I knew I was in trouble when a conversation with a prospective client started out like this; “I’ve been paying my SEO guy a hundred dollars a month to be certain that I’ll show up at the top of Google, but whatever he was doing isn’t working anymore and I’m trying to figure out why.”
In my mind this sums up everything that has been wrong with the way many people have approached SEO over the past several years.
The story she told me is sadly a familiar one. She’d been working with an “SEO” guy who created some landing pages that had “lots of keywords” and he’d been “submitting her website to different places” so she would get found. Her website fell off of the map in June of this year, she’s been unable to recover the traffic, and her business is suffering. Now she’s looking for a new SEO person to help her be certain her site will get found on Google.
The problem is that certainty and SEO don’t belong in the same sentence and especially not for $100 a month. There isn’t one single silver bullet and SEO should be implemented as part of an overall inbound marketing strategy and not thought of as a search engine algorithm chasing activity. There are no guarantees, there’s no such thing as being #1 in search, and getting found on Google all comes back to providing visitors with a great experience.
I’m not going to speculate about which tactics the “SEO guy” used, but it’s not a stretch to say that if he had focused on the user experience and the quality of the content instead of keywords and algorithms there would have been a different outcome and her website traffic wouldn’t have disappeared.
I learned about search engine optimization through the Search Engine Academy long before becoming a trainer and consultant. One of the things that impressed me was that the workshop curriculum focused on doing the right things for the visitors first and thinking about what’s important to search engines second. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Michael Marshall explain that the job of a search engine is to provide relevant results to the searcher and the job of an SEO professional is to help businesses optimize websites to provide the best content and experience possible.
Some of the tactical aspects of SEO have changed in the past few years, but the lessons and approach made sense then and it still makes sense today.
7 Tips for SEO Success
- Care about your visitors – be genuine, provide content that adds value and answers questions.
- Create share-able content – it’s not about building links, it’s about creating content that people want to share
- Build relationships not links – get to know people and let them get to know you
- Provide a quality experience – don’t skimp on your website design and think about SEO before you build or re-design
- Be generous – give away great stuff for free and promote other people’s great content as well
- Don’t hide from search engines – stay away from using Flash or Ajax for important content and be sure to submit your sitemaps to the search engines
- Share your content – make the most of social networks to distribute your content and reach a wider audience
It’s true that SEO and certainty don’t belong in the same sentence, but it’s also true that if you focus on being the result that Google wants t to rank and not on chasing the latest algorithm update there’s every reason to believe that your website will be found by the right people at the right time.
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