By: Brendan Fitzpatrick
The intention of this article is to give the reader a sense of what is required in order to be successful with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To start, I will define SEO in layman’s terms – SEO is the process of coding your web site to a level that the Search engines or web crawlers can understand. What does this really mean? Read on…
The gist of this article is to let you know that SEO is not a one time thing that you can pay for and walk away from. Nowadays with Social Media the rules and guidelines of search engines are changing nearly on a daily basis. SEO is constant work, and it is hard. The top ‘performers’ in SEO live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of their web site offerings. If you’re not willing to live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of your choice then forget about being a leading web site in search engines in the industry of your choice.
I’ll split this conversation into 2 topics – the first being best practices when it comes to ‘coding’ your site, the somewhat static piece of the equation. The second being the social aspect of SEO or the dynamic piece of the equation. I will not deep dive into either area, again this article is to point you in the right direction.
As far as the static piece of the equation goes, good coding practices – you (or your web site designer) really need to follow the basics. Make sure that you have your META-TAGS configured properly and customized appropriately to the industry that you are in. Follow the basice STRICTLY. YOU really have you spend time on this, 99.99% of the time your designer is useless when it comes generating content (YES, your META-TAGS are content), they can code the information but YOU must tell them what to include. If you are unfamiliar with META-TAGS then you need to read up on them and make sure that they are accurate to your area of interest. Even more important, you MUST make sure that your content is relevant! If you are selling shoes, then you should have content on why your shoes are better than others, how to care for them, describe the various shoe types for different applications (ie. snow, running, walking, hiking etc.), if you do not – then your competitors will likely surpass your site by miles! The more content that you have with the highest relevance to educate your visitors will land you higher in the search engines. For the most part, you should spend ALOT of time on this area, but once done you should not have to spend much time unless your content changes frequently. Don’t forget about Description length, alt tags etc.
For the dynamic part of SEO – this is huge. More than ever, search engines are relying on the social existence of a web site, it’s authority (how many articles are published) and how many followers one has. To be at the top of the game you have to eat, live and breath the subject matter of your site. It’s not enough to simply post text on your social network accounts, you need to start thinking about enticing graphics that stand out above other sites. They say pinterest is the number one threat to Google in the future when it comes to searching for ideas (what’s that saying.. ‘a picture is worth 1,000 words?). When you perform a google image search, think of how many image results it returns and which ones you look at. If you’re like me, you scroll through dozens of images at a time and you stop on those that you catch in the corner of your eye. I’m starting to use Pinterst more than Google and that says alot! Relevant images are key!
You can have 10,000 postings on a ‘company facebook page’, or 20,000 tweets on twitter or 50 articles published on Google+ but if you have no followers then your social existence will be close to zero! You MUST publish content that is relevant that people will read and want to follow and share! Not every social network works the same way, people check facebook at certain times of the day, linked in at during other hours, google+ and twitter during other hours. You need to know when to publish content to which networks if you want to maximize your reader shares. This is where SEO has evolved and now requires a constant presence if you want your site to be at the top.
The most successful sites have great static SEO web sites and a great dynamic presence, think of your competitors are machines who constantly pump out articles with great images, tweets and stories and if you take a few hours off (much less days) then you will simply start falling behind in your search engine rankings.
As a side note, there is something to be said about niches, by definition you won’t have as much competition BUT you have to LOVE that niche and if you do then you will have higher potential then a non-niche subject or product.
The most important note, if you’re like me – a one man shop, you can’t do it alone but there are resources out there that you can take advantage of.. If you haven’t heard of these sites then you need to seriously look at them:
fiverr.com – cheap services, find cheap provides of graphic solutions, content writers and more
elance.com – relatively cheap services but VERY professional services
I suggest you build a network of providers and stick with the best that you can find. Don’t forget, these sites are ‘cheap’, most providers are looking for connections so they are willing to do some initial work at a cheap rate. If you like their services then you should pay them more – or what you feel they are worth or their is a good chance they won’t stick around for long.
*feel free to contact me with any questions or comments