Just the other day a client who does not see the value in SEO called and said
“Hey, I didn’t do anything to my website for the last year, I didn’t touch it, and now I am not on page 2 anymore, there is something wrong”.
My reply being – “The only thing wrong here is your understanding and expectation of SEO. If you don’t pay any attention to SEO and therefore don’t update your site, Google has lost interest in you.”
Needless to say I don’t think I got through to him, so I asked him contact Google for an explanation as to why his ranking has dropped.
For the purpose of clarification, I believe ‘Search Experience Optimization’ is much better phrase than ‘Search Engine Experience’. SEO, after all should be about the end user experience, and not about search engines.
Now that we have that cleared, the purpose of SEO is becoming more relevant to businesses who want to stay ahead of their competitors. Apart form this particular client, more people are beginning to realize the relationship between Google Search and SEO and what it means to their website ranking. Your competitors are already doing this!
It can be pretty hard to make a name for yourself on the internet as there are well over 260 million websites now. If you are selling products or services that are highly competitive you will have a significant challenge to make your brand stand out.
1000 Lemmings can’t be wrong! No matter what you say about search engines or Google, the fact is that Google is “the” search engine that almost all internet users are using. Sure there is Bing and others but its fair to say that it is the only one that matters for the moment, while it maintains a monopoly on the market.
This means you have to play by their rules if you want your content to rank high in their result pages. Whether you like that or not, Google is here to stay just like taxes and death.
People trust Google and they will judge the credibility of your organisation based on Google’s ranking of your website.
Organic SEO or PPC/Adwords
Organic SEO listings are free. Google does not impose restrictions on the number of sites or pages you want them to index. You don’t need to Pay-Per-Click or allocate a budget for advertising to get people to find you.
One of the main benefits of organic SEO is that it is a level playing field. Your competitors cannot pay Google to rank your listing lower, but you will rank lower, are doing SEO ranking higher. As long as you put in the time and effort you can expect your website to get consistent traffic and rank well.
Of course the amount of time and effort you will need to allocate will depend on your knowledge and capability. There is a vast amount of resources to help you, some of which you can find below.
There are also many reporting tools such as Google Analytics to measure and benchmark your site’s performance and indicate areas that could be improved.
Better ROI than PPC
The PPC (Pay-Per-Click) model typically yields a 2% conversion rate. Meaning, 2% of visitors will proceed to the “call to action”. The expected results for Organic SEO is typically 4%. This higher conversion rate makes Organic SEO a great form of marketing. The main reason here is that people who came to your site via Google were searching for keywords or tags in your website content. These people are actually looking for your product or service and not from Ads shoved in their face.
Where to start
Okay, so the first place to start is to perform an assessment or an audit of your site and its contents. Be prepared as it can be intimidating, time-consuming, and chaotic.
I am a big fan of Annie Cushing from annielytics.com. Annie maintains an audit checklist in Google Docs with roughly 300 checkpoints (and growing). You can download the checklist from bit.ly/audit-checklist.
It gives you guidance, tools and recommendations on auditing pertaining to:
- On Page SEO
- Semantic Markup
- Business Strategy
- Social Media
Hundreds of Tools For Marketers
There are hundreds of tools available out there for developers and marketers. Annie maintains a spreadsheet in Google Docs with hundreds of tools that marketers can use. To make tools easier to find/use, they are broken down by task instead of the tools themselves, covering 14 categories:
- SEO Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Social Media
- Structured Markup
- Data Visualization Tools
- Data Sources
- Infographic Submission Sites
- Misc Efficiency Tools
Stay Informed Of Google Algorithm Updates
One thing that can be guaranteed is change and Google are always changing the rules. If you don’t keep up with the changes and apply them to your sites you will be left behind and you will almost certainly be ranked lower.
So whats your excuse?
Maybe you just don’t have the time, you are too busy running your own business, or your time is better served elsewhere. Sometimes it is just better to leave this work to SEO professionals. After all they do this for a living. But be warned as it is an open market and you will find people claiming to be SEO experts ranging from $10/hour to $200/hour.
Normally I would advise on making sure you choose wisely as you will get what you pay for. While this is true, keep in mind that there are many SEO companies that charge exorbitant rates but fail to deliver.