Every day billions of people use search engines to find information about topics that interest them. In July 2010, the research firm Comscore recorded 16.6 billion searches in the U.S alone. From consumers searching for restaurant reviews to multinational corporations seeking major partnerships, search engines are a key way that customers find businesses, and businesses find each other.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of optimizing your company’s website so that it can be easily discovered through web searches. The more successful your optimization, the wider is your sales net. Considering the vast scope of the Internet, once your website has been successfully optimized, customers you would never have been able to locate through any other means will start approaching you for goods or services.
Although SEO is a great way for any business to attract new customers, I have found that only e-commerce and consumer-targeted companies tend to invest a significant portion of their marketing budget into SEO. Yet, data shows that websites that don’t appear on the first page of a search are largely ignored. Even the difference between where you are on that first page can make a tremendous difference.
From my experience I’ve found that most companies neglect SEO simply because they haven’t heard of it, or they think it is only important when selling directly. I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t thinking about SEO, your competitor probably is, and you need to act now to maintain your competitive edge.
A Majestic SEO Overview
In the same way that you plan collateral for a trade show, the elements on your website need to be tailored to appeal not only to customers but to search engines. Think of it this way: instead of flashy signs and giveaways to get people to talk to you, you have search engines that show results for exactly what your audience is looking for; instead of the booth itself, you have a well-designed website that keeps the attention of the visitor and encourages him or her to follow up with you.
Two SEO Myths and Misconceptions
“We’ll do a big push later.” Often, companies mistakenly assume that a SEO “push” can be done at any time, and that this will instantly increase their search engine visibility. Wrong. Like any marketing or public relations campaign, SEO needs to be included from the beginning in order to be most effective.
Google, which controls the majority of searches (currently 70%), detects sudden changes relating to your website, such as when there is a marked increase in the number of links pointing to your site within a short period of time. Therefore, to suddenly do a SEO “push” is not only bad planning, but can lead to a Google penalty. Nowadays that is the equivalent of casting your company’s online presence into obscurity.
“SEO isn’t necessary for my website.” Many companies mistakenly conclude that they don’t need SEO because they don’t have a product they are selling directly, or perhaps they are not actively reaching out to customers at the current time. But if your company doesn’t have an audience of some kind, you wouldn’t have a website, or a business, for that matter. Understanding your audience and what they search for is vital to the overall success of your business.
Four Quick Tips To Get Started With SEO
Now that we’ve covered the importance of SEO, let’s discuss three simple ways you can optimize your website.
1. Evaluate the SEO Strength of your site
There are many more factors that influence your SEO score, and learning all of them requires precious time which you probably don’t have. You can use our company’s free online SEO evaluation tool to get a pretty good idea what the SEO health of your site is. With This information you get can easily spot common SEO issues like problems with your metatags or sitemap, and fix them yourself.
2. Fill in the Title Bar
Take a peek at your Title Bar (the blue space at the very top left of your screen, or found on the Window menu of Macs). If you see a generic default that says “Home” or “Company Name,” you can be sure that your site is definitely suffering from a lack of SEO. The Title Bar may mean nothing to you, but it is one of the most important pieces of information that search engines use to determine the relevance of your company’s website to the searcher’s query. In other words, it provides search engines with the key terms they use to determine what your site is all about.
3. Keyword Selection
Selecting the right keywords is easier than you think. If you sign up for Google Adwords, you will be able to see at no charge not only what people are searching for, but also exactly how many people do a particular search each month. This allows you to determine the big keywords everyone is looking for such as “green energy,” but also smaller more targeted ones that your direct audience will be looking for. These keywords are known as long-tail, and though often ignored, they can sometimes be the most vital.
4. Meta Descriptions Matter
Often when building their website, companies ignore the “meta description” area, seen only in the HTML but not by visitors to the site. Search engines often insert this text below a website’s name in the search results. By leaving this section blank, you let the search engine’s robot to decide what is important about your site, rather than providing that information yourself.
The Best Long-Term SEO Strategy
There is no substitute for quality content when it comes to website design. Quality content is also the key component in SEO, because search engines privilege sites that provide detailed information about what they have to offer. Sites that offer only meager information such as those that, for example, list only products and prices, fall to the bottom of the search results. Creating pages that are interesting, useful, and even educational to your audience is the best long-term SEO strategy. It will not only score points with the search engines, but it will repeatedly bring customers back to your site, and cause them to want to share it with others via email and social networking platforms.