When it comes to search engine optimization, most people think of it as some kind of religious cult where members speak in tongues, intoning such mantras as “SERPS,” “Meta Data,” “Linkbait,” and “AJAX,” as though they were trying somehow to transmute lead into gold. Worst of all, there is so much conflicting data out there regarding the ever changing world of SEO that keeping current is almost a full time job in itself. Add to this, the fact that no sooner do you get a bead on what the search engines want, when they up and change their algorithm (as Google recently did with their Penguin Update), making the analogy to sorcery even more poignant as your listing disappears like a puff of smoke. So, if you don’t want to have to start the process from scratch every time the search engines decide to do a little spring cleaning, this is what you need to know:
1. Stop trying to please the search engine spiders and work on pleasing your audience instead. In the good old days before the turn of the century, many SEO experts would generate page one results by stuffing their homepages with as many keywords as possible. Some would even take this to the extreme, by generating nonsense paragraphs using white text that more or less guaranteed that they would have higher keyword saturation than the competition. While this tactic may have worked back in 1999, today’s spiders are trained to flag keyword spamming, along with other black hat techniques like link farms. Besides, who wants to read a website that is nearly unintelligible? If you really want to score points with both the search engines and your readers, start creating better content on a regular basis that engages, educates and intrigues your audience.
2. Having a blog isn’t the same thing as blogging. If your idea of a blog is to write an occasional paragraph about your business that would make the minutes of your next board meeting seem animated by comparison, then you really don’t understand what blogging is all about. The best way to maximize your blogging results is to generate weekly installments that solve problems, provide insight and/or provoke a reaction. Properly employed, blogging can be one of the best ways to increase your audience, create backlinks and get on page one of search engines. (Note: Google is gaga for blogs. A properly optimized blog will many times wind up on page one of the world’s most popular search engine in as little as 24 hours.) If you repost your best blogging efforts on article posts, zines and other blogs then you will not only create an opportunity for your blog to go viral, but you will also enhance your SEO at the same time.
3. Why read the book when you can wait for the movie to come out? I can’t stress the value of YouTube too much in terms of SEO worthiness. In the first place, YouTube is itself a combination of video portal, social network and search engine all rolled into one. Secondly, YouTube streams more than 3 billion videos daily, making it the most watched Super Station on and offline by far. Third and more importantly, it is owned and operated by Google. What this means is that a properly optimized video can jump from YouTube to Google page one. Better still, having a video on page one is 5 times as powerful as having your homepage in the same spot. Why? Because it is a fact that people prefer watching a video to reading text. Best of all, you can enhance your website, blogs, social networks and even your print literature by embedding videos in all of them.
4. How social are your social networks? Social networking is again another free marketing tool that makes your web presence 100% interactive and sticky. Just as with blogs, social networks are only useful if you feed them on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that you have to write a blogpost a day to succeed online. But you also don’t want to post only now and then. Especially with timeline driven social networks like Facebook, having long gaps between posts is not likely to help you build readership. One tip to making the job of feeding the social nets less of a chore is to link or repost your blogs on your social networks. Make sure the posts have links and offers embedded at the bottom of the post. This way you will kill two SEO birds with one stone.
5. How many websites should your company have? (Note: the correct answer is never one.) Four or five years ago, the consensus was that all a company needed to do was create one website chock full of as many pages that described the business as they could generate. Back then it was hoped that someone arriving from a search engine query would click around the site for ten minutes or so in order to determine if they should do business with you.
Today, the average website visit lasts less than 2 minutes. More importantly, if a visitor has to click onto a subsidiary page in order to find the item they seek, the next click you will hear will be the prospect clicking back to the search engine for a new search. Heck, it’s next to impossible to get web surfers to scroll beneath the fold nowadays. To give your business a competitive edge, you need to look at a search engine query as a question and the website or landing page as the answer. If you want to maximize not only your SEO potential, but also your conversions as well, then you need to research the keywords and phrases that correspond with your business and create a number of landing pages that contain a video, text and offer related to each keyword or phrase.
What it takes to cast an SEO spell
While it doesn’t necessarily take eye of newt to get the magic formula right, what it does take is imagination, interaction and
persistence if you are going to make the Tao of SEO resonate for your business.
Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a company that specializes in putting client websites on steroids. Carl also operates Jacksonville Video Production a cutting edge viral video production facility. Carl can be heard live every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern on Blog Talk Radio.