strategies?

During the Internet Marketing Event You Will Learn:

  • The formula for creating an automatic system that ensures 5 star reviews online.
  • Leverage the resources available to you now, for free, to grow your audience fast.
  • Sneaky little SEO tips that still draw in the traffic in Google search.
  • Network with locals in the area and gain valuable connections to help you reach your goals in 2018!

Reno Business Owners Only please.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Yes. Ages 18 and up please.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Lots of free parking located in front of the coffee shop.

What can I bring into the event?

Your sexy self and a laptop, mobile phone and pen / paper.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Call or text her at 775-870-0488. Visit

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Yes, please do. If you lose your ticket, have an ID please.


Wed, May 23, 2018

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PST

Add to Calendar


Swill Coffee and Wine

3366 Lakeside Court

Reno, NV 89509

View Map


Must RSVP to Hold Your Spot.