Tuesday, January 6, 2009

SEO - embrace the changes

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.

Fasten your seat belts. There are major changes coming down the search engine pipes soon. What used to be accepted as SEO good practice will need to be overhauled.

In the past when you hired a SEO expert you looked for someone who knows how to edit the content and the HTML within your website to provide a reason for search engines to respect your website. Good SEO work pushed your website toward the top of the first page in results.

Other SEO techniques include local search (by city or region), image searches and searches by industry.

The term "search engine friendly" is often used to refer to the design of a website including its navigation menus, shopping carts and content management systems.

There are many opinions in the SEO community about how to improve your search engine ranking. This is because there is not one, simple, road map to search engine optimization success. Why? Because the search engines often change their algorithms (rules for ranking websites)because they are always looking for ways to improve the results for its customers, the people searching the web.

Never think of your website as a search engine customer. Your site is search engine inventory. In the effort to make their customers happy campers, search engines can be ruthless toward websites that do not follow their rules. Your website can drop from #3 to #568 overnight.

My experience is that if you are not in the top 10 for a search term you effectively are excluded from the results. Searchers sometimes will go no further than the top three results.

So, it is not good business to take the word of someone who achieves good results for a specific SEO technique as the golden rule. There are plenty of reasons why one or two tweaks he made will not improve your ranking.

Take everything you hear about SEO with a grain of salt, especially in 2009.

There will be a reshuffling of the results based on what search engines know about your personal preferences. Yes, the search engines will know a lot more about you and what you want to see based on what you searched previously (if you have personalization turned on - this happens when you sign up for Google tools and even Gmail).

Traditional ranking methods will not go away completely, but if you depend on the past you risk being invisible in the future.

You will be served better by thinking of
higher quality of traffic, talk more conversions, talk more about gaining better "visibility".

According to SEO expert John Alexander, "search ranking has always been about 'top visibility' to the correct searching audience PLUS being able to 'compel the visitor to respond' or take action. The truth is that in the future the question will be more about what percentage of your web pages are being found, by your most correct target audiences, using the right keyword phrases AND for what percentage of the time."

John Alexander believes (and so do I) that we need to learn "why" more than "how" search engines do things.

Embrace the change!

Photo by Danard Vincente

Greg Cryns
Work At Home Profiles

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