What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a host of techniques, approaches, and strategies to prepare your website to be found by major search engines. It is often compared to alchemy. Everyone knows what SEO experts do, but very few know how they do it. In fact, many SEO gurus fiercely disagree on the how part. Many tactics are available, but SEO is not a cheap endeavor, so one must be careful when allocating valuable advertising dollars.
First, you have to be clear on what you are trying to accomplish on the business side-focus, focus, focus! Second, you have to reign in your zeal and prepare yourself for a grueling multi-month commitment that will require time, discipline, and money to be ready to spend time in the trenches. Finally, you have to decide which tools and techniques will produce the best return on investment (ROI). If you spread your resources too thin, you will fail.
If you’re looking to get yourself on the first page of Google’s search results immediately, this SEO guide isn’t for you. Don’t believe people who claim they can get you on the first page overnight in an ethical way. Even if you manage to cheat the system for a short time, Google’s wrath will land upon you swiftly and never go away. If you are serious about SEO, prepare yourself for the long haul and do it right. Your patience and diligence will pay off. There is truly nothing complex about SEO. It rests on three principles: Valuable, relevant, unique, timely content will rank well on search engines. The content must be machine-readable to be found. SEO work takes time to produce results.
Let’s start with valuable content. Before you even mention the term “SEO,” ask yourself, what do I have to offer the world, why is it unique, and why would anybody want it? Do you have a digital strategy covering all your digital communications channels? Remember that you are competing with millions of other websites. Theoretically, you could spend lots of time on SEO and get to that coveted first page to learn that customers don’t find your
content, products, or services appealing. Conversely, don’t give up too fast. Many business owners with great products and services never get through to their audiences because they don’t bother with SEO. The axiom “If you build it, they will come” stands eternally false on Google. The onus is on you, and if you don’t make a compelling case to Google, it will ignore you unless you are the only one in the universe offering that super hot product (e.g., you have a monopoly). So, produce content that stands out. Make sure you provide value. Sometimes it is a sacrifice. You may choose to share valuable information that your
competitors may use against you. You may choose to take unique perspectives that may incite a debate or even draw criticism. Be yourself, be unique, and be interesting. You need to give to get. Provide more than a sales pitch. Do a cost-benefit analysis that includes the value of brand recognition. Remember that it takes time to see results, usually one to two months, sometimes longer. Your ultimate goal is to find your competitive niche and establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise so you can influence buying patterns. People will remember you and come to you when the need arises. Concerning
content, make sure everything you write is well structured, clean, and free of factual and grammatical errors. Write using plain language. There are multiple resources on this. It is generally recommended that website content is written at the grade six reading level. Sometimes it may not be possible for all industries but do your best. Another helpful metric is the Flesch-Kincaid readability index. It’s recommended to keep it above 60 (you can use this free tool). Be friendly, approachable, and lighthearted.
Use humor, but be careful not to offend and cross boundaries. Always keep your audience in mind. Please make sure the most important information is at the top of the page to be easily located. Web-users don’t read; they skim. Use headings and bulleted lists. Make information digestible, and avoid jargon, clichés, and colloquialisms as much as possible. Make sure that your navigation structure is task-oriented and user-friendly. Your user experience must always take people through the happy path.
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