There is so much SEO, SEM black magic and snake oil sales being touted as the end-all of Internet marketing. Is it BS? Yes and no…the BS part is all the “get rich quick” scams and the offers of guaranteed #1 spots on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
What isn’t BS is that you really, really need to consider SEO as the building infrastructure of your business. Designing all of your marketing, from traditional press releases to Pay-per-click campaigns, with how to use and focus on the most relevent and frequent keywords that users search to find similar products or services will be an on-going day-to-day ‘best practice’ for any decent marketing professional.
With that in mind, here’s ten tips to follow for optimizing your website for superior search placement:
SEO Tip 1: Rank Guarantees Are Mostly Scams. Each Search Engine controls its own indexing using its own proprietary ranking algorithm. (Google modified their algorithm over 350 times last year.) Secret “tricks” people imploy are either false or temporary…sometimes resulting in penalties. The only way to improve your search engine rank is to research, imploy best practices and monitor results frequently; then repeat. There aren’t short cuts.. top rankings in Search Engine Natural Results will take some time. Hard work is imperative especially in developing your content on your website and the inbound links to your site.
SEO Tip 2: Getting Ranked is Not the End, It’s the Beginning. Really, when it comes down to it, what will a top search engine rank get you? Most businesses want an increase in sales revenue, not web traffic. If your increase in traffic doesn’t increase your sales, you are attracking the wrong searchers to your site. Ranking for the right keywords (keywords used by your target audience) is very important, but ranking high for traffic that actually CONVERTS into a sale, is much more important. Unfortunately, there are SEO ‘trickers’ who will try to impress you with search results for keywords that occur only on your website. Who cares if you’re #1 for “waste containers” if everyone buying is searching for “trashcans”?
SEO Tip 3: Research and Select the Most Relevant, Highest Traffic Keywords. Picking keywords is much more like the TV Gameshow “Family Feud” than it is like “Jeopardy”. It is much much more important to understand what words “most searchers” are using, not what you think they should use to best describe your product or service. You must research your keywords before you start adjusting words on your site. You can purchase tools that provide good indication of a keyword’s search potential. It is very important to know the relative number of searches for various keyword phrases in the last month, last 6 months and the last year, especially if you fal into a “seasonal sales cycle”. You should also research the number of web pages that are targeting the keyword(s) you are considering. As always…start small, not broad. It is generally better to start your campaign using keywords with moderate or little competition and a decent number of searches!
SEO Tip 4: Write Great Content! Even if your website is technically perfect for the search engine robots, it won’t do you any good unless human traffic stays on your site and converts to a sale. The only way to achieve this real goal is to fill it with lots of great content. “Great content” has contextual and editorial value, is generally factual and appeals to your target demographic; bringing repeat visits and increasing your chance of conversion. Regular, periodic editing and additions are neccessary for optimal results.
SEO Tip 5: Use a Human Friendly AND Search Engine Friendly Design. A design that considers both human and search bot navigation is a must for any website to be successful. Your website should be compelling enough for repeat visits by potential customers, along with accurate, optimized indexing by search bots. Make sure you have search engine friendly URLs, non-flash menus and behind-the-page best practices used throughout your site.
SEO Tip 6: Know Your Competition. “Page Rank” is a relative position, dynamically determined during each search. Your page rank, along with all other potential results compete for the highest position. Your rank, or position, is a factor of how much better content, SEO efforts, or both you have done in relation to your competition. Analyze your competition’s keywords, links, their keyword density and their spread. Word of caution: be sure not to copy your competition!
SEO Tip 7: Utilize a Linking Strategy. Hyperlinks are the ‘threads’ that tie the entire web together. Therefore links to and from your site have become one of the most critical, and complex, parts of an SEO plan. This is also one of the first corners cut by the SEO snakeoil salespeople. Your links must be relevant and you need links pointing into various pages within your site…not just your home page. Research and utilize the right links to dramatically increase your SERP placement. The in-links that you acquire are the roads to your web page for search engine bots and visitors alike. Good links improve your webpage’s equity on the World-Wide-Web and bad links make a big dent in your equity and credibility. Be very selective in reciprocal linking. Be very prudent in selecting those links. Only Submit your website to the relevant sections in relevant and related directories.
SEO Tip 8: Write Relevant and Original Meta Content. Meta-content is like your business card. Just as your business card tells people who you are and what you do, Meta content tells the search engines the relevance and context of your web page. Resist the temptation to include everything in the Meta content, but make it detailed as possible. Confused Yet? The main idea is to include only what is relevant to the page in the Meta Content but to include everything that is relevant.
SEO Tip 9: Consider consulting with a SEO Expert. If you have the competence, there are basically two ways to learn – learning from your mistakes and learning from other peoples’ experiences. If you have the time and you can afford to wait for the online dollars to arrive, then do it yourself. If you want to get started now, it may be useful to consult an expert.
SEO Tip 10: Repeat! Hopefully, you can see that SEO isn’t a black magic…it’s merely hard work. Understanding your demographic, what words they use to find products and services similar to yours, and how your competition is adjusting over time requires ongoing monitoring, analysis and reaction. Google search engine algorithym has changed over 300 times annually for the past several years. What is working today, may perform poorly next month. SEO has become one of the basic processes of any Marketing Professional and it should be an ongoing, never-ending process.