SEO – Fact, Fiction, Art or Science
SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Have you noticed that there is no end to the number of people who have sprung up to tell you they can increase your rankings in the Search Engines. There are packages, programs, services and consulting all stating that it is imperative you be on the first page of searches in order to get clients. It’s so important that you should easily be able to get an ROI of many times the dollars you shell out. So is it so important? Will you get more customers? If so, how do you tell the snake oil sales people from the real thing?
Here are a few tips. First and foremost if your site is not converting people from lookers to customers then bringing more people to your site is not going to do any good at all. 100 anonymous lookers a month are exactly as valuable as 10,000 lookers a month unless you can convert some percentage of lookers to customers or at least prospects. Before you spend ANY money on SEO make sure you have an idea the percentage of lookers become prospects, then you can begin to evaluate an SEO effort in real terms.
SEO is a big subject for a short blog post and there are plenty of sources of information on the web about SEO. Any real SEO specific effort is likely to be expensive, either in your own time or in buying someone elses.
Now with that in mind here are some facts:
1. The search engine’s usefulness to it’s constituency is bringing links to search users that they find instantly relevant to what they were looking for, even if they are not good at searching.
2. The better a search engine does #1 the more people will use it and the more opportunity the search engine has to sell advertising which is their source of income.
3. On-Site SEO: One area of Search Engine Optimization focuses on how your site is built in the first place. This includes having features on your web site that allow the robot’s from the search engines, mainly Google, to recognize your site as having any relevance to someone searching using a specific term.
4. Off-Site SEO: Once a search engine decides relevance the next thing it will attempt to do is prioritize based on importance. Although all the criteria used by search engines is not published one that is well known is influence. Influence includes how many other site’s link to yours and how important are they. There are some really complex algorithms that attempt to measure the quality of the links. If you are a car repair shop and the link comes from an awards page on Edmunds.com it is likely more meaningful than if it comes from your mothers blog on cooking.com.
On-Site SEO should be understood by your web-master or web designer and should be part of any web site redesign. If your site is over 4 years old someone should look at it to find out if it meets modern search engine expectations. If not then it’s likely time to do some housecleaning and updating of the look and feel and navigation as well so use that as a time to make your site search engine friendly as well. Do your On-Site SEO with your knowledgeable web designer at that time.
The best way to do off-site SEO is by becoming actually influential. This is means creating great content, and your great content nearly always has to come from in house. But the good news is this is likely how you get clients now, by being really good at what you do. Now instead of telling people face to face you just need to write the content, get it on your site and then find people in your industry or similar who find your content interesting enough to link. Industry associations or other business associations you belong to are a great place to start.
SEO is something that you do while you are doing the rest of your Marketing. Being aware of SEO is primary, specific SEO efforts are likely more costly and less valuable than most would have you believe. And first and foremost make your web site convert lookers to customers before you spend any effort on SEO, that’s just good priority.