Knowledge of Search Engine Marketing strategies, tactics, and execution is essential for any website owner, blogger, and business owner. Just because you build it (a website) doesn’t mean they (customers and prospects) will come.
One of the key factors in boosting traffic and conversions on your website is simply that users are easily able to find your website when they are searching to solve a problem. This is where Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and more specifically Search Engine Optimization (SEO) come in.
I’ve been doing various forms of SEO since 2004 when I built my first website for an independent record label and artist management company I launched. At times I wish SEO was as easy as it was back then – which is an eternity and more in Internet time.
The nature of search and website optimization changes each and every day just because of the different factors regarding how people are using search engines on their devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, and Smartphone’s. Not to mention Google’s ever-evolving updates to its search engine algorithm.
After 9 years of consulting and executing SEO and Internet marketing strategies I’m still learning new things each day or at least with each SEO project I consult with or work on. Which led me to write this post. There are a few basics of SEO and website optimization that all website owners need to understand. I broke it down to the most basic 4 items:
The Fundamental Basics to Understand About SEO
1. SEO is a Long Term Process, Not a One-Time Fix
If you’re looking to increase your website traffic by next week and you hire an “SEO expert” to do this you will be extremely disappointed and take a hit to your Internet marketing budget.
There is no quick fix to solve your website’s search engine optimization issues and anyone who tells you there is, is not being truthful or doesn’t understand website optimization and search engine algorithms and rankings.
Website optimization and SEO is a long-term process with many different factors and variables to success. It should be understood that it could take weeks or months to see any tangible impact from your SEO efforts.
The process of website optimization is exponential in the sense that SEO builds upon itself and gains momentum over time as you consistently produce, optimize, and post all of your web content.
An essential part of any good SEO campaign strategy is Content Marketing and blogging. SEO is not just about keywords and metadata but more so how you use and also how often you use those keywords and metadata in you content creation.
Each and every time you post content: photographs, videos, podcasts, slideshows, blog posts, news items, press releases, etc, ensure you are using a variety of keywords. Be sure to remember this strategy when creating your social media posts. Any posts, tweets, pins, Instagram’s, etc should also be optimized using a variety of your targeted keywords.
When your content gets shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others, they produce valuable “social signals” which ultimately increase your chances of that content ranking high in relevant search results.
SEO should be tweaked and updated regularly because people change the way they search and the phrases they search with regularly. People also search different on mobile than they do on desktop simply due to the challenges of the Smartphone touch screen keyboards and being rushed while on the go than at their desk.
With the increasing number of people using Smartphone’s, businesses must understand that people search for what they want on their mobile devices equally if not more so than on their laptop computers.
Google favours websites that are continually updated. Not only with relevant content but updating metadata is also a very good practice in Google’s eyes. It’s important to research your keywords and tweak your metadata at once a month to maintain and increase your website’s search engine rankings.
To illustrate other examples of how success can come from good SEO practices over time, see the case study on one of my clients, Nightmares Fear Factory. I worked on their entire web strategy including website development, search engine optimization, and social media marketing for almost two years before it blew up and went viral, twice.
2. Optimize for the User, Not The Search Engines
I realize that this statement paints users with a broad brush but I believe it’s safe to say that when a person is using a search engine they are trying to solve a problem or get an answer to a question.
According to this post, these problems can be quite diverse:
- Is a product worth buying? Search for reviews.
- Looking for a place to eat? Perhaps Google can help you find something in the area.
- Don’t know how to unclog a drain? There’s bound to be a how-to article or video.
- I’m bored. Show me some cat videos.
A search engine’s job is to list the most relevant pages that will solve these problems. The most relevant results will be displayed on the first page, less relevant on further pages.
The key here is to produce relevant content and optimize for targeted keywords and phrases that your potential customers and prospects are using. If you compare the results on the first page versus results on the bottom half of the second page and on, you’ll notice a marked difference in relevance.
“The former are probably extensive articles that are easy to read and contain a lot of valuable information. Chances are that the latter mostly have thin content (little or no original content that is of low value).”
“Quality content will automatically attract more links. This will in turn improve the ranking of the page. As we’ve seen in our introduction to SEO article; every link to a website is seen as a vote for that website. The more links you get, the higher the page will rank. Remember that links from high authority websites are more valuable than links from less established sites.”
Don’t forget the other benefit of social sharing as discussed above. Quality, relevant content will be shared with others. Funny, interesting, emotional content is shared each and every day on all major social media networks, which results in increasing your website’s social referrals
3. Avoid SEO pitches that arrive in your Inbox
If you’re a website and/or business owner, I’m sure you have received several SEO service offers via email. It’s become common knowledge that these emails are a scam and SEO spam.
They will promise you, or even worse, “guarantee you first page and first position rankings”, get you quality back-links, and claim that your website has a poor “SEO score” and that they can improve this score. While all this is possible with good white-hat SEO tactics, there is never ever any guarantee that an “SEO Expert” can deliver first position rankings in an organic search result. Any SEO company that tells you they “guarantee” you anything is certainly not a company you want to do business with.
A client of mine forwarded me an email they received from a “SEO Expert” who somehow listed these “facts” about my client’s website:
1. Your website is currently not ranking for any of your keywords.
2. Your SEO score is 68%. We can bring it to 100% by implementing on and off-page factors which fetch better results in major search engines.
3. You site has 6 Google back links, we can improve this further.
4. I can get your website to the front page of Google in two months time.
Here are my issues with each point this “SEO Expert” made:
1. How does this SEO know what specific keywords my client is currently targeting or wanting to target?
2. What is an “SEO Score”? Or, what particular SEO score is he referring to? His claim to bring this phantom “SEO Score” to 100% is impossible for many reasons. There are no 100%’s or guarantees when it comes to SEO.
3. How is this SEO pulling data from my client’s link profile? He doesn’t have access to my client’s Webmaster tools.
These are issues because most website owners don’t know or understand this information about their site so many will take this SEO at their word and buy into their scam.
Before you agree to any SEO pitch, check out this post on How to SEO Your Website and make sure your SEO is in the same ball park as you when it comes to your website optimization strategy.
4. Rankings aren’t the goal of SEO
Same goes for the gained traffic. This neat slideshow on 5 Intriguing Facts About SEO says that “rankings aren’t the goal of SEO. Neither is the gained traffic…They are the prizes for your marketing efforts. They are the results of building great content, effective distribution via various online channels, communicating with users, building trust and a community around your brand.”
They go on to say “SEO isn’t about focusing on content, it’s not about focusing on keywords, and it’s not about putting your content in every place you see and therefore spamming.” This is an interesting perspective to SEO and one that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
+ SEO is about putting all of the above together as one cohesive Internet Marketing Strategy.
+ There isn’t a quick fix to SEO and website optimization issues. SEO is a long-term process that involves research, competition analysis, relevant, quality content creation, and tweaking your metadata regularly.
+ A strong, engaged social media presence on key social media sites is key to your SEO. It gives you a place to share your quality content, have it shared and produce valuable social signals to search engines.
+ Don’t worry about the plethora of Google Algorithm changes and simply focus on optimizing your website and website content for your users.
+ There is no guarantee with SEO and don’t believe anyone who tells you there is. Put or time, knowledge and skills into developing your brand or put your money into hiring an SEO professional and/or paying for digital ads (Google AdWords or Social Media Advertising).
+ Build great content that is useful for your users, effectively distribute this content via your website, blog, and social media sites, communicate and engage with your users, and work to building a trust and a community around your brand while positioning yourself as an expert in your niche.
Are you a website owner, SEO, or web developer? I’d love to hear your thoughts on SEO and what all new website owners should understand.