These days, most business owners know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. But, they don’t necessarily understand what is required for good SEO.
I like to explain SEO this way: There are many factors that the search engines use to rank a website. There are two that can be influenced. Those are the two that I focus on.
First, the search engines need to understand your business. There are things that an SEO specialist like me can do to help the search engines understand which search phrases are relevant for your site. This involves making sure that the content of your site, the way that pages link together, and the behind-the-scenes code all present a unified message about your business. I call this “Foundational SEO.”
Second, if your site is going to appear on page 1, it is going to have to qualify as one of the 10 most “authoritative” sites in results for a particular search phrase. Authority is determined on the basis of a number of factors, but the most important is the number of incoming links and citations that your website gets from other websites. In simple terms, search engines have decided that if another website is willing to send visitors to your website through a link, that is like a recommendation from that site. So, the more incoming links you have, the more authoritative your website is.
The amount of work I do for clients on building authority for their website is determined by the amount of online competition that they face. But, no matter how much (or how little) competition a business faces, they all need Foundational SEO.
Let me give you an example of what can happen with a site that was built without Foundational SEO: www.Cognis.com.
Cognis is a specialty chemicals company. A big multi-national company owned by BASF. They appear on Google’s page one for searches for “Cognis” and for “there for our customers.” (The latter is NOT a popular search phrase, obviously, and is not likely to bring them business.) But the site is invisible for searches for “specialty chemicals,” or for company product lines like “dietary supplements,” “industrial coatings,” and “silicates.”
The site does not display any sign of Foundational SEO, so search engines like Google do not readily know what the site is about. Or which searches this website is relevant for. A source I regularly use reports that Cognis.com has more than 12,500 incoming links. So it has plenty of authority. But, the site has not been created in a way that it can be displayed for appropriate searches from potential customers.
If your business is considering creating a new website, don’t move forward without involving an SEO specialist like me. For a very reasonable cost, you will get:
• Assistance in organizing your site so that you can use it to address the most popular searches for information from potential customers.
• All of the text for your site. (You don’t need to hire a professional copywriter or find time to write copy yourself.)
• Advice on creating offers and calls to action on your site that tie-in with popular search phrases. (Remember, you also have to give human visitors what they are looking for.)
Often small businesses want to create a new website and then optimize it for the search engines later. The reality is that doing that nearly always doubles the cost of the optimization—and sometimes decreases its effectiveness, too. The cost is doubled because so much of what is done to create the site in the first place is re-done in the optimization process. And, the effectiveness of the optimization can be affected if the site’s navigational structure does not accommodate the best possible keyword phrase targets.
So, my tip of the year for 2011 is this: If you know you need a new website, contact me. Let me build Foundational SEO into your site while it is being created. I also can put you in touch with excellent web designers, web developers, branding experts, etc. if you do not already have people that you trust. It is the best investment in marketing you can make for your business’s future success.