SEO – Where is my Big Red Button?
“I guess they didn’t turn on my SEO,” said the client.
“Uh…Huh?” said the website consultant, an eloquent response.
“They didn’t turn on my SEO. My website designers, they didn’t turn on my SEO. Can you do that for me?” the client continued.
“Uh sure,” the consultant desperately wanted to answer, “just let me figure out where they put your Big Red SEO Button first, OK?”
Ah yes, that elusive SEO button. Where did they put it? Wouldn’t we all like to know?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not quite that simple. There is no magic formula for improving the ranking and page placement of a site in a Google search. There is no Big Red SEO Button to push, no SEO Lever to pull, no SEO Switch to flick to “ON” when you and your site are ready to be found. If only SEO were that simple. Just hit the switch and, Viola, the search engines rank you at the top of the page, the visits to your site spike like crazy, and conversions hit the roof, generating record sales. Ah, but we can dream, can’t we?
SEO Requires Content to be Effective
Search engines seek content. This is the key to successful SEO. Their only purpose is to find, index, and rank websites and blogs for the end-user; that being anyone looking for particular information from the vast array of content available online today. It is not their purpose to help you find a prospect, but to help a prospect find you, or your competition.
To do this, Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the rest, employ search parameters which continually search for fresh, original content related to specific subject categories. Added to this is feedback from the end-user, based on “click-through” traffic patterns as the result of these search results, which helps them rate the quality of the information to which they’ve directed the end-user.
In essence, the search engines work on a never-ending feedback loop. When anyone begins an online search with a specific word or phrase, the search engines seek out, rank, and list the search results for them. When they click on a link from those search results, that click is then returned as additional ranking information.
So, SEO and click-throughs go hand-in-hand. Optimizing content for the search engines is the first step for any site to become a part of this perpetual feedback loop of information.
When fresh, original content is posted to a blog or website, the search engines take notice. For every click-through received as a result of this content, the search engines again take notice. This improves the site’s ranking, which leads to more clicks, which leads to better ranking, and more clicks again, and so on. This is how the search engines continually rate and rank a blog or website.
Stated simply, search engines seek content – fresh, original, relevant content.
SEO is a Strategy, Not a Simple Trick
SEO is actually a strategy of cumulative techniques which directly affect how search engines like Google find, index, and rank your blog or website. However, there are parameters to SEO which can be factored into the creation of the content that is generated that will help the search engines find you and improve the ranking of your blog or website. While it is true that following a few of these parameters can be done manually, being able to do so thoroughly and consistently can only be achieved through the ongoing use of a comprehensive, ongoing SEO Strategy.
When creating content for a blog or website which is designed to optimize that content for the purpose of SEO, these parameters must always be taken into account or they will never improve their page placement. For the sake of this piece, let’s assume that the due diligence has been performed for the site and that the keywords and keyword phrases chosen are relevant to the site.
Factors for Effective SEO
Let’s take a look at some of the parameters which need to be factored into the creation of content designed to improve SEO.
First, the title must contain the keyword and should also begin with the keyword. The title should also be at least three words in length with no more than 66 characters, or a portion of the title will be dropped from the search results.
Second, the post should be more than 300 words, with the keyword contained within the first 100 words, as well as the last 100 words. It should also be placed in the approximate middle of the post.
Third, when using the keyword in the text one should be bolded, one should be underlined, and one should be italicized.
Fourth, when structuring the content, Heading 1 should not only contain the keyword but should also begin with it, and H1 should be used only once. Each heading which follows, H2, H3, H4, etc., should also contain the target keyword, and each may be used ad infinitum.
Fifth, be sure the permalink contains the keyword and that the Meta description and Meta keywords contain the keyword, as well. Also, the Meta description, the short information blurb Google includes when placing your site on a search results page, should also begin with the keyword, and should be no longer than 160 characters.
Sixth, your content should also contain at least one internal link which contains the keyword, at least one external link which contains the keyword, and at least one image with the keyword in the “alt tag.”
Finally, be sure the content has a Keyword Density of 2% – 5%. This is, essentially, the number of times the keyword is used relative to the total word count of the page or post. Best practice is to aim for about 3%, as higher than this can actually be harmful and lower than this will be ineffective.
In total, there are at least 23 parameters to follow which are most effective when optimizing content for the purpose of SEO, to say nothing of the readability of the content, which is an entirely different subject. Except to say this…
The search engines react badly to old, repetitive or stolen content, i.e., plagiarism.
SEO is a Long-Term Investment – in Effort
Search engine optimization is a learned skill. It is not magic. It requires discipline, effort, and the willful implementation of specific techniques as part of a long-term strategy. These techniques must be employed consistently to bear fruit; or the time, effort, and money invested in SEO is wasted.