As a consumer, you may not know much about search engine optimization (SEO). It refers to a set of best practices that gets certain businesses to the top of search engine results when people like you type in keywords.
For example, if you Google â€œphysical therapist Houston,â€ there will obviously be a set number of results on the first page of Google. Studies have shown that almost nobody looks beyond the first page, and not that many people check out more than the top five results.
However, just because a hit comes up at the top (or even on the first page) doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s necessarily the best result for you. It might not even link you to the â€œbestâ€ in terms of positive reviews and satisfied customers.
Instead, these top results are decided by whichever company has the best SEO. This includes quality, organic content with the right keyword density, positive links (especially those with authority), and a lot of techie know how.
Businesses that know how to work SEO reap the benefits, but what about consumers?
The path of least resistance
You might very well be happy with the provider or business that pops up first. But you may also be missing out on some real gems by letting Google do the legwork for you.
To be specific, you could be missing out on many kinds of information, fine companies, and organizations because their SEO game simply isnâ€™t up to snuff; or maybe they canâ€™t compete with mega corporations in a saturated field.
Itâ€™s a lot easier to compete in niche, geo-target industries such as dog groomers in a small town as opposed to a retailer who tries to take on Amazon.
Keep in mind, though, that SEO is ideally intended for your benefit. Itâ€™s meant to weed out poor-quality websites, including those that can be dangerous (like phishing sites) or that have really slow load times because of a lot of intrusive ads.
These worst-of-the-worst sites might be penalized and fail to show up in searches at all, or they could be buried on page 100. Itâ€™s pages two through 20 or so that could be hiding gold you might want.
Worth the effort
Any time youâ€™re looking for a business that might deserve a lot of your time, loyalty, or money, itâ€™s worth checking out more options. You can tell a lot about a business by its website and even where it turns up in search engine results, but you can still look closer.
Check out the companyâ€™s social media page, blogs, or third-party review sites. If you donâ€™t, itâ€™s almost the same thing as blindly picking a provider out of the Yellow Pages. You might luck out, but you never know what you could be missing.
SEO is constantly changing and evolving to make results better for the customer, but you shouldnâ€™t depend on Google to do all the work, especially for big and valuable jobs into which you may invest a lot of your hard-earned funds.
Do a little further digging yourself.