Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has been the Flash intro of the last few years. Everyone wants to be number one – and they’re willing to go to great lengths to get there. The market has followed, with “SEO Coaches” charging ridiculous fees to increase page ranking. These so-called experts are playing a game of cat and mouse – they find a way to exploit the system, the search engines notice and change their programming, rinse and repeat.
There is undoubtedly value in a higher page rank – they say the number one result for a particular keyword sees around 50% of clicks. That’s a lot of hits. The problem though, is that site owners are neglecting their content. What we’re starting to see are highly-ranked sites that are not only useless but terribly designed. What good are 1000 hits per day if people take one look and hit the back button? Get your site in order before you spend one minute on SEO.
Once you do decide to focus on it, please don’t pay anyone to do it. Their methods are questionable, their effectiveness suspect, and if you do see results, they’re very likely temporary. There are ways to increase your site ranking yourself, and they’re not hard to do.
A large factor in page ranking is the number of backlinks you have, or links into your site. A bad way to get these is to spam or pay some sort of link exchange service. A good way? Help people. Join a forum on something related to your business and participate with meaningful comments. Make sure your signature contains your URL – you now have a valid backlink on a page directly related to your content. Same goes for blogs and comments. Again, be useful. Don’t just say something like “Great post!”
Search engines love updated content. Everyone with a website should seriously consider creating a blog section and posting at least once a week. Be sure to keep the blog posts related to your site’s content, and try to spark conversations through the comments.
It’s important your site is included in all major directories – Bing, Yahoo, Google, and Ask.com are all big ones. There are many others, of course, some which may be directly related to your field. For example, my company is listed on sites with directories of web designers. Here’s a tip – one of the most highly esteemed directories is called DMOZ. It’s extremely selective, and hard to get in – all submissions are hand screened. If you do manage to get in there, it’d be a great bump in page
The Court Jester? Seriously?
OK, so it was a stretch – it worked for a title. SEO is important, but the point I was trying to get across was that it should be secondary. Every single time I speak to a client for the first time, they bring up SEO – before we even talk about a platform or color scheme or social media. Build a solid site with current, fresh, and relevant content – the hits and page rank will follow in time.
About the author: Michael Giaimo is owner of Inspira Web Design, serving New Jersey for over ten years.