Monday, September 23, 2013

Search Engine Optimization, the important questions

I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic traffic to your website. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself, that first sentence comes straight out of the playbook of an SEO sales person, a spamming sales person at that. But the offer is very compelling, “If you’re willing to overlook that we’ve made contact with you in an unsolicited and shady manner” we are here to solve your traffic problems and we’ll do it through the magic of search engine optimization (SEO).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the content and structure of your website in order to improve its placement in search engine results. You don’t need to look too far to find persons ready to sign you up for SEO services, in fact you may have been victim to SEO spam messages like the one below (note the bad formatting and grammar):

I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic traffic &amp; mo=st often you stick to Ad words to get more traffic which is quite expensive an=d the chances is high of getting a spam traffic as well ...<snip>.. This email just tells you the fraction of things we do, [blah, blah, blah] many other technical factors which can be sen=t to you on your request. If you would like to know more about our services then please write us back else you can give us a call us in our number ...

The message plays on the idea that you’re doing something wrong and if you just let us, we’ll help you fix it and thus “drive more traffic to your website”, which is what you need, right?

Not so fast. When trying to determine your real need and the real value of an SEO professional, a small dose of SEO skepticism is healthy. Starting with the wrong goals and measuring the wrong things will bring little value to your business. At minimum you should be asking the following questions.

  • How will you drive the right kind of traffic to my site?
  • How will I be able to measure the improvements?

Making the assumption that all new traffic is good traffic is simply a bad idea. A restaurant that ONLY sells beef burgers would see little benefit in being overrun by vegan visitors (unless they had just launched veggie-burgers). Our fictional restaurant might be more interested in getting persons who frequent a nearby chicken place. They might also want a methodology for measuring how changes in their communication affect the numbers of burgers sold.
Measuring the effectiveness of SEO strategies is part of what we will be covering in the upcoming session called “The Technology Behind Online Marketing” this Thursday. You can learn more about this free session at the Tutorate website.
Another useful practice is to put yourself in the place of the search engine providers, in other words pretend to be Google and think about how they bring value to their visitors. Think of Google as a person who is trying hard to distinguish a quality site from an impostor. The goal is to deliver useful search results to their visitors, since this is what makes them valuable to their users. If you were Google, what would you do if you started to notice that more “spammy” content was making in the top three search results? That’s what was happening around 2009/2010 so Google made changes to fix the problem. Most famously in 2011 they released Panda which had a major effect on the SEO industry as some popular SEO practices were now red flagged causing certain sites to plummet in the rankings.

As a web site then, your goal is to stay relevant. Don't try to "trick" Google by overusing words just to win at the SEO game. The guys who do that tend to drop in the listings when Google updates their algorithms. My final question. If you started with the assumption that your visitors actually wanted to know more about you and your offerings, how would this change the way you present information on your site? Your answer might be the key to improving your search engine rankings.

No comments:

Post a Comment