Search Engine Optimization
What is On-site SEO?
On-site SEO simply means aligning your website's content and outbound signals with a desired keyword or phrase to afford yourself the opportunity to be organically discovered more often by more people who are searching for that keyword or phrase on search engines.
SEO's all about improving your odds and giving your website a chance to succeed. Google gets over 4-billion searches every day, so you might as well try to show up for some of the ones related to what you do, right?
Why does SEO matter?
Websites that rank on page 1 of search results get more visitors. More visitors means more opportunities to convert more people in to customers and do more business through your website.
Does on-site SEO work?
Yes and no.
No because there's no guarantee or expectation that it is going to generate results or land you on the first page of Google's search results just because you've done it.
Yes because you can't show up in search results for words that aren't on your web page. In that sense, it's kind of like the Maine State Lottery — you can't win if you don't play the game.
Do You Need Optimization?
Probably, but maybe not...
I've got mixed feelings on the relative importance of SEO for small town local businesses. It's easier to be the high-ranking official search result when you're the only game in town, but it's worth it to consider what your competition looks like, what type of location you're in, and who your bread and butter customers are to decide if it's for you.
Search Engine OptimizationThe magical dark art of attracting new customers through organic discovery.
If you're interested in optimizing some (or all) of your website for greater odds at search engine discovery then here's what I can do for you:
- Identify 1 high-value keyword or longtail phrase to be the focus of a single web page.
- Identify up to 3 supporting terms (per page).
- Align page title and meta tags to the chosen keyword or phrase.
- Incorporate keyword(s) into headings.
- Add keywords to image alt and title tags.
- Properly size images on page (if needed).
- Salt & pepper keyword and related terms throughout the page content.
- Create internal links to and from another page on your website that's related to the content.
Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about.
The other half of the SEO puzzle is external SEO. External SEO includes building links to your website from outside sources — like other websites, digital documents, and even from printed publications. However, search engine algorithms don't only care about the total number of links, but also the general quality of those links, the way in which those links reference your website, and the relativity of the words surrounding those links (and I'm sure there's some other highly-technical factors being considered, too). Metaphorically, when you're playing in the sandbox [of search results] it's best to play with the popular well-to-do crowd and not the low-browed trouble makers.
Objectively, the point is to create inbound bridges for people to discover your website on their own without having to pay for expensive advertisements. On its own your website is an island, so people need a way to reach it. In theory, the more people who visit your website the better your website will appear to search algorithms and the more it will be shared and prioritized as a particularly good result to display in search engine results pages, therefore, creating an even larger viral flow of organic visitors streaming to your doorstep. In a sense, the results of a well-executed SEO strategy are self-perpetuating once you've got the ball rolling.
If everything else is in place the final trick to making SEO stick is delivering on people's expectations. As Ben Franklin put it, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about." You can have all the inbound links and keywords in the world, but if the web page and content you're sending people to isn't what they're expecting to find, doesn't interest them, or doesn't solve their problem then your website isn't going to be sending good signals back to the search engines and they're not going to continue showing your site as a prominent result to people's searches.
All in all, my opinion is that SEO is unpredictable and risky. It can take a really long time to gain traction. It's easy to get discouraged and assume it's not working or that you're wasting valuable time, effort, and money. But, occasionally it works perfectly and pays off. When you believe in search engine marketing then SEO is worth paying for. And, when you don't then it probably smells like snake oil. The proof is always in the pudding, but you can't stop until you're winning or else you decidedly have not climbed the proverbial mountain.