April 1, 2010
One piece of ‘new media jargon’ that has got the vast majority of business leaders confused is SEO (search engine optimization). Too many people have been charged too much for either inappropriate or ineffective SEO services, often because the supplier does not really understand it either. This two part article is for people who are not experienced or very knowledgeable when it comes to SEO – defining what it is and what it can do.
The introduction and first five steps to SEO heaven discussed how to get a website ready for an SEO campaign. In part two (steps 6 to 11), we’ll explore the continuous and competitive process of earning a high search engine ranking for a SEO prepared website.
Step 6 to SEO Heaven – Web Analytics
As with any marketing, but particularly for online marketing, where the tools and results are so effective, it is essential to measure and track results. Market behavior is very predictable. Accordingly, the effectiveness of each part of your campaign can be compared and optimized. The options for web analytics vary from free services to very expensive and customizable packages.
Whichever you choose, don’t put it off. Measure your results from day one and use them to improve your site and your marketing campaigns. That old statement ‘I know half my advertising does not work, if I only knew which half was not working I’d stop spending it’ is not true on the internet. You can and must know.
Step 7 to SEO Heaven – Content Building
Part of being ‘the best and most relevant’ result is having the freshest content, and the search engines look for that by regular visits to your site and reviewing your site’s progress. They use a formula, not usually a human being, unless they detect potential fraud.
Actually, good SEO means a website is never done, and the fact that it has to change and grow over time gives your customers a better experience. Search engines reward a ‘natural process’ that adjusts to changes in the market and your normal business growth.
Providing good quality content that is related to what you do, but not necessarily aimed at selling something directly, is a powerful, perhaps the the best, opportunity to increase the traffic to your website and the exposure of your business. Most people do not link to pages that only serve the purpose of making a sale.
This leads to the next step in this 11 step process of successful search engine optimization for your website.
Step 8 to SEO Heaven – Link Building
The internet works through links, it would not be a “net” without links. A collection of independent pages that are not connected to each other cannot be found and, for the most part, that defeats their purpose. People seeing and clicking on links to your site make effective inbound links that search engines like to reward with a higher ranking for your website. They are also vital for SEO.
Inbound links play an important role in virtually every search engine when it comes to ranking pages in their search results. In the normal course of business links are added, and sometimes removed, all the time. This never ending organic process is monitored and measured by the search engines as an indicator of importance and relevance – so it is advisable to be pro-active in acquiring good inbound links. There are plenty of sites out there that should link to you, but don’t know you and your content. Help them to find your content and encourage linking to it.
Step 9 to SEO Heaven – Engagement, Trust and Community Building
Like it or not social media is a reality whole sections of society participate in for hours daily and is a fundamental indicator of relevance and popularity. Don’t allow your website to exist in an isolated bubble. Talk to people and allow them to respond and to interact with you.
People will talk about you with or without your permission. Much better to seize the initiative and become part of the discussion. Use it to build trust and deeper relationships with your customers or potential customers. Use it like research. Listen to what they say and learn about their wants and their needs. Listen and take note of comments, especially criticisms, and use them to improve. You can save the money you might have spent on focus groups and get feedback free of charge on the internet.
In relation to SEO, social media provides a huge opportunity to expand your link building. For your business it increases your brand exposure for a fraction of the cost of traditional, more intrusive advertising campaigns that are usually less effective.
Step 10 to SEO Heaven – Ranking and Traffic Analysis
When you begin, or if you have already started, check where you are today to be able to track and compare with data in the future. Look for trends and evaluate the progress towards your goals. You know those goals which we set in the first paragraph before we began the campaign. The ones you should specify before you engage in any type of marketing campaign. Those goals were measurable I hope? If you view improving your SEO ranking as a measure of your business success rather than an essential step to achieving business success, you will maintain a high SEO ranking for the long term. Why, because the high traffic that comes with it will drive your business.
Does the change in ranking yield the traffic you expected? Does this traffic actually convert? Which leads us neatly to step 11 of SEO heaven.
Step 11 to SEO Heaven – Conversion Analysis
All of this effort matters not one jot unless you make your profit number (or the equivalent in not for profit organizations). It all comes down to one critical factor – what is your bottom line? Did you make profit or did you
lose money. Web Analytics is part of the process of making this determination. Focus on the things that work and help your bottom line and stop doing the things that don’t. Work on the details to increase visitor conversion to sales. This requires testing. Don’t try anything upfront without testing it first. The things that work for others might not work for you and the same is true the other way around.
Many with experience in the SEO game will tell you that there is another, more important step that would make this article 12 steps to SEO heaven. That step is to be sure only to work with people who can really explain SEO in plain English. To be blunt, small, independent and one-man-band web designers rarely get SEO fully and their usually well meaning efforts end up costing you more than they deliver. They do get part of the story, but they fail you by wasting both your money and your time.
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