Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from The Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

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you may have a lot to show for the hard work you’ve put into developing your landscape business – multiple pieces of equipment, a fleet of vehicles, workers and a nice facility. But it’s perhaps the one intangible thing that you built that is the most important. That being your reputation, which you might also think of as your “brand.”

Your company’s brand is what makes you who you are. It’s how you’re known in the community. All of the blood, sweat and tears, the calloused hands and the years of learning by trial-and-error went into developing a quality reputation – and a well-known brand. It’s how your clients perceive you, how your employees know you and even how your family and friends will remember you.

Reputation, or brand, is everything in this industry, and you take yours seriously. But have you ever considered your virtual reputation? If you’ve put time into thinking about your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance, then you have, maybe without even realizing it. Though many business owners are still catching up in terms of their focus on SEO, when you think of it as your virtual reputation, it’s a bit easier to understand why it’s so important.

To boost your virtual reputation, you need to show Google (other browsers and its users) that your website is worth looking at. Simply put: the better your reputation, the more traffic your website will receive. But it takes work to get there.

Delving deeper.

Thinking of SEO as your virtual presence or reputation may be a simplified explanation but, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Even so, to better understand what SEO really means, I like to break it down into three categories:

  1. Document applicability. This component of SEO looks at whether or not your website’s content is relevant to users.
  2. Website authority. This is an analysis of whether you are an authority on the content you’re providing. It’s made up of clicks, engagement, views, sales, favorites and links from other sites sourcing your content (also referred to as backlinks). It might help to think of authority as “popularity.”
  3. Technical performance. This aspect of SEO encompasses everything being done to increase the user experience and make it easier for search engines to find your website. Site performance is definitely part of the search engine algorithm.

Looking at these three aspects of SEO can help you in your quest to be on the first page of results, which is often the top priority of clients and prospects. Of course, there are millions and millions of websites out there and only 10 slots on Google’s first page. If you want to land one of those coveted 10, you have to put some work in to make it happen.

Reputation, or brand, is everything in this industry, and you take yours seriously.
Good SEO takes time.

You also must remember that it’s going to take time. You’ve probably received emails from local marketing agencies telling you that they can get you first-page results in no time at all. They may promise results in two, four or nine months – numbers that are really just arbitrary. That’s because the truth is, you should never be done working on your website.

This should be done by adding blogs, page content and timely information that your prospects are searching for. If you’re not doing that, you risk becoming stagnant and your SEO performance will show it.

That may not be what you want to hear, but think about it this way: Would you park a skid-steer at your facility and leave it there for the next seven years? Of course not. You use it to create revenue and make tasks easier. That means it will require maintenance – oil changes, tune-ups and, every now and then, a new paint job. And when it gets too old, you might even trade it in and upgrade it for a model that runs faster, lasts longer and looks better.

It should be no different with your website and its SEO performance.

Your website can make you a lot of money, but you must be willing to invest time, effort and money into it. This is the only way you can ensure it’s truly running its best.

Chris Darnell focuses on bringing landscape businesses’ sales and marketing strategies into the digital era.