Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with some pretty smart people. Amazing developers, genius business strategists, and savvy marketers. They skillset’s and expertise were unquestionable. Yet I would still occasionally run into someone who would hear the term ‘SEO’ and automatically write it off as a scam or irrelevant and unnecessary.
Over the past few years, this opinion has lessened somewhat as people started to see first hand the benefits (and often profits) of investing in optimising their web content to help rank better in search engines.
‘All well and good, but what IS SEO?’
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It is the process of optimising content to best rank for targeted terms in search engines, most commonly Google, Bing & Yahoo.
Effective SEO requires a lot of investment and minor, seemingly irrelevant additions and alterations that culminate into influencing the signals that make your website be perceived as authoritative for particular search terms.
To put it in another context; it’s like buying a stock-standard car. There are other cars out there that are faster, louder, more fuel economical or sexier. In order for your car to be considered one of the better one, you need to invest in minor changes and additions. Changes that may be huge – like an entire new paint job, or minor and unassuming such as using authentic vintage screws that hold the engine in place.
Check out a great summary of SEO from SearchEngineLand.com
Understanding SEO a little bit more
To understand fully what you need to do to in order for your content to rank better, you need to have an understanding of search engines. Search engines are a tricky beast and the algorithms that make them work are one of the most closely guarded secrets in Internet tech.
The formula that dictates which websites should out rank others is one of the key elements as to why Google is one of the most profitable companies in the world. It’s like a much nerdier version of KFC’s seven secret herbs and spices.
Only the super nerds at Google know exactly how Google search works, but for the rest of us mere mortals, we rely on years of cumulative research, experiments and observations to determine the best ways to optimize for search.
Key factors for influencing effective SEO
The list is as long as it is complicated, but some of the key factors include links (off page and on page), site speed, domain age, meta data, social sharing, keyword rich content, author authority, URL structure, content freshness, technical code signals, crawlability and many more.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of course, but if you take into account the above signals when creating or maintaining a site then you’re off to a good start to having a search engine friendly web presence.
This post could go on for a lot longer and still only be skimming the surface of what effective SEO is. But if there were three bits of advice for I would offer to those new to SEO, it would be:
- Make sure your site, and its content, is made for users and not search bots. Provide quality content. Always!
- Seek advice from an SEO consultant as early in the website build process as possible.
- Don’t resort to black-hat tactics when doing SEO. Quick wins can often be more harmful than beneficial.
Learn more about SEO and SEO tactics here:
SEOMoz Beginners Guide to SEO
The Complete Link building strategy guide from Point Blank SEO
Google’s guide to How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web
Dealing with the increasing complexity of SEO
Inbound.org – a great aggregate site about inbound marketing
Black hat, white hat and grey hat SEO