We’ve all heard that content is the most important part of a website. It has even been crowned “King”. We also know that if a website is difficult to find, it basically does not exist.
Hard To Find = Does Not Exist.
This is why Search Engine Optimization is so critical to your online marketing.
While Humans ultimately buy the products and services offered on the web, those products and services would rarely be found or purchased if the robots didn’t find and index them first. So, do we design websites for the humans or the robots?
Option 1 – Design for Humans:
It’s been proven through various forms of web usability testing and research that web users generally don’t read our pages… they scan them. In “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability”, author Steve Krug sums it up nicely:
When we’re creating sites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we’ve organized things, and weighing their options before deciding which links to click.
What they actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. There are usually large parts of the page that they don’t even look at.
We’re thinking “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), while the user’s reality is much closer to “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”
There are a number of proven methods to entice humans to engage with our message. The three main guidelines for writing for the web include the following:
- Be Succinct. Write no more than 50% of the amount of text used in print publications.
- Write for Scannability. Don’t require users to read through dense copy, which on the web sounds like Charlie Brown’s school teacher… “Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah, whah”. Instead, write short paragraphs, subheadings, and bulleted lists.
- Hire Professionals! Good content requires a dedicated staff that knows how to write for the web and how to massage your content into your website design layout for optimal read… I mean… scannability.
Option 2 – Design for Robots:
In order to successfully get content in front of card-carrying humans (a.k.a. potential customers), websites need to be structured so they are easily indexed by search engine robots (a.k.a. crawlers, spiders). Search Engine Optimization depends largely on keywords and key phrases, so writing keyword-rich copy is absolutely critical to increasing search engine rankings.
There are a number of proven methods to optimize web content for search engines. The three main guidelines include the following:
- Generate Keyword-Rich Copy. Content needs to works well at delivering your message to your Human visitors, while making your targeted keywords and key phrases easily indexed by Robots. Use your keyword phrases in headlines, title tags, in the first paragraph, the top of the HTML document, and in alternative text on images. But be careful not to overdo it – as you don’t want to appear to be keyword stuffing.
- Develop Accessible Markup. Accessibility is not just for the visually impaired. The more accessible your HTML pages are, the easier it is for search engines to read and rank them.
- Create a Detailed Site Map. Submitting a Sitemap XML file to the search engines helps them understand how to crawl and index all of the pages, including the frequency that the content changes.
While writing for robots is essential to SEO, don’t stress mechanical search engine optimization so much that user’s needs are forgotten. We must provide content on our websites in a format that supports the way both Humans & Robots use the web. We must write for human visitors first, and then optimize our code and content to help search engine robots find and index our pages.
Continuously read blogs, daily papers, and magazines
Most likely, you gravitate towards information about your industry. Just about any business is addressed on and offline in some journalistic fashion. Get to know specific writers and the kinds of information and stories they relate to the public. You may be able to offer yourself or your company as an expert cited source in an article.
In addition, most magazines have editorial calendars, which alert you of upcoming story topics. Your business can be proactive and offer insight for an eventual piece. Bloggers may also have a set list of topics to cover in the future; it may be wise to ask them.
Junior and senior-level executives may benefit the company by joining organizations pertaining to specific industries or joining a business organization such as their local Chamber of Commerce. Events are usually planned inviting opportunities to meet other professionals, spread the word about your company, intrigue potential investors and partners, etc.
Orchestrate fundraisers and events
Every business seeks exposure. Exposure helps brand the company and keep its name in the long-term memory of the mass public. Hosting fundraisers and other events facilitates a company’s acclaim. It shows the company is interested in giving back to the public and provides a platform for the public to interact with the company brand. Hosting events are especially beneficial for local businesses that would like to begin and strengthen relationships with local customers.
Elect Company and Executives
The business world hosts a large number of business awards. Use a search engine to search for business award sites, such as the Stevies, and nominate your company and its executives. In addition, you can search for state and local award sites. It creates another goal for your company to achieve and provides proof of your company’s recognition and excellence in your industry if you win.
Write Press Releases
Press releases can serve multiple purposes. It is advantageous to attempt to have one release achieve many. A press release:
- can be sent to local and nation-wide reporters and editors. Remember to write a newsworthy press release; otherwise, your release won’t get featured anywhere.
-can feature multimedia such as sound and video clips. Clips augment the information contained in the content of the text.
-can be used for SEO purposes using your company’s keywords and phrases
- educate the public about upcoming, company events
While there is no true road map that we can pull from the glove compartment and unfold to help us navigate the search engines, it has been proven that these common pitfalls will be detrimental to your organic search engine marketing efforts. As always, hire an expert to handle these services for optimal performance and continued results.
1) Starting Too Late
SEM should be well thought out as early as when you first register your domain name or plan your new web design or re-design. The concept of customizing your web pages content toward targeted keywords and key phrases has become more apparent and rewarded with top position results given by major search engines. These results are in no way an accident nor are they necessarily just a trick used to fool your way to the top. They more importantly benefit the visitors of your web site.
Advice: Give thought to your prospective customers and the keywords you want to focus on early in the marketing development stage.
2) Spy vs. Spy
In the wild, wild west days of SEO there were plenty of agencies offering top results, and getting it, by font matching (hidden keywords stuffed on a page that match the color of the background of a page), soliciting links from link farms as well as generating duplicate content (multiple pages with the same content). These practices are labeled “black hat” (as opposed to wearing a white hat and being the good guy) and quickly may cause penalization toward your site and in some cases lead to being banned.
Advice: Let a professional SEO company do what they do. Industry professionals have seen what works and will be able to adapt a campaign to meet your companies’ needs.
3) Less Is More
OK, you’ve got your site up and running. You’ve seen some traffic coming in. Now is the time that you decided to do some research on how to optimize your web site. That’s fantastic! Problem is, you took every single suggestion you found on the web and applied it toward your pages. Over optimizing a web page or web site can and will be detrimental to your SE results.
Advice: When in doubt, natural is best. A properly optimized site will feel natural to read and navigate. Don’t force keywords in where they shouldn’t be.
4) Too Much Coffee
5) What’s In Your Head?
There are tags used for specific reasons when it comes to search engine placement. Regarding the most important element on the page, the content, there are header tags and paragraph tags. A page without header or paragraph tags is a missed opportunity. Optimizing the layout of your page by utilizing the correct components is essential in assisting with identifying the more important elements on that page.
Advice: Try not to use any lower than an h2 tag for identifying a header and make certain that your targeted keywords and phrases are evident within them.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being involved in the online marketing industry is the fact that many “experts” in the SEO field act as if there is a certain “magic” behind SEO that only a few select individuals possess. These “experts” guard this information as a magician would protect his secret magic tricks. These “experts” also build fear in potential customers by claiming that only they can get them results and that other companies will get them “blacklisted” by search engines.
These practices are what in many ways have given the Search Engine Optimization industry a bit of a black eye. The reality of it all is that many people don’t understand what goes in to getting good natural search results and they rely on “experts” to help them get those results and some companies take advantage of this lack of knowledge to exploit these customers.
While every company you speak with will claim to be “the best”, keep in mind that very few companies will actually get you blacklisted but at the same time, very few companies actually get you results. WebiMax applies the core principles that we have put in place for years to get our customers the type of results they are seeking. Proper site structure, well written content, frequently updated content, proper meta and h1 tags, strong relevant inbound links from quality websites and comprehensive site map which interlinks your website pages correctly. While there is obviously more that goes in to this process beyond these points, it really isn’t “magic”, is it?