Search Engine Optimization
If you build it, they will NOT come.
Unless you tell them.
I built a lot of websites back then the old-fashioned way. It literally took weeks—if not months—to get a site fully built out back then, after creating the site structure, content, and all the “back and forth” that was necessary to get a client’s buy-in on the site look & feel and editorial content.
Finally, launch day came…and went, with nary a whimper. Nobody but your most ardent fans (parents and friends) knew about the existence of your site, much less had a reason to go there. After all, in many cases, 90 percent of any given website was really just an exaggerated brochure, right?
Read that statement above again. See the part that says, “Unless you tell them?” That’s the trick to getting eyeballs on your website’s pages. Up until around 2004 or so, “telling them” meant getting a site and as many pages as possible ranked for a select set of keyword phrases. Since the advent of “social media,” telling them has come to be SEO and social media.
Bottom line is that you need to get your site and all of its strategic pages (i.e., the pages and posts with content you want people to find on the search engines and on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) ranked on Google and Bing (those really are the only two search engines left standing).
How do you do that? How do you get a site ranked for a variety of keywords and keyword phrases (KWP)?
You get a site ranked for keywords and long-tail keyword phrases by employing a process called “Search Engine Optimization.” Of course, as alluded to before, SEO is NOT just about the search engines any longer—it’s also about establishing a presence on social media sites.
SEO has two distinct flavors: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to all of the things on your own website that you can control, where your main objective is to tell the search engines what you want them to know.
Think of it this way: The search engine spiders that go out and rummage through web pages are really, really dumb. They cannot even read images or video. All they really see is text. But they’re pretty obedient, too; if you tell them that a page is about widgets, you use widgets in your title, content (including H tags, bold, italics, etc.), categories, tags, and other page elements, Google and Bing will believe you.
If you do a really great job, Google might even put you on the first page of their search results for “widgets.”
That is, if there is no competition for that keyword! But because there is a ton of competition for nearly any one-, two-, and even three-word phrases, the search engines had to apply other factors in arriving at a search engine algorithm that rendered the best, most relevant results for keyword phrases.
So what did they do? They went to Off-page SEO. Off-page SEO refers to all of the factors that you do not control. Things such as domain age (an old domain presumably is “here to stay” and is given more weighting in the search engine results pages), number and quantity of “backlinks” (how other sites link back to your pages), and where those backlinks come from (a backlink from Wikipedia is better than a backlink from your cousin Bob, all other things being equal).
Google and Bing have both told us that “social signals” will play an ever-greater role in ranking pages. What does this mean? It means that—all other things being equal—those sites that get lots of social media attention will rank better than those that don’t.
Because search is also becoming more “personalized,” when two people look up the same phrase in Google, they will have distinctly different results, which is at first very disconcerting. But it makes sense when you think about it.
Let’s say you’re looking for a new baby stroller. What matters more to a brand-new mother? What an ad says or what her friends say? You got it—she’ll choose what her friends have or recommend. Since no two mothers have exactly the same friends, you can rest assured knowing that they will get different search results.
So what does this mean? You have to work hard at getting your content shared on social media sites.
Bottom Line Search Engine Optimization
The gist of all of the above is this:
- Create awesome content. It has to be valuable. Make it in such a way that you encourage your viewers to share your content.
- Get a gaggle of backlinks–and diversify how you source them.
- Make sharing your content easy.
That’s really about it.