Oh SEO, that overused acronym that congers visions of greatness on the cheap and growing rich on the back of Internet sales you derived on a zero ad spend. In this article we examine some truths and unrealistic expectations associated with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Way back in the day, like 2007-2008 and before, you could have a substantial impact on Google’s ranking algorithm by manipulating your site structure, HTML code, and its worded content (articles etc…). Back then it was tons of fun when you’d learn something about the algorithm and immediate apply it to your domain properties to gain a traffic advantage. At this time, mining for these “exploits” wasn’t about being luck but rather by a complex strategy that included hundred and sometimes thousands of domains and server side analytics (NOT GOOGLE) running stats software designed to decipher traffic data and organic placement in referrer log lines. Those were the days.
Today, many factors and changes exist that make the old days, well old. Internet usage has skyrocketed making logging and processing far more difficult in any real time way to make it actionable. So many people use Google Analytics as a cheap way to simply know what the site performance looks like. Basically, you are using the people that rank you to collect your performance metrics. This should make you laugh, especially if your site traffic sucks and and you’re not where to be found on Google. So, they know you don’t get traffic, I guess that means they think your site sucks! From an SEO standpoint, it probably does.
What can I do about all this?
If you’ve read this far, here’s your reward. Wisdom from a former foremost authority.
- Make sure your site closes business
Understand that nothing happens or benefits your company if your site doesn’t close business. You can have all the traffic in the world and it won’t mean anything. You need to get a User Interface (UI) person to go over it. You can do it yourself but you need to put on your client hat and REALLY think it through. Every single place you ask for the person to take an action is important! Basics include prominently postioing phone numbers and buttons to take these actions.
- Validating the User Interface with Paid Traffic
So you took my advise in step #1. Now you need to know if your changes and assertions about those changes and their ability to close business work. In order to test your new site changes, you need to flow some traffic. Get a Facebook ads account or Google Adwords account and buy some strategically designed traffic (service area demographic centric). How much is up to you, you need enough to show up on your Analytics reporting to see how people flow through your site looking for when ACTION events occur (hitting the buy button).
- Set up a slow stream of paid traffic (SEM)
So, whatever your do in SEO changes to your site after you know it closes business, won’t take effect in search engines anywhere from 5 days to 3 months. Basically, you have time and you shoudl take that time to do the SEO as right as you can. In the meantime, you should setup an Search Engine Marketing (SEM) effort in the form of a campaign to slow trickle traffic to your site and get it out on the web. This will give you more and more information about your UI/UX and close rates while you wait for your site to get picked up.
- It’s time to SEO that site
So now you know that your User Expereince (UX) and User Interface (UI) lead to user actions/events like sales. You have your trickle inflow traffic from the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) effort you established. You are ready to dive into SEO.
Depending on the site you have (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, other), each one will present its own challenged in applying SEO related best practices. I would say that if you think you can get rich from an SEO effort, you better be cutting your website by hand, additionally, to further rule the search engines, you should also be a programmer so you can throw dynamic SEO A/B testing concepts at the search engine bots visiting your site. This keeps the bots collecting changes, you in control and the programmers at Google defending the index.
Here are some big time basics for the newby:
– All images should have ALT tags. They are an opportunity to convey context and relevence
– One or two META keywords. These focus the content of each page. Don’t water down the value of the site with too many.
– A META description. Call me old school. It doesn’t hurt and again lends context and relevance to the page and its message
– At least one internal link based on words that lend context and relevance to the site message and the link it goes to internally. The suggestion is you have more that one page with important stuff on it.
– An external link when appropriate. If there is a way you can convey relevance and context with an external link just one is helpful.
– Title of the page. The title should have at least one keyword concept that FOCUSES the page. It should be in the META Keywords and META description. It should be used within the page text as well.
– URL – The URL, if you can, should contain the keyword FOCUS you established in the title, the META and content. https://www.bozo.com/the-clown. Use “-” to denote a space ALWAYS in the URL if you are doing this. Don’t run words together, they won’t be ready, you’ll miss the opportunity.
– Social Accounts! – Don’t leave home without them. Social networks can help you with inflow traffic while your sites wait to be indexed on search engines. I use them extensively myself “to put domains on the board”.