Often times clients come to me and one of the first things they ask me about is search engine optimization (SEO). There is a common misconception, that you can make a few easy tweaks and all of a sudden you’re number one in Google for any key phrase. Now, that would be nice and oh so easy. If only it were true…
If you have a website, I am sure you are no doubt inundated with emails from SEO companies promising to make you number one and very quickly. However, in their emails, they fail to even mention what you do for a living and/or what your website and businesses is even about. Still, they make you these promises and I am sure after sending tens of thousands of emails they hook a few fish on the line. Many times they will use what’s called black hat SEO methods which may even give you a quick bump before Google removes you from the index altogether. Now, you have spent thousands of dollars and your website is in even worse shape than it was before. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Google’s algorithm is one of the most closely guarded secrets on the planet. It is worth billions of dollars, and there is not a single company that can reverse engineer Google. No way, no how. True SEO is following Google’s guidelines and using some elbow grease. You have to commit to trying to improve your website, both by doing the SEO basics, as well as sticking to producing consistent, quality content that is well written and beneficial to anyone that visits your website.
It is right there on Google’s own website. And we have this text on our SEO page:
“Give visitors the information they’re looking for: Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”
There it is, they laid it out for you. There are no shortcuts, and like anything else in life, you need to work hard for success.
To me, I want my website to be of such a high quality that when potential customers/clients read the content, they have a belief in my skills and subject matter expertise pertaining to the web. So write your content, not from a search engine standpoint, but from a human-readable standpoint. Because there’s no sense getting people to your website when they will just read a bunch of gobbledygook and leave to go to one of your competitors. That’s the thing the black hat SEO companies never tell you. They’re all about quick rankings. And, unfortunately, what they promise, they can never deliver.
Here’s one of my favorite examples: an offshore SEO company emailed me and called me for months, begging for an appointment. Well finally, I had enough and said yes. I spoke to this guy and he promised to make me number 1 for anything and everything. I asked what the cost would be. He said it would be roughly $1500. I said I’ll tell you what, I will give you $3000. He was flustered, and said what do you mean? I said that you are an SEO company. Yet I don’t find your company in the first 200 rankings in Google for “SEO”. So I will tell you what, if you can get your company on the first page (Not even number one) I will then pay you to double your rate to work on my website and recommend you to many clients. He thanked me and said he would be back in touch soon. It has been three years, and he has never called me back, and their site still is not within the first 200 listings. Why? Because if it was that simple, anyone could do it. I assure you, it is not that simple.
Here are some tips for improving rankings:
- Create a content schedule for blogging and stick to it. Remember, Google likes consistent, quality content, so you can’t write every six months or so and expect to improve your rankings
- Write posts that position you as a Subject Matter Expert, or “SME”. There is never a downside to content that makes you look like a thought leader within your field.
- Within your posts, think about what you’re trying to be found for and incorporate your key phrase or phrases. By using a solid SEO plug-in, you can get some good ideas as to how to incorporate the phrase without doing what’s called keyword stuffing.
- Solve a problem – Google seems to like posts that actually solve a problem. Many times people are searching for things and their query is a question, how to do something as an example.
- A lot of times people have trouble sitting down and writing. I recommend making a recurring meeting where you block off time for just this purpose.
- Used tools like Siri or your computer’s voice tool to write with. You can write much faster with your mouth then you can typing on the keyboard. Of course, this means you need to go back and proofread everything as the technology is far from perfect, though much improved. But I would assume you would do that anyway.
- Constantly be reviewing your content, and improving it. Use Google Webmaster tools to resubmit pages after you’ve made changes. This will speed up the re-indexing of said pages.
- Take care of the basics, make sure each page and post have proper titles and descriptions. Again, a good SEO plugin can help with this.
This, of course, is not a complete list. The moral of this story is to remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and you really need to put in a lot of time and hard work in order to improve your rankings. While no one can guarantee you number 1 for any given keyword, I can promise you that you can make steady improvements over time. But you have to use Elbow Grease.
If you are in a hurry to be ranked and don’t have time to wait then I would recommend using Google Ad Words in order to be found quicker. Now this, of course, can be cost-prohibitive depending on what keywords and phrases you need to be found for. What I like to do is do my best SEO work and then filling the gaps by using Google ad words. A well-constructed ad words campaign can be profitable, but you have to be very careful as expenses can really get away from you and before you know what you’ve spent thousands of dollars with very little return.
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