Search Engine Optimization (SEO): More Old-School Than You Think

At least once a day someone asks me “How can I get my site to the top of search engine results?” They’re hoping I have a secret formula ready to whisper in their ear, and invariably I disappointment them.

In spite of the buzz surrounding SEO, achieving the best position possible for your site is really old-fashioned Marketing 101. You have to start by asking not “what do I have to do to reach the top of the results?” but rather “what is it I’m selling, and to whom??” If you are a store in Perth, Australia specializing in work boots for the local construction trade, then good luck trying to position your site on the keyword “shoes” (or that that matter even trying to buy an ad for that word!!). You’ll be squaring off against 200 million competitors.

And even if you succeeded in scoring well for “shoes”, would you be reaching your true potential customers? No. Better to concentrate instead on keywords and phrases like “work boots Perth” or “construction shoes Australia,” depending on where you’re willing to ship and how much competition you face as you broaden your geographic scope. This is the first phase of a good site optimization plan: identifying the keywords that most closely match the products or services you offer, and the clientele you’re trying to reach.

So what do you do with these keywords once you’ve identified them? You head on to Phase 2, which consists of simply working them into your site content in a logical fashion, adding them to URLs, page titles, content headings and page copy. You should then ask your business partners and friends to link to your site using these keywords in the link description.

It really operates the same way as placing a good yellow pages ad: know whom you’re targeting, where they’ll be looking for you, and in as few words as possible (preferably in your trade name!), let them know exactly what you’re selling.

I’ll return to the topic of search engine optimization in more detail in my next post, but for now, I’ll leave you with an insider tip. Take a look at the site http://www.guppies.com/. It ranks at or near the top of all the search engines. Now notice how it’s got that animated guppy on the home page? This proves that search engines love animated guppies. So sprinkle some liberally throughout your site and you’re sure to climb in the ranks.

Or, you can tune into my next post for some less wiggly advice ;-).

Sebastien, Web Development Director