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Moving Goalposts

There’s an inherent mystery around the art and science of optimizing a web site for search. The optimization process changes nearly every week as Google works behind the scene, changing the rules to make their engine’s results more search friendly and relevance-centric. For SEO specialists, it’s like playing a soccer game where the goalposts keep moving every 15 minutes.

It’s rumored that some SEO gurus burn incense and go into a trance when they do their magic. Add to this that no one really sees the results of their optimization efforts for months as Google bots scan the entire content of the internet.

In the old days (4-5 years ago), you could load your web site text with searched keywords and Google would help people find you. Now, Google is going beyond the keywords and is “reading what you’ve written” to determine the meaning and relevancy of your content using more than just keywords.

This leads us to the 4 golden rules of SEO (which might change by the time you read this):

  1. Content drives SEO and content must be relevant. Making content relevant requires you to know WHO you are writing for and WHAT they want to know. You can’t just wing-it like you did with half your essays in high school. Google does semantic* searches now and they want content that has a take-away – a pay-off for the reader that addresses what he/she/they is searching for.Some research firms have discovered that Google likes comprehensive and thorough long form content more than short form. At the same time, content must be layered. Give readers a taste and lead them, using links, to more comprehensive and detailed content at the levels below. By the way, the essence of “comprehensive content” can mean adding videos, white papers, slide shows, etc., not more text. Bottom line, your content must be relevant and RESONATE with the target reader. The best content is meaningful and always meets the needs of the target reader.
  2. Back links are critical. Get back links to your site from AUTHORITATIVE domains. Getting other industry authorities to link to your mouth-watering, high value content can make a difference. It’s other websites with cred giving your website cred. Create great content and then promote it using social media.
  3. Think Mobile. Google indexes mobile-friendly sites first. If your site works well on smart phones and other mobile/pad devices, Google will give you extra brownie points. RESPONSIVE content that works well on any device is a must.
  4. Technical Factors
    • Encrypt your web site using HTTPS encryption. It prevents Google from labeling your site “unsafe” which can hurt your ranking.
    • H1 and H2 headings. These are in your site code and your technical specialist or SEO guru can help improve them.
    • Avoid pop ups and interstitials. Exceptions are log in dialogs, small banners which can be dismissed, and legally required interstitials. Most of these are annoying anyway

Much of the above advice may be too technical for some readers and that’s why enlisting a SEO specialist may be in order. But remember, you need to have a helicopter view of the SEO process in order fully understand what the specialists do.

Plus, much of the burden lies in the creation of content. So put whoever is creating content in the same room with the SEO specialists. They should be working shoulder-to-shoulder.

Want to dive deeper into SEO and how Content is a critical element? Download our eGuide: The Batman and Robin of Modern Marketing: Search Engine Optimization & Content

*Semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

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