SEO, the latest and greatest add on item for every new website contract. I want to be painfully honest with you today. May this article negatively impact my business? No because I am always honest with my clients. However some of my competitors are not.
SEO should be called Google optimization. Since google is by far the largest search engine. It is the one targeted by all the SEO companies. For good reason, they get the clicks.
SEO is tricky however. MOST COMPANIES VIOLATE GOOGLE’S TERMS OF SERVICE. Here is their webmaster guide There are no guidelines relating to what to do to raise your search rank. Here is their page on how to do it by the book It basically says to make a good site. That's it. This industry relies on empirical data to figure out what will make sites rank higher then others. There are many tools that are industry standard. Like: SpyFu SEMRUSH MOZ KWFinder. These tools help give the SEO company information to form strategy. However these companies are often very expensive to use.
Now before I go on there is a bright side to SEO. IT WORKS. Even though it is technically against the terms of service of google. It is irrefutable that SEO on a website will raise its rank. There are numerous costs both monetary and content wise that are necessary but we will discus that later.
This is when you attempt to get the site higher in rank (position in search results) for a particular key word. For example, for a hair salon you would reason “hair cuts in Philadelphia” so that is the first step. You then go to an SEO tool and the tool will tell you how many clicks that keywords top listings get every x amount of days. So you do this and figure out that you have chosen a good key word. You then type that keyword phrase into google and analyze the existing pages that show up. You count all the instances of that keyword and you analyze the other SEO cornerstones to do a possibility study. If you determine that a top position is within reach. You simply attempt to beat out the top ranking site. Or at least come close to it.
If you cannot beat out the top ranking site. You choose another keyword and repeat until you find a keyword phrase that is a good fit for the client. Usually trying to rank for things like “hair salon near me” work better the less hair salons are in the area. In some instances it is very easy to get on-top.
Basically to sum up keyword phrases. You are trying to be better at SEO then any of the existing companies on the first page.
This is very similar to keyword phrases. Many times the only way to rank for a keyword phrase is to create a landing page specifically for that phrase. This is because your home page is often about design. It needs to look good, have lots of pictures and there is not room for text and links.
Blogs also function as landing pages.
Simply landing pages are a great way to target certain keyword phrases. Everything about the landing page is designed to show google that you are the site for that specific query.
This is getting into googles idea that people like modern fast websites. The Hummingbird update was very into this idea. Simply, google wants the consumer to use google! So by giving the consumer fast useful content. They will keep coming back.
So make the site fast. Google will see that as a proper site that people will enjoy using, and they will promote it.
Very similar to load times, the website needs to be easy to use. Not just for visitors. But so google sees the site as quality content. This means that the position of things, the sizes the fonts and their colors all must be easy to use and look good.
Blogs are a good example, there should be one H1 tag, two or more H2 tags, three or more H3 tags and so on. There should also be lists, graphics, things that make the information easier to digest.
This is to let the google search crawlers know what the site and individual pages are about. By tagging we mean the image file name, the alt-text, and the image description. They all need to be relevant to the page or subject of the site.
Very important to get on-top of tough competition. Back-links or simply links. Are links from your site to other sites. More important, links from other sites to your site. These act as proof to google that the site or page is to be in a certain category. Also it ties the credibility of your site into that of the other sites.
For example, lets say you have an article linking to FBI.gov and also buyfingerprintcards.com This is a good indication that that site or page is about FBI fingerprint services.
Reversely, lets say on FBI.gov there is a link to your site. That will make google see your site as extremely credible.
This is the practice of getting consumers to type your website directly into the browser bar. This indicates that your site is desirable. People do not need to search for it. They simply go to it. Inversely you can promote clicks from google search results. This will show google that your site is a good result to give people. There are various means of accomplishing this. Basically if your credibility is down then you need direct visits. If it is doing fine but you want to solidify your rank then getting search clicks is good.
This is critical. To have a good map listing with google. As google develops they are actually showing less and less search results
They always show the maps section if a business in your area matches the search terms.
Additionally good reviews on your maps listing is how you make your maps listing rise to the top. It also boosts your sites credibility.
Very important. When google sees that your site or its content is being shared on social media, that is a great indication that your site is a good site that people like seeing.
Simply boost the sites domain presence on social media. Its articles, its pages, the home page, everything.
This is a funny one. Simply age is a major factor of a domains credibility. Also government sites are considered very credible. News sites. Business directories.
Credibility is hard to SEO. However using the above tactics can start you on the path to domain credibility.
So whoa, your SEO company isn't just taking your money to the bank and forgetting about it. This is a lot of work. However, often it is the job of the site owner to participate in the long term process. Threw writing articles, keeping these principles in mind, and understanding why the site is setup the way that it is.
This is all against the rules (besides back-links,) this information was found using empirical trial and error. None of it is sanctioned by google or any other search engine.
You must remember this fact: GOOGLE IS THERE TO SERVE PEOPLE, NOT BUSINESS. Their goal is to make Googlers stay loyal to google above all else. They are constantly refining the search engine to server content that people want to see. They do not care that you want to be seen.
With that said. If an SEO company guarantees that you will see x amount of increased traffic. I would recommend reading the fine print. Because there is no way to guarantee anything. Even if you have SEO data from 4000 sites. You can very well wake up one day to find google changed the search criteria and now everything is plummeting.
SEO in that way is an art. You must do the things that google is looking for. But make sure to not over do any of them because that will get you marked as spam and you will be worse off then with no SEO at all.
At the end of the day SEO is simply a marketing tool. It is ads without buying ads. IT IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL MARKETING. It can certainly help. But it is not the de-facto marketing strategy.
It also leads to a World Wide Web where every single site is bending over backwards to please google instead of providing relevant service and information.
Design often suffers from the obsession's with SEO. A true master will balance the two out. But to often is design sacrificed for SEO. The exact opposite of what was intended.
Side note. If your SEO company gets you a ton of clicks that fall off after a few months. They pushed google to hard and it is a nightmare to get back to normal. So be careful. Avoid people making promises that sound to good to be true. Like anything in life. The magic beans are not really magic. The sales guy is lying.