Anybody with any online ambitions wants to get a top ranking on Google. Why? Well, how about free targeted traffic coming directly to your site’s money pages – that’s a pretty good reason in my opinion.
SEO, the process needed to achieve these rankings, isn’t without its controversies though. There are those who get it and there are those who certainly do not. It would be fair to say that SEO has had its fair share of critics; they often take the cynical view that a fool and his money are soon parted, with SEO on hand to drain businesses cash. What a nonsense.
The critics aren’t entirely wrong though, at least about one thing, it is just a series of best practices. It is open to all, it is entirely free, the only drawback that most soon discover is that it isn’t exactly quick to educate yourself on all the finer points. The knowledge is out there, found in dozens of books, blogs and expert websites; that is until the search engines decide to change their algorithms again and the rules change. Your only real decision is as to whether you get an experienced hired hand to do the optimisation or choose to do it yourself.
As a practice, SEO doesn’t deserve much of the criticism it receives. You just can’t ignore SEO if you have any ambitions of topping Google. Without SEO you will not get to number one on Google. Still cynical? This might convince you:
1) Content – Essential in every regard, not least for your SEO efforts. Whether you like it or not, putting text on your pages is adding strength and relevance in the eyes of search engines. Along with links, content forms one of the two main aspects of SEO, which means that the two are inextricably linked.
2) Site Links – Without these you’d have no strength and very few paths into the site, essential SEO. Links might not be the first thing you’d think of when it comes to developing a site; however, with this in mind, links are far from being unimportant.
Google’s trust in your site’s authority will be largely judged on the quality and variety of links that you can secure. By neglecting your link profile you will be restricting the entrance points to your site and losing all that authority with Google; all of which will do nothing to promote your rankings.
3) Meta, Internal Link Structure and Page Load Time
Page load time became a ranking factor just a few months back on Google. Okay, so it joins a reasonably strong line-up of over 200 other ranking factors, but it can still have a bearing on where you end up; ergo site speed is now a part of SEO. But more than that, it is about visitor satisfaction. Just like with content, you want to be able to make sure that visitors are engaged and don’t have an excuse to leave (like waiting 12 seconds for a page to load).
Don’t just rely on rankings, really earn that click with a Meta description that immediate catches the searcher’s attention. The title too is vital as it provides an opportunity to anchor the main headline for a page, including those all-important keywords whilst also giving visitors a reference point at the top of their browser. Many people would question just how much impact Meta has on the overall ranking of a site, but even just a slight benefit is well worth chasing.
Your internal linking structure is something that should have been developed by your web developer. It is the road structure that interlinks all pages on a site and ensures that visitors and search engines are able to get from A to B in the fastest, most logical fashion. Keywords embedded within anchor text can help you to really bring your site to life and help the search engine spiders to immediately identify what each page is optimised for; the ideal SEO solution to internal site architecture.
Anti-SEO types will struggle to ensure that their site includes no optimised assets but remains usable. Of course you could still have some form of nightmarish flash filled website if you were to renounce SEO; there would always be opportunities to get traffic to such a site, but I can assure you that none of it would be from Google.
Don’t just discount SEO because of some things you’ve heard. Google has the ability to achieve fantastic levels of targeted traffic for any site, unsurpassed by any other medium; therefore you should be looking to conquer it, not fight it .