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You are probably thinking about your website right now… what’s working, what’s not…hmm…
Maybe even lost some sleep over its poor performance in serving your clients, or it not making any money. Maybe search not working (nobody is finding you), it’s not “pretty enough”, or “slow loading”…?
What’s worse, you’ve made some changes, but nothing is working or it’s just taking to darn long! How patient do you have to be?
SEO experts are telling you: “hurry up and wait – your SEO will starting working soon”. And, when researching, forums, blogs and training courses – you get conflicting messages. Frustrated, you ask: what’s the right way to do this stuff?
How can you remove the pressure of waiting for Google’s friendly smiles, web traffic and then… finally … more business opportunities?
I feel your pain. I fight this battle every day, and sometimes … it’s not pretty. And yes, it’s a battle!
Ultimately, WE (business owners) know what we are doing, and the value we provide to our marketplace. Yes, we, the small business owner make the US economy work. But, we need more help, especially when it comes to the “search world”.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an Einstein. I’m supposedly an expert, but I work at this just as much as you. Sorry to say, but there is no magic bullet. The 21 warning signs for sucky search engine optimization should help open your eyes. You are not alone.
You have to (boldly) embrace “Google Eyes Spying On You”. But, it’s not as scary as you may believe.
You need to understand how the Google search engine works. Then, let me ask you – how would you grade your own website? From a 1 – 10, are you a 2 or 3? 7 or 8?
The Google Engine is like a baby. Simple, and well intentioned. Treat it like one.
So…why does Google search work so well? It’s really simple: content & links. Simple, right?
But, simple is not easy. Take a look.
Do not make the mistake (happens more often than you think!) of blocking the search engines from you. Yes, a simple command in the robots.txt will do this. When you are copying development files to production web servers, developers forget to make that change. It’s found in the root of your website. So, for example: domainname.com/robots.txt. Make sure that the Disallow flag does not contain the ‘/’ (forward slash). Unsuck your SEO here.
A top consideration for search engines is the html TITLE tag. If you have placed keyword rich TITLE tags, and with a benefit-driven statement (if you can), you win! The rule of “keywords in copy, early & often” is useful … and, it starts with your TITLE. Unsuck your SEO here.
While many don’t consider this “SEO”… making sure the visitor gets what s/he wants is important. The big G looks at user behavior, and if you are not appropriately serving the visitor with simple navigation, call to action and providing the information they are looking for, you lose. Part of this game will be user-centered design.
Marketing online (and anywhere else for that matter) is PSYCHOLOGY. Human communication on steroids. Do you understand the user searching for you? Or, asked in a different way: are you matching your message to the market, and with the right media? Make sure you do.
In the popular movie, Leonardo DiCaprio is a thief, given a chance at redemption, and his toughest job to date. But, every new change or action seems to push him further away from his goal.
But, sticking to his project assignment, his journey provides him with the opportunity to:
You may feel the same… every new turn provides less valuable information. And, I’m talking about being a good guy here. Thieving or scamming is reserved for Black Hatters. While everybody (white hat or black hat) has the opportunity to win in search, only great relationships and networking, both offline and online will change your world — for the better. Don’t be a geek.
Is your content, layout and design dated? And, for search..specifically… how often do you publish? How do you know when & if Google is visiting and storing your valuable information? While not a ranking signal per se, it’s a big one for users, and traffic tends to follow. How would you like to visit your own site, and see old data. It’s like giving them a week old newspaper. Content & marketing can be your friend.
We know Google is watching bounce-rates, click-through-rates and repeat visits. Do you know, for each page – what your metrics are? What are the most important?
How many times have you built out a new website or blog post, toiled for hours (weeks?) – only to have nothing to show for it? There is a reason, you know. Let’s get social, and offer useful, interesting conversation.
In the TV show CSI – many of the critical & revealing scenes are from the labs. They are analyzing data, and at a microscopic level. An average webmaster doesn’t have to do it for SEO, but you must test, test, test. For example, adding new content and optimizing it with keywords (from text to rich media). Do you know how well it works by just checking rankings? I think not.
PageRank is out. Consider that to be a marketing play only. I remember when I saw the green pixie dust moving from a 3 to 4, to a 5 to 6. How exciting! Turns out, it doesn’t matter. (I once had a client who said he’d hire me if I could get him from a 2 to a 4 PR. I told them no). Is PageRank dead?
Adding text to a page filled with keywords, matching the background color of your page is lame, and it doesn’t work. In fact, it can and will work against you. Don’t do it. Value text/content for what it is: communication to/with your users first, then search engines.
When you search in Twitter, you’ll see references to Charlie Sheen for that word. Try it in Google, and Sheen rocks again. And, outside of a Jack Welch book, a dictionary and a movie reference from 1969, he “owns” that word in search. The power of a celebrity, social media and people attracted to them, can shuffle results very quickly. And, in your favor. Not having a well defined social media campaign for your business means you are #notwinning (don’t think I want to own that word).
Search engines need your output. Then, create input (social), and become a #realwinner with words.
True. Not even Google. You are the SCIC. Believe it, know it. Test it. Verify it. And, consider local SEO kick-ass tactics to get closer.
Links pointing back (external links) to your web pages are key to long term success. However, with the recent Panda updates and the daily tweaks in Google, consider smarter link vetting and optimization of those. Getting a high link count for sake of numbers is not as important as the quality of the links. The game has changed.
A great way for you to get educated fast about what is working, is to watch what others are doing. For example, if you are an e-commerce webmaster, review Amazon.com, eBay.com, Shopping.com. Not just for meta TITLEs, meta DESCRIPTIONs use, but how the websites operate, what content is offered, from unique and seasonal offers, navigation and checkout. Make sure you are converting & profitable.
Everything that is near and dear to you has a name. So be it with search/SEO. For example, an image, a video, an audio file, a web page… they are named for what they represent. When you use keywords that are relevant and targeted, it can/will increase click through rates and search engines will better know how/where to classify them.
There is NO REASON for you not to have a video for your business. Get moving, and create 2-3 videos that explain what you do. A simple FAQ format, or a ‘side-view’ interview is fine. Ask somebody to interview you, and answer the questions. Make it simple, and less ‘sales-pitch’ oriented is good. If YOU are the brand, try to make it personable, fun, interesting and useful. YouTube is owned by Google, and has the highest pageviews and activity for Videos online. You can share these within social networks as well. How to make a YouTube video today.
While syndication (distribution) of your content is ok, duplicating content on your own website is not. We call this the “slow ranking death”. CMS (content management systems) often will create copies of web pages each time they are edited, for example. You may not know it’s happening, until you see pages dropping. Duplicate sets or URLs – how to resolve.
Download the free SEO guide and ask this: does it make sense? What appears self-serving?
You too. Take my challenge below. Think about it. Take note of your own mindset on this. And, don’t be afraid…
Yup, you know it: the fast-paced game of Google, social, search and SEO is constant.
And, every day Google fights millions of web pages trying to ‘illegally’ enter into their databases (yes, it’s spam).
However, you are on the good side, but feel like running on a treadmill that not only gets you to work out, sweat and burn calories (good), but it doesn’t let you stop (bad). The power is always on, and with you connected by the hip.
Finding the time and energy to jump on in the first place… that’ s one thing, but to keep up — is seemingly an “other-worldly” task. It may only be for the few warriors in us who want to make a change for ourselves, our families and, perhaps, the world.
But, ultimately, a warrior is what you have to become.
Combine this attitude and way of living with the smarts of a wizard (the art & science of it), and power of your “outer” and “inner” game.
Stay the course, don’t give up, and continue your search marketing education.
Jon Rognerud is the #1 online marketing expert for Entrepreneurs. His best-selling SEO book, "The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization" from Entrepreneur Press/McGraw-Hill is in bookstores now. Act fast, and get a free gift here. Connect with Jon on Google+
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