A well-optimized website is critical for reaching customers online and staying competitive. So you thought you bought a website that was “Search Engine Optimized,” right? The problem with the phrase “Search Engine Optimization”, however, is that it’s true meaning has been diluted by those looking to take advantage of buyer ignorance. What you need to understand is that there is a difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and a site that was built to be “search friendly.” Let’s explain why.
The biggest difference is that search engine optimization is an actual process executed over time. It not only deals with components on and about your site, but also what’s happening with how the search engine algorithms change and how your activities impact your changing rankings over time. Building a search-friendly website just addresses search visibility factors in one moment in time — when your website is built. Though you do want this kind of attention while your site’s being built, you should lower your expectations about the impact of this work on your search engine rankings over time.
To help put this in perspective, here are just a few Google changes in recent times that may directly have affected your website if you are not doing ongoing SEO:
- Google claims not to care about keyword meta tags or “Page Rank” any longer
- Inbound link quantity has taken a back seat to link quality
- Google Panda update further penalizes sites that appear to scrape and duplicate content from other sites
- Google may now be looking at content above the fold and assigning rank based on what it perceives of as “ads-to-content ratio”
- Google now tracks mobile search traffic uniquely and mobile-driven search referred traffic volume is increasing by double and triple digits year-over-year (yet less than 10% of the Web in 2012 is mobile ready)
- Google will now be protecting user specific search queries by not revealing keyword referral data in Google Analytics
- Google is now weighing social sharing, particularly through its own Google Plus (“+1″) as a factor for determining relevancy for search queries
Impact of Social Sharing on Search
One of the most significant changes that search engines have made recently is the consideration of your social impact on the web. For instance, have you ever noticed your search results seem tailored to you when you’re logged into a Google product? This is the result of a recent Google initiative called “Search Plus Your World” where Google integrates social results (e.g. your friends’ recommendations) from your account into your search results.
These days, it is important to spread your message well beyond your website by including fresh content, comments and links that are relevant to your business. Information that you share on social networks will be crawled and indexed by search engines, thus improving your chances of being found on the web.
Migrating from Search-Friendly to True SEO
If you don’t have any procedures in place to continue optimizing your site and you’re not seeing an increase in site traffic over time, you haven’t truly optimized your site. Here are a few things you can do:
- Routinely refer to your web analytics software to see if your search-engined referral traffic has steadily increased. If it has not, you may need to fix obstacles that prevent your site from being search friendly.
- Run search engine queries on your critical keyword phrases to see where you rank (and who’s above you). If you do not appear on the first page or two of search engine results, you’re pretty much invisible to the majority of search users which means no traffic for you.
- If you’re not sure you have even selected the right keyword phrases, you may want to conduct some formal Keyword Research. SEO of the wrong keywords still means no traffic for you.
If you can’t do the above, consider hiring a professional. A successful SEO company will ensure your website keeps up with the ever-changing search engine changes, will develop high-quality, well-ranked web pages, content and links and will help you measure the impact of your SEO efforts on your overall business objectives. If you’re truly serious about competing in an online environment, don’t just settle for the one-and-done approach.
Web Ad.vantage is a full-service online marketing company with core competencies in search engine optimization, PPC Campaign Management and online media buying. Visit our Internet Marketing Services section to learn more about our full range of services.
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