These days, search engine optimization is a major influencer of site design, layout, and content. This is a good thing, but I’ve noticed a few trends that lead me to urge caution. The risks of “overdoing” your SEO efforts are big and range from decreasing site usability (for your real users) to being blacklisted by one or more search engines. Here’s my practical approach to SEO.
- Do all the basics – This includes all the common SEO techniques, such as putting keywords in your page URL’s, page titles, meta text, and links. Also work on getting some quality backlinks. Make your content match what your customers / users are interested in seeing.
- Don’t overdo it – Too much content not only detracts from your site usability, but may turn off the search engines as well. Many sites rank well that have little content. Tune your site slowly, and watch the results.
- Have patience – It can easily take a year or more to get your site ranking well, even if you’ve made all the right SEO moves. So don’t expect organic searches to be your major source of traffic in the beginning. Plan to supplement with ads or other promotions.
- Keep in mind the search engine’s goals – Google and Bing are trying to return the best search results possible – that means the most relevant to the user. So make sure your keywords and content match you site’s purpose. For example, if you are in commercial real estate, make sure your site content emphasizes that. If you get users coming in looking for residential real estate, it’s bad for both you, and the search engine. Remember, the search engines can tell if the user returns to the search after viewing your site, and may demote your site accordingly (since the user obviously didn’t find what they wanted). So, be clear what services you provide, and what areas you serve (if you are geographically limited).
- Track and measure – In order to tell how changes are affecting your site, use an analytics/ statistics package to track your traffic over time. It’s difficult to attribute traffic to specific changes, but at least you can determine what growth and ranking has occurred over time.
These are the principles I use to do SEO. I avoid making guarantees or promises, but do offer practical, time-tested techniques for making your site search engine friendly.
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