Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so often kicked around and many times misunderstood. Business people and marketers actively using the web as a source for promoting their products know of it, but not all are sure how to “optimize” their site. Now I’m no SEO guru, but I’ve had a bit of experience working with SEO programs and have attended a few conferences on the topic, including the recent AdTech show in San Francisco which I found invaluable. The common question is, “How the hell do I get my site to rank high on Google?” Ranking high on Google means having your site appear on the first page when a user on the net types a keyword relative to your business. This is referred to as a “natural” search, as oppose to a “paid” search where you pay Google for your text ad to appear each time your choosen keyword is typed in. A recent study that I blogged about (refer to SEO As Effective as Paid Search, Study Says) found that natural searches were just as effective in generating lead traffic as paid searches. To me, this further underlines the importance of adopting SEO practices.
Amongst all the different strategies I’ve heard, some so convoluted I wouldn’t know how to repeat, one thing holds true… CONTENT IS KING. The more relevant and useful your site content is to users searching on your keywords, the more traffic you will generate to your site. And the more traffic you generate, the more popular your content can become (measured by users linking to your site and bookmarking it), the higher your ranking on Google. This is a simple way of viewing SEO, but there are some things you can begin doing to optimize your site. Here are a few:
1. Include White Papers and Tips Related to Your Area of Expertise -Users interested in your products and services want to know how to use them to better their business, so give it to them. Your site should include white papers, tips, articles, and any other written material that users would find useful. The more useful the content, the more often they will come back for more. Return traffic is great in helping your rankings.
2 . Keep Your Content Fresh – Google is looking for fresh and relevant content related to keywords. Ensure you have content that is “dynamic” (regularly changing or updated), especially on your home page. This can include new press releases, articles, case studies, product announcements, and service enhancements.
3. Include Your Keywords in Your Browser Title – By doing this, you make it easier for Google to find you during a keyword search. You also want to repeat these keywords on many pages of your website, wherever applicable (it should not appear forced). This repetition also helps in increasing your relevance to the keywords.
4. Focus on 1 to 2 Keywords Per Page – The content of each page on your site should have a focused topic and use 1 to 2 keywords that are repeated throughout the page, starting with the page title, headlines, and body. The more focused and repeated the content is, the more searchable the page becomes.
5. In-bound Links and Bookmarks – Other sites linking to your website is one big way Google and other search engines measure the popularity of your website. There is a whole cottage industry within the SEO business that focuses on generating as many in-bound links as possible to a site. Google has gotten wise on it and has changed its algorithm to detect such blatant practices. From what I understand, Google measures the relevance of both your content as well as the site linking to your site. If both sites appear to be relating to the same topic, the more relevant it is and better the ranking. This increases even further when a third site (and more) links to both and also shares the same topic. If you have more than one web site, ensure they are linking to one another. This can be done by having the links appear on every page in the footer in small, light grey text. Also, use sites like Digg.com to submit your white papers and articles and see if the community “diggs” your content. The more diggs, the more traffic to your page(s), the higher it will appear through Google searches.