The importance of search engine optimisation
SEO can really be the bane of your life if you don’t understand what it is all about. You know that it is something you need, primarily because everyone tells you that you need to get it right, but what is right?
Almost everyone will tell you that it is all about getting up in the search engine results pages, but do they tell you how to get there? No they don’t! They will spend simply ages explaining that if you are not on the first page of the Google search, no one will find you because only desperate people go trawling through the endless pages that follow. But, do they tell you how to achieve that place of excellence on the first page that everyone wants to have. I’m afraid that they don’t tell you that!
There is a lot of talk and a lot of hype about the best way to achieve the pinnacle of success in this form of art and arrive at that elusive nirvana that you so eagerly seek. The reality is that if mere mortals like you and I you get to understand the rules of this game, they are prone to change and leave us just as much in the dark as before.
The really frustrating point is, this is all done for our benefit.
There are people out there who, when they know the rules, abuse them for their own personal gain, leaving everyone behind them. This is obviously something that the search engine companies are trying to stop and is one of the reasons why things change from time to time so that the search engines can have a better chance to show you the results you have asked for more accurately.
Of course, the other side of that is you have to keep making changes to hold your position on the search engine results page and that means creating an almost continuous flow of updates to your website that need to be made.
I’m sorry, but if - when you built your website - you sat back thinking it was done, I have some bad news for you. The truth is, you have only just begun; you are now the proud owner of something that needs feeding on a regular basis.
You might start to think you have created a monster. The more you feed it; the more it grows. The more it grows; the more it needs feeding. Will this cycle ever end before it eats you out of house and home? Hold that thought – it isn’t that bad.
There are many things that I could cover in this blog, but they may not achieve more than just bore you to death. Things like analysing webspam, investigating link schemes, policy enforcement and the development of web tools will not help you here. These are the things that will drive you to distraction and leave you more confused that when you started.
There are more important things that you should be aware of that you can do yourself without involving a team of geeks who speak a different language to you.
One of these is content. The content of your website is important because the search engines look to see what it is. Creating content for your website is not so much a question of its quantity, heavily laden with the most appropriate key words; it is more a question of its quality.
When you look at the many thousands of words written about SEO, there is one phrase which, time and time again, rings out above the rest, “Content is King.” Not just an array of words, but real content that has the ability to interest people, to motivate them to dwell on your website; that causes them to linger there and take in what you are saying to them, that inspires them.
Content is not about endless facts and data spread across the page. Content is about something of real value; something of real substance to your visitors; something that is useful to them, unique, different. Something, which will stand out in their mind from the other sites they will visit.
Content should be something of quality that will entice your visitors to come back to hear more. One question that you can ask yourself is this, “Are you giving your visitors a reason to stay on your site?”
Yes, it takes time to write quality content for your website but, in truth, you knew that it would. Isn’t that what companies across the world have marketing departments for – to dwell over the design and the wording of brochures making sure that it achieves the very best it possibly can?
I know this can be confusing, but you basically have two different types of visitors to your website pages, Googlebots and people.
The Googlebots are the software crawlers that roam through the Internet looking at the content of web pages. These have no soul and are easily satisfied by reading the landfill content, which is created by marketers working from a list of strong phrases and keywords, which are optimised for each page. The Googlebots must be fed to achieve your place in the ranking, however they will never buy from you.
The people, on the other hand, are those who will buy your products if they are enticed by you. I have had so many conversations with people asking me if we optimize their websites, only to discover that they wish to be Googlebot feeders and not business people.
It is simply this, if you fill your web pages with landfill content, you will fail to impress the people who can purchase from you. These sites are known as both customer killers and brand killers.
If you want your content to be ‘king’, you must decide for whom it is being written. Knowing your audience is a key part of getting the content right, and it has to be something they are happy to read. Content that is not focussed its intended audience is unlikely to achieve its goal.
Content should also be living, but what does that really mean? If you just sell boxes that are 6” x 6” x 6” there is clearly a limit of how alive that description can be and still make sense to your customers. However, if that is your product range you need to generate your content in other pages such as your blog or your newsletter.
Googlebots are looking for new content on your website and, believe it or not, your customers are looking for new inspiration as well. More to the point, living content that inspires people and that is what will be shared in the Social Media. That is where you start to reach other people and draw them to your website so that they can see what you have to say for themselves.
If you are looking at the cost of Search Engine Optimisation and asking yourself if you want to spend that money yet, this is something that you can do for yourself right now. The real question, of course, is do you have the time to do it?
I see so many websites where the links just don’t link. If it’s a picture you get a blank space with an “x” in it or you are redirected to a “404 PAGE NOT FOUND” statement.
If you can see it, so can the search engines and that can hold you back on your ratings. Worse than that, broken links are a statement to your site visitors that there is a problem in your quality control.
There is a difference between internal and external links. Most people understand that if you are linking to another organisation for a point of reference or a citation for what you are saying, the other website is not within your control. But when it is an internal link such as failing to reach your own “Contact Us” page which I saw the other day it is entirely different.
When the broken link is to the picture of the product you are trying to sell, it is unacceptable to most customers.
There are many free services on the Internet that will check your links for you at the push of a button. They are easy to find, I just Googled “free broken links” and got the following answer:
About 2,310,000,000 results (0.28 seconds)
Pick one and check your own website out on a regular basis. At least then you are in charge of your own quality control.