Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is all the rage. It’s all about getting YOUR page on the front page of Google, Bing, Yahoo and other popular search engines so potential customers can find you first and fast. But how do you go about ensuring that your site is listed first among your competitors’?
First and foremost, it’s important to have a lot of links on your site – and to be linked to from other sites. But remember, not all links are created equal. Links to and from sites that are already highly ranked are more valuable than links to and from low-ranking sites; links to and from content-rich sites are more valuable than those to and from static or content-light sites.
Second is the use of keywords or search terms on your site. Do your research and figure out what terms, phrases and words your customers are most likely to enter into a search engine to find sites like yours, then incorporate those terms into your copy. The more, the better. Remember though, content is king, and you don’t want to just throw in keywords randomly. Sites like Google have gotten pretty good at figuring out that trick and look for search terms in natural language use.
Third is time. Sites that stick around over time, drawing large amounts of traffic and gaining regular backlinks appear more trustworthy than brand-new sites with few brand-new links. In Google’s eyes, links into a site convey trust in that site, but as I said, not all links are equally valuable. Google’s ranking algorithm looks at the link profile of a site as a whole, considering not only the number of links, but also their quality and age. So the longer your site exists, and the longer you have trusted links and backlinks, the higher your ranking.
Finally, create partnerships with related sites that complement your own content and link back to them. This will help increase your number of backlinks and also add additional value for your customers by giving them more reasons to visit your site – plus you can get additional visitors from your partners’ sites.
But without a doubt, content is king. It’s where your search terms live, and ultimately, it’s what decides whether or not your customers will stick around (and whether or not they will order from you). Refreshing your content on a regular basis and expanding your site will increase the number and breadth of search terms on your site and keep your customers coming back for more. Adding interesting content – articles, white papers, video, podcasts, images and other rich media – is what drives up impressions and time on site, key metrics you’ll want to use to measure how well your site is doing. And customers often have their own sites and will link back to yours, increasing your backlinks and driving up your position on Google. This is, after all, where this conversation began.