You probably understand that you need search engines to drive traffic to your website. But you may be confused by all of the conflicting information out there about the best SEO strategy.
Follow some of that advice, and you can waste a lot of time and money without building traffic to your site. There are two reasons for this:
- A misunderstanding of the purpose of SEO; and
- Reliance on outdated and ineffective SEO techniques.
But you can choose a better path. A sound understanding of the role of search engines in the online world and respect for your audience will help you master the mystery of SEO. Your reward will be traffic to your website and a solid chance at turning prospects into customers.
The Mystery of SEO?
OK, that was just a catchy sub-head. The truth is, SEO isn’t all that mysterious at all once you understand the motivation behind search engines.
Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engine providers have the same goal. They want people who use their search tool to return again and again. Their business model depends on upon repeat customers. Yes, even though it’s free for you to use a search engine, you’re still a “customer.”
That’s because the SEP gets something out of your relationship. It might be advertising, it might be data, it might be some combination of the two or something else we don’t yet understand. In any event, “searchers” are a valuable commodity; Google and others want to please them.
Get With the Program
People who use search engines are after information. They want it quickly, and they want their search results to be relevant.
As the internet developed, Google and others have endured and overcome a myriad of tricks by people who got their pages ranked higher than they deserved. You’ve probably stumbled on some of those creepy pages stuffed with advertising and keywords but offering you nothing of value.
Well, the SEP folks figured it out, too, and they responded with ever more sophisticated algorithms to defeat the slimy operators who tried to waste all of our time.
So, get with the program! Publish content of value, tag with appropriate keywords, promote the heck out of it, and SEO will work for you.
Three Easy Steps to Effective SEO
There are three easy steps to effective SEO:
- Publish content of value;
- Tag with appropriate keywords;
- Promote until the sun goes down (and comes up again in the morning).
Do these things, and the search engines will reward your pages with higher rankings. But any one or two without the remainder and your efforts will be wasted.
What exactly is website content? It might be text. It might be video. Or photographs, infographics or some combination of all of these. No matter the form, content is something people want.
Content educates, informs, or entertains. How can you create content that does one or more of these things? For many businesses, an informative business blog will produce a body of valuable content. Or you may organize a series of articles, videos, or podcasts on your website to provide visitors with information about a topic related to your products or services.
You might refer to the technical aspects of SEO as “tagging,” although it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Suffice it to say that you need to learn a bit about the keywords that people will use when they’re looking for products or services that you provide. Make sure that you use some of these keywords in your articles and your meta description and other HTML tags for your website.
You also need to know that it doesn’t do you any good to fill your articles with dozens of general keywords. Instead, look for opportunities to dominate a niche and find the keyword(s) that best describe your unique offerings.
You might seek assistance from an SEO professional or check out numerous online tools to help you discover the best keywords. Technical aspects of SEO are complex and ever-changing. What you most need to know is that old methods of stuffing keywords into your articles are archaic.
You can fill your web pages with great content and even hire an SEO expert to help you with tagging. But if you don’t promote your content, chances are no one will visit your pages and your articles will never gain search prominence.
That’s because the search engines use signals from real people to trigger attention. The search engine algorithms measure how much time people spend on your page, as an example. They count the number of times someone shares your article via social media or links to it from another website. And links from popular sites considered “authorities” will yield better ranking for your pages.
You get people to read your articles by making sure they’re well-written, informative, and perhaps entertaining. But you have to get people to your page in the first place, or they can’t read your article, so how can you do that?
Promoting your content can be harder than creating it in the first place, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Feature your articles in social media posts (with links);
- Create an email newsletter and link to your website from a brief summary of your article (make sure you let readers know how the article can help them);
- Develop relationships with other web publishers and get them to use your guest posts on relevant topics. Note: these posts should be original, not copies of what you’ve published on your site. But ask to include a link back to your site in the “author bio” area.
The number one reason SEO doesn’t work for people is that they give up too quickly. To get the most from your SEO budget, you need to plan, publish, and promote.
It is a road less traveled, and the reward goes to those who persevere.