SEO(search engine optimization) is one of the most mis-understood buzzwords used by business owners and marketing people today. Clients often say to us, “I want to be on the first page of the search engines. We need SEO.”. It’s like a magic button that we press that automatically launches the client into search engine nirvana. There is a lot to SEO that most people don’t understand. I’d like to clarify some of the SEO confusion to help you understand what it takes to rank high on search engines.

Building a good SEO foundation

While in college I volunteered my Summers to help repair homes in the Appalachian mountains. Most of the repairs we did on these homes were due to a bad foundation. Ususally, these houses were built on old tree stumps. After awhile the foundation would crumbly under the weight of the house. Before we could fix anything, we’d have to replace the foundation.

To build a site that performs well in search results, it’s important to build a good foundation. These means building the site so that search engines have no problems indexing the content on the site. This also means that the site is also easily browsed by your visitors.

Choose your keywords wisely

When our clients tell us that they want to be on the first page of the search engines, we ask them “With with keywords?”. Most of our clients haven’t considered the keywords that a user will use to try to find your site.

For instance; we’d love to rank on the first page for “web designer” or even better just “web”. But considering that Google says there are 3,770,000,000 sites that mention the word “web” it would be a very difficult to rank high considering the amount of competition. It would be more realistic to rank high with “web designer” but still very difficult since there are 27,000,000 results in Google. So we are targeting “chicago web design” which has 3,750,000 results in Google. This is still a very difficult task, but is a realistic goal.

So when determining the keywords you’d like to target ask yourself the following questions;

  • Are the keyword combinations what someone looking for my products and services use to find my site?
  • Are the keyword combinations specific enough to reduce the amount of search engine competition? Is the goal realistic?

After you determine our keywords, make sure you include the keyword combinations into your website content and other key areas of your site.

Building trust

Search engines are in the business of selling advertising. They do this by attracting an audience. The audience visits the search engine to find relevant sites based on the keywords they enter into the search box. Search engines want to make sure they return quality results and go to great lengths to make sure thay do. This means they want to know that your site can be trusted to satisfy their audiences search desires. Here are a few things search engines look at to build trust.

To build trust your website must….

  • have lots of other websites linking to your site – If your site is popular with other sites on the web, then the search engines will see your site as an authority. However, becareful not all links are good links.
  • listed in important web site directories – Directories verify that your site is what you say you are.
  • have longevity – a site that has been on the web for 10 years will have a better chance of ranking higher than a site that is only a year or two old.
  • adhere to the search engines rules – If you trying to trick the search engine to rank higher than you deserve, then you will rank lower than you deserve. The search engines hire smart people to make sure they are not tricked. Are you smarter?

Good SEO takes time

Five years ago I moved from a house that had three huge ugly trees in the back yard. They were trees that grow very quickly, but are not strong enough to endure severe weather. I was afraid one of these trees would fall on our house. When I moved to our new house, I choose trees that grew slowly but strong.

Very often after we launch a new website or a redesign, I receive the phone call from the client a week or two later, “Why is my site not on the first page?”. Some SEO companies will be able to get a site ranked high a short period of time using “black hat” methods. However, that could have drastic consequences on the long term success of the sites search engine rankings. Good SEO takes time. It takes time to build good content. It takes time to establish good backlinks. It takes time to build trust with the search engines. Be patient. Your prudent attention to SEO will pay off.

What now?

This is just a 20,000 foot view of SEO. There are a lot of details I didn’t cover. If you have questions or need advice, please give us a call 630-563-5240 or contact us.