March 30, 2010
Are you fed up with feeling baffled by search engine optimization (SEO) because of jargon and poor practitioners? Do you feel you have been charged too much for less than you were promised? This two part article sets out to explain the process and put you back in control.
If you have focused objectives and a clear online strategy then SEO will almost always be a good cost effective addition to the marketing tool set. The first thing to understand is that search engine businesses, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, have customers to satisfy too. Their customers are searching and they expect to see the ‘best and most relevant’ search results. I expect like me, you get frustrated if your searches bring irrelevant results first. No surprise then, that the methods used by the search engine operators are designed to deliver customer satisfaction. They work hard to eliminate bogus SEO services that aim to cheat.
It is possible for you to make your website ‘the best and most relevant’ for certain searches and to convince the search engine operator you are just that too. That is SEO. Each of my 11 steps to SEO heaven is necessary. I assume that you will be committed to a long term marketing strategy, and to measuring results with a view to adjusting your activity. The steps include those of preparation as well of those of continuous repeated activities. The early preparatory steps are perhaps the most important as errors here will frustrate the effectiveness of the later ones.
Armed with our clear objectives and online strategy:
Step 1 to SEO Heaven – Keyword Research
A vital first step that should not be undertaken lightly. While experienced pay-per-click advertisers will know that you can easily test and change hundreds of keywords in paid search campaigns, they should understand this not possible for organic search optimization. It is normally advisable to concentrate on one to five key phrases for the whole site around a core theme. Then, for individual pages only one to three phrases. For large sites with hundreds of pages it is hard to optimize every single page. The effort and cost of SEO to the full extent produces diminishing returns.
Step 2 to SEO Heaven – Competitive Intelligence
SEO is competitive. There is only one front page and only one top slot so it is important to know your competition and perform better. What are they doing? Where do they rank and for which keywords? Who is linking to their website and why? The less competitive your industry is online the easier it is for you to outperform your competition. This is an important determining factor in the cost and resources necessary to achieve your desired SEO outcome.
Step 3 to SEO Heaven – Web Design and Development
Like trying to cable an old building for modern communications or boosting performance of an obsolete machine, fixing a bad website design is much tougher than building properly from scratch. When you create a new website, make sure to consider search engine friendly design and architecture before and during the actual development of the website. Almost all template-based websites are tough to re-engineer for SEO. A good design from the start will save you a lot of time and money. In most cases it will put you ahead of a considerable number of your competitors. In most cases a high performing design for SEO is also a user friendly design, but occasionally compromise is necesary.
Step 4 to SEO Heaven – Get Your First Inbound Links
There is no need to pay to submit your website to any search engine. Just as soon as you create inbound links from other websites to yours the search engines will find your website. There are plenty of scam products and services. Avoid them. They are a waste of your money. No one can guarantee you a number 1 ranking. It must be earned and maintained by being the best and most relevant.
There are some web directories that are recognized by search engines and gaining a trade listing there will be a helpful kick-start to your SEO campaign. Then ask your customers and suppliers to place a link to your website from theirs. Most will be pleased for the favor to be returned.
Step 5 to SEO Heaven – Sitemaps
The larger search engines allow webmasters to submit a sitemap to them via a webmaster console. The search engines also provide reports and other useful information, such as technical problems with your websites you might not be aware of via their console. Even if you decide against the submission of a site map to the search engines, it is advisable to create an account and register your website with them, just for the reports and statistics they provide free of charge and which are invaluable for your internet marketing efforts.
After completion of the first 5 steps, schedule them for occasional review. The remaining tasks require regular and repetitive effort. In Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven (steps 6 to eleven) we look at taking a website that is a SEO ready site with a ready to run campaign and look at the steps and work needed to claim a high search engine ranking.
Tim Meadows-Smith is an experienced non-executive chairman, director and business advisor from a classical sales and marketing background gained with famous global FMCG brand owners. He has worked with businesses globally in the FMCG, logistics, service and technology sectors. He may be reached by email at Tim@Meadows-Smith.com. Find further articles at: http://www.timmeadows-smith.co.uk/blogarticles.php