For some time now the best ROI for marketing dollars has been SEO or search engine optimization. SEO is a constantly changing practice but if you work to constantly improve the users experience it can be a rewarding discipline. Recently Google (the overwhelming leader in online search) introduced updates to help improve the results of its searches and not everyone is happy about it. There are some in the SEO field who have lost focus of the goal in SEO, which is to improve search results by improving the user experience. Using methods commonly referred to as “black hat” people have even worked to improve results by gaming the system, through methods such as: spam comments, paid linking and others. As the new improvements to the algorithm have been installed these “black hat” SEO methods have ceased to be an asset. Some recent research and elbow grease has lead to some incites in the post Panda search world and below I am going to share some of them. Please take into consideration that no one really knows exactly what these updates contain but some general tweaks are well understood.
1. Understand Google (sort of):
Google uses a system of “Page Rank” named after a Stanford physicist named Larry Page. The simplified basis of this system is that using analysis of links and assuming random clicking patterns it is possible to extrapolate popularity of web sites based off of these patterns. The Page Rank system is strongly based in statistical analysis and probability distribution but when first rolled out it was very easily manipulated. Originally the links were given certain weight and as time went on people figured out that all they had to do was make huge numbers of back links to game the system. Google went on the offensive by discounting certain types of links as well as specific domains to be black listed. Google uses back links as one of over 200 factors to determine search results but seeing as the company based its original ranking off it, someone would have to be foolish to ignore it.
2. Make the Internet A Better Place:
Aside from all the gimmicks and tricks as a web master you should be focused on improving the user experience for your customers. Placing great information and bringing value to your audience will bring in traffic. If you are in the plumbing business don’t be scared to share your information with your audience. Just as back links have been somewhat discounted so has keywords because of a practice of keyword stuffing. Not too long ago webmasters would stuff their pages with keywords making them utterly unreadable and provided no value to the end user to try to improve search results. The Internet consumes content like a car uses fuel; if you can provide high-octane content the search engines will reward you.
3. Develop Your Social Media Profile:
In the next two years there will be a merger of search results and social media. Create a community for your customers and you will drive more traffic to your site that will result in more sales. Social media marketing is a more difficult business but your efforts in this area will not go unnoticed by the search engines.
4. Submit To Directories:
Google has Places, Yahoo has Maps even Bing has developed a directory for local businesses to upload locations and bypass most of the search results. Get yourself noticed by your location to your potential customers. There are tons of new sites everyday that can make it more difficult to get high search rankings but, with an actual brick and mortar store the search engines will help you with higher visibility.
5. Quality Over Quantity:
In tip number one we talked about links as they relate to search results and even though over time the importance of linking has gone down, high quality links are as useful as ever. Links are not all created equal and though you will get penalized for “over-optimization” of spam links the same is not true for high value links to well respected sites in your niche. Create relationships with others in your niche and get linked to their high ranked page and you may see improvements in your SERP.
6. Use Other Media:
If your site isn’t getting noticed in the crowd maybe you are not unique enough. Consider exploring other media options, like a video or a blog or a vlog (video blog). Use all the available platforms to get you message out, don’t just sit around and wait for the search engines to find you. Podcasting, having a YouTube channel and others can really help drive traffic.
7. Give Your Customers A Reason To Like You:
Keeping your site updated regularly will give you a boost to SERP and give your customers a reason to visit regularly. When traffic is combined with offers and discounts you will find you have a reason for your clients to share your page build back links and visit your store. Like small business search results are about relationships so focus on providing value and watch your traffic rise.