“How do I make my website do well in the search engines?” Customers ask about search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, all the time. Sadly, the answer is, “It’s complicated.”
Problem #1 – Different Search Engines, Different Rules
It’s important to show up on the first page of search engine results. Why? People usually only look at the first page. Search engines use something called a search engine algorithm to determine what sites to display first in the their results. This special formula weighs things like the text you have on your page, how recently the site was updated, how many people link to the site and a host of other factors. The problem is that different search engines have different algorithms. What works for Google might not work for Bing.
Strategy #1 – Focus on Google. Google is by far the most popular search engine. If you get things right for Google everything else should fall into place.
Problem #2 – What Works Today May Not Work Tomorrow
Search engine algorithms change over time. As Google tries to improve their search results they change their their formula. Once in awhile the changes are drastic. I’ve seen some websites had their traffic cut by fifty to 75 percent when Google made changes. How often does Google change their formula? See for yourself. SEOmoz has a good summary of changes at Google.
Strategy #2 – Pay attention to what Google says and keep an eye on your website statistics. While Google keeps the details of its algorithm a secret, it does provide helpful webmaster guidelines. I also recommend that website owners sign up for Google Analytics. Google Analytics is free tool that will help you monitor your website traffic. It details how people are getting to your website, how many visitors you have, how many pages visitors view and much more.
Problem #3 – Now There’s Social Media To Worry About
Website owners are now blogging, tweeting and posting things on Facebook. Google is paying attention to all of this. As a result, an increasing part of how websites are ranked is how they’re doing in terms of social media. There are so many ways to communicate with potential website visitors that it be overwhelming!
Strategy #3 – Focus on blogging as a start. Blog about your services, changes in your business, your community, frequently asked questions and keep blogging. WordPress blogs reach out to Google (this is called pinging) to let it know that new content has been added. While I haven’t seen statics on this, my opinion is that Google notices updates on blogs more quickly than it does on traditional websites. I’ve even seen this for websites built with blogging software. Additionally, the All in One SEO Pack is a great WordPress plugin that helps with SEO.
Bonus Strategy #3 – Once you have blogging down, move to Facebook. You can use a Facebook app called Social RSS to automatically add your blog posts to your Facebook page.
I’ve saved the best strategy for last. When all is said and done, my best advice is to focus on your website visitors. Give them useful and timely content. Make your website the sort of site that you would want to visit. That’s the best SEO tip of all.