I’ve talked to hundreds, if not thousands of clients about their websites, their visitors and the vital link between their websites’ traffic and increased profitability. During these discussions, I’ve been privy to many insider stories about past experiences with previously hired search engine optimization experts and I can only wish that I documented the feedback that I’ve received over the last dozen+ years, but I had no clue that these particular conversations would have been so surprising, so revealing and so frightening that I never thought to do so. Sure would have made for a spooky and spine-chilling Halloween story… but because it wouldn’t have been fiction, it would have bordered on the line of witnessing a real-life Horror and since I haven’t bought the “Halloween chills” binder on my liability insurance I’ll save that story for another day…
Instead today I aim to teach you a thing or two about search engine optimization, and about what search engine optimization experts especially don’t want you to know. I’ll empower you so that in turn you can help yourself to succeed. If you’ve got the time to learn and to execute, you will be able to take these steps to help increase your targeted traffic and of course your revenue as a result. You may not be able to do it as fast or as effectively as a search engine optimization expert that has years of experience, but at least it’ll start increasing your revenue so that you can start to realize the value of search engine optimization services and make the decision as to when you want to invest in an experts skillset and at the same time have a better understanding of what they will be delivering.
Why am I doing this? Why reveal what SEO experts won’t tell you? Because I can! Because I am 100% confident in my abilities and because I know that it takes years to gain the skills and experience that I have, and while you are perfectly capable of performing the steps that I’ll outline, you’ll invariably spend more time and lose significantly more money than you ever thought possible. I can hear you all now “But how can I be losing money if I’m not spending?” The answer is simple, you’re losing money because your competitors continue to grow and reap the rewards while you experiment and tweak your SEO efforts in an attempt to gain higher search engine ranking.
So then… now let’s get down to the details. Please note that my article will not cover the technical instructions, if you are unfamiliar with them, you should likely seek a professional because what could be a day or two of work, is more likely to exponentiate into a week or two of work and if done wrong could do more harm than good.
What is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (commonly referred to as SEO) is the optimization of your website’s layout, content and connections to increase it’s ranking within search engines. Each one serves a specific purpose:
Most companies offer more than one product or service and target many different types of clients. In order to reap optimal rewards from SEO, it’s critical to market each product or service distinctly. It’s also critical to consider the motivations for purchase from each of your target demographics at the same time.
After carefully considering and determining your website’s optimal layout, it’s important to ensure that each page targets the most relevant keywords based upon what that demographic is likely to use when searching for your products or services.
Connections refers to how many websites link to you. These links must be one-way links (not reciprocal) and must be of moderate to high quality (or at the very least not a website known for being a link farm or a spam haven). Consider the networking world, it’s who you know, and the same applies to websites. If a high-traffic, reputable company links to your website, it increases your “value” to search engines just like when you’re at a networking event and are introduced to a colleague by someone that holds authority and respect in the community.
Where do I start?
While I could never teach you everything in one article, here’s a quick little exercise to get you thinking, to whet your appetite and to help you determine if you want to go through the motions and try to increase your own search engine rank, or if you’d rather hire someone else to do it. There are 4 steps to do. For this example, I’ll use a local farm:
Step 1: Identify supporting information
– What are my products/services?
§ Jumping pillows
§ Pumpkin patch hayride
§ Children’s discovery barn
§ Cedar mazes
§ Haunted hayride
§ Barn of terror
§ Gathering of the Ghouls
– What are my target demographics and what are their main motivations?
o Teenagers/young adults
§ Thrills, fear, dates
§ Entertainment, group activities, shows, togetherness
§ Unique and memorable experience, unforgettable photos, romance of the country setting
§ Team building, showing appreciation, marketing
* To get children to sign up, you must captivate their interest but at the same time you also must convince the parents that it’s a good idea. Marketing to children is always a two-dimensional challenge; both the child and the parent must be considered.
Step 2: Plan layout
– Determine the association of products/services to their target demographics
– Determine if you will layout your website primarily based upon products/services or target demographics.
Step 3: Plan content
– Research most searched keywords (try using Google Analytics, it’ll take some learning but it’s worth it)
– Start optimizing your content (both visible and hidden)
o Review content and revise according to target(s) based upon researched keywords (Please note: this can be challenging because you will want to retain the appeal of your copy, but at the same time will want to reap the rewards of search engine optimized text. Take your time and tread carefully, rushing this can be disastrous to the marketing value of your copy).
o Ensure that “hidden” content is optimized based upon optimal search keywords (e.g. page titles, image “alts”, link “titles”, etc.)
o Ensure that your meta tags are optimized for users (the wording used in your META tags are typically used as the description in search results, more enticing text can easily triple or quadruple targeted traffic!)
o Determine if you want to separate your content by product/service or by target audience. Outline cross-sell opportunities and ensure that they are linked together
Step 4: Plan connections
– One of the most important aspects of your search result ranking is calculated based upon who (and how) websites link to yours in order to determine your rank in search engines. One-way (non reciprocal links) are important and ensuring that the keywords used within the links are chosen carefully to help increase your rank can go a long way. On the other hand, being linked to from websites that carry negative reputations can penalize you and possibly even blacklist you from search results. Don’t hire SEO “experts” that cannot provide testimonials that you can actually verify; if they use techniques not sanctioned by search engines they can do more harm than good! Mybest advice here is to take your time, write some quality articles (that include a link or two back to your site) and post it on relevant article websites; communicate and provide value to individuals in forums that are relevant to your industry, ensuring that your forum signature always links back to your website and add your company to industry listing sites that are geographically and/or industry relevant. If you only add 5-6 links a week you’ll quickly see this exercise alone resulting in your rank increasing methodologically and as your momentum picks up you’ll be unstoppable!
So, what’s the big secret that most search engine optimization “experts” don’t want me to know?
It’s all of the above. Once you know how truly complex and how much work there is to do when optimizing a website for higher ranks in search engines, you will realize that there’s no easy way to automate this as a service. Most SEO “experts” will simply target a few keywords based upon the content that’s already on your site, the layout of your site won’t be optimized and if they offer any of the services identified in the 4th step above, they’ll post to the same websites, directories and forums each and every time they offer the service to a client. They’ve automated it to optimize their profits while keeping your cost down, at the expense of providing you a search engine optimization service that may increase your traffic but not your profits because they are not targeting your demographics appropriately.
What’s the use of that you say? Well you’re no different than the hundreds or possibly thousands of clients who’ve said that to me already. High quality search engine optimization that delivers lasting results takes time, patience and ongoing dedication but if your customers cannot find you, or they find your competitor first – what is the true cost to your business? Only you can answer this, only you can change the future of your company, be proactive and do something about your search engine ranking today. Invest a bit of time each day, believe me, it’ll pay off in rewards that are faster compounding and more consistent than investing in stocks, real estate or any other asset in the world.
I hope that you find this article informative and useful. While I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, my goal is to give you an overall understanding so that you can choose your next steps. If you choose to attempt your own search engine optimization, then I strongly recommend you check out Amazon (or your favorite online bookstore) and pick up a book or two that is highly rated and has been published within the last 6 months to ensure that the techniques taught are still current. Most of all, my goal is to ensure that you don’t do anything to hurt your search engine positioning by making a mistake in your efforts. So many important lessons apply here but the most important one is to take your time and do it right.