11/06/12

SEO - What Gives?

If you have a website, chances are you’ve heard of “SEO,” (Search Engine Optimization). Chances are also pretty good that you’ve gotten all sorts of advice, most of it with an undertone of “if you get this wrong, no one will ever see your site and your business will fail and the sun will collide with the earth and EVERYONE WILL DIE,” or something along those lines.

So what do you do? How do you make sure you have great SEO and simultaneously save the planet?

The good news is: the basics of good Search Engine Optimization have a lot to do with common sense.

This is actually great news, because the metrics big Search Engine companies (aka Google) use are constantly changing in order to find truly great results for users.  If you’re trying to “game” them by manipulating your site, you’ll spend a lot of time running in circles. If, however, you focus on building easy-to-use and relevant pages for your site visitors, more people will trust your site and, consequently, your rankings will go up.

What do you need to keep in mind when building your site and its content?

  1. Use the words people will be looking for.
    You probably know these better than anyone else. What words do you use when talking about your business? When someone calls you to see if you can help, they ask, “Do you______?” If a stranger was looking for someone who does what you do, what words would they type into Google?  Use those words! Use them in your page titles, use them in your title tags and use them in your content. Put them in your metadata and use them in your blog posts.
  1. Keep your content fresh.
    Make sure your site is relevant. If you have new services or new items for sale, make sure those are on the site. If you add staff, get them on the site. Do you share how-to’s? Make sure the step-by-steps you give still work! Blog about current events in your field. This will give folks a reason to check your site regularly and helps keep you the go-to voice in your field.
  1. Give people reasons to link to your site. 
    If your content is current and your blog posts are meaningful and your images are great, people will link to your site. If you have guest authors on your blog, they’ll share with their friends/twitter followers/blog readers and those people will go to your site and THEY’ll share your links as well! Just make sure you return the favor by linking back to the sites of your guest contributors.
  1. Make your site easy to read and navigate through.
    First of all, it’s just thoughtful to make a visitor’s life easier. Secondly, people will not stay on a confusing site. They want instant gratification and if they don’t find what they need in the first few seconds, they will go elsewhere. Make your navigation clear and your content succinct. Use title tags that make sense. Make it very clear what folks should do once they are on your site (Sign up now! Contact Us! Join Our Group!).
  1. Have something worth searching for. Your main job should always be to keep your business relevant. Be great at what you do and people will come find you. A good rule of thumb here is to decide, "If Google didn't exist, what would I do to make my business the best?" If you're the best AND have great SEO, you'll be unstoppable!

All this “common sense” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up with Google and the other search engine giants. Knowing what they are looking for while you create your content can be very helpful. If you’re in a particularly competitive field, it’s also a good idea to hire an expert to help you use your site to its fullest.

Bottom line? Don’t panic. Run a great company and use good sense. It’s the quickest and easiest way to save the earth… or get good Google rankings. One or the other.

Need more? Here's some more about SEO practices:


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