In 1998 when I started this business, SEO was my goal. I wanted to learn all about how to make sites rank well in search results, and then focus on that discipline. As it has turned out, SEO is still the most important thing I do; but the discipline is now much broader, and needs to be dealt with as part of a more general campaign of making a site an effective marketing vehicle. Which is why the company is now called Web Marketing Advantage!
In general, the evolution of SEO has been from a series of tricks to fool search engines about the content of a site, into working with search engines to provide what search engines want to see, in a form so that they will recognize that what they want is actually on the site. Myths remain about SEO, that are commonly the residue of the old “tricks” approach. Today, there aren’t single tricks as much as there are a lot of techniques to help search engines recognize what’s actually on the site.
Today, my form of “evolved SEO” could include advice about site design; I would recommend that you have your site built with WordPress because there are so many good tools to promote a WordPress site; I’ll recommend that you start a blog and help you promote the blog. So today’s SEO isn’t just tricking the search engines any more.
Like all of my discussions about Web marketing, I talk about Google as though it’s the only one that matters. In a recent survey, Google had 67 percent of the search market in the US, and above 90 percent in Europe. For mobile search, Google’s share is even higher, at 83%. You could work just for share of Google traffic because of its market dominance; but in addition, because of its market dominance, other search engines tend to follow Google’s lead, so they mostly work the way Google does. For both reasons, then, if you rank well in Google search results you’ll likely rank well in most other search engines’ results as well.
Here are some popular myths:
Content is King
Bill Gates originally said that content is king, back in 1996. He expected that the rise of the Internet and social networks would provide great opportunities to people and institutions who provided valuable content. Indeed, we see this happening today, where Web site content is an important business asset.
However, content alone isn’t king. If your site has a lot of great content, and Google doesn’t find it, then it won’t help your ranking in search results. The Googlebot that scans your site is just a computer program, and it has a lot of sites to scan, so it can’t do a lot when it’s scanning your site. It’s going to react to some fairly simple cues to content, and it’s important to provide those cues. And to avoid warning signals that the Googlebot might use to identify attempts to fool it.
This, of course, is good news for people who do SEO, because it provides a reason for them to be employed. By understanding how Google (and its ilk) consider your site, they (and I!) can ensure that the valuable content you provide will give you the search engine results you deserve. And draws customers as it should.
Keyword Optimization is the Focus of SEO
We used to work to find out the most important keyword or two in a business area, and then go all out to rank well for that keyword. Google understood just individual words, so we had to deal with them that way too. We’d put an important word in the first paragraph, in a few other paragraphs, and again in the last paragraph.
Today, Google understands more than single words. Using techniques like latent semantic indexing, it has learned about synonyms that tie together in a concept. What this lets you do is now is to write for readers and less for search engines, seeking to use common synonyms instead of slavishly repeating one keyword throughout a page that you want to rank well.
Images and Videos Have No Impact on SEO
Of course, you want videos and images on your site because it provides your visitors a better experience, so they’re more likely to do business with you.
However, as you provide that better experience, you reduce the bounce rate (that is, the portion of visitors who see only one page, then leave) and increase the time spent on each page. Both of these are factors that Google uses in search engine rankings. This means that you make your site more effective and you improve your search engine results with the same measures.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to put in all the tags that images like to have–it’s a great opportunity to promote your favorite keywords. Google pays attention to tags on videos and images.
Meta Descriptions are Important for Search Results Position
Google has told us that they don’t use meta descriptions in their ranking search results–so ignore advice to use specific keywords in your meta description tags. Does this mean that you don’t need to provide a meta description with every page? No, it doesn’t.
Search engines often (although, maddeningly, not always) use the meta description as the summary of the page that they provide in their search results. Because you know the search engne won’t use the meta description keyword content in your ranking in results, now you are free to write an interesting description that will prompt a searcher who sees it to click your listing and come to your site. You don’t have to worry about using any particular words.
Remember that search engines just hate duplicate content. They want to present their customers, the searchers who use their search engine, list of sites that have different content. If you have description meta tags that duplicate each other, this is a cue to search engines that there isn’t much differentiation in the content on each page. Be sure that each page on your site has a unique meta description tag.