Since the holidays are approaching and we at KAIZEN are feeling festive, we will give away a few hints and tips to our readers.
First, what is SEO? Very simply, SEO just means including a lot of visible and non-visible data to help a search engine scan your site and then designate its home on the web.
Attracting a “bot” to your site is as simple as baiting a hook and casting your rod, which makes SEO a lot like fishing, and a “bot” a lot like a fish; you don’t see it unless you catch it, you can’t imagine how many there are swimming around under the water, and you really don’t need them all, anyway.
Technically, a “bot” is a program that has certain questions built into it. It comes to your website and quietly “crawls” the data you provide for it and then reports back to Google. Other search engines call their “bots” by different names, such as spiders – hence the term “crawling” – but Google has “bots”, which is just short for “robots”.
So how does one know what kind of bait to use to attract one of these little guys? Well, it helps if you understand programming languages and algorithms, but it’s not always entirely necessary. SEO success depends entirely on who you’re competing against, how good their SEO ranking is and whether or not they’ve been around longer than you. No matter how good your SEO ranking is, if someone has the same kind of information on their site and they’ve been online for ten years, you will almost never beat them in an honest competition. That’s simply the nature of the beast.
Your ranking indicates your placement in search results – the higher your ranking, the more likely you are to beat out someone with a lower ranking than you. This puts you higher on the lists of returned results for your specific key words or phrases. The ever desirable #1 return result becomes more likely if your competition has a low or non-existent ranking. There is no way to damage their ranking so the best thing to do is to endeavor to be better, rather than try to sabotage others. There is a myth that more hits automatically means a higher ranking but this is extremely untrue.
It’s not the number of hits you get that determines how high you sit on the search engine food chain, it’s actually the quality of the hits you receive.
If a visitor searches Google for the term “cake” and finds your website as a result, then your website better be about cake, or they will immediately back up and return to Google for the next result. If they found you simply because you had the phrase “piece of cake” on a website about motorcycles, then this is a bad hit and will result in a “bounce”, which is detrimental to your ranking. A “bounce” is a hit from a visitor that spends little to no time on your website, either because it does not contain the information they were seeking or because they simply didn’t like your site for some other reason. Bounces happen, and it’s not the end of the world if you get a few here and there, but if the majority of your traffic is bouncing, then you are definitely doing something wrong.
But, we can help give you as much of an edge as possible. Just follow these rules and you’ll start to see your website traffic increase in a few short months!
META tags are definitely a little bit out-dated and a lot of people claim they do nothing at all for search engine ranking, but our logic is this: they don’t hurt anything, there’s no reason not to use them and Google changes their programming constantly, so who really knows? Not having META data on your website would be like excluding oxygen from one room in your house because it isn’t used as much as the other rooms.
If you’re blogging, do it comfortably. People search a lot of different ways, but often, they will do so conversationally – for example, if I am searching for an answer to a very difficult technical question, I will actually ask Google in a question format. This is more likely to render me direct results than to search keywords so writing conversationally will help you get the right kind of traffic.
Backlinking is the new link farming. Rather than offering a page of links to websites that have nothing at all to do with your content, backlinking provides the option to mention your competitors or other popular websites in your content or blog, which will actually help you increase traffic over time. Link farming is frowned upon and considered “black hat” SEO. Enough “black hatting” and you can find yourself banned from Google.
Having a professional write some or all of your content can do a lot of good for your search engine ranking. A professional website copywriter knows how to get your audience interested in what you have to say and how to keep them coming back for more. The more time a visitor spends on your site, the better your stats get and thus, the higher your ranking goes. Incorrect grammar and spelling can have negative results and one should always use spellcheck before posting.
Change it up! Blogs are a great way to keep those Google bots coming but make sure you actually update with some regularity, even if it’s only two or three times a year. Developing and increasing your SEO ranking is a very slow process that can take months or even years, in many cases. Blogging regularly will entice bots to recrawl your data and it’s possible they will increase your ranking while they do so, especially if your competitors aren’t keeping up with their own SEO maintenance.
META tags are easy to use and sometimes, this means a little insanity happens. Going overboard with META data can actually be bad for your site. You really want to hammer down on the right terms, rather than using ALL the terms. If a bot hits your site and finds you trying to overextend your reach, they can become petulant and actually diminish your ranking out of spite.
People aren’t coming to your website to spend three hours reading. They want a piece of information that you may or may not have to offer and the more useless content you have, the harder it is for them to find what they’re looking for. Frustrated visitors “bounce” and can cause damage to your ranking. It’s best if you are very succinct and to-the-point whenever possible or you risk losing your audience.
Google doesn’t like it when you try to bully them! We cannot stress this enough. In fact, we never submit to Google, not ever, because there’s a rumor going around that your site is more likely to get picked up if Google finds it organically. This can even result in a higher initial ranking, which gives you a boost if you’re racing to beat out a competing website. Having a professional design your website also helps get you listed faster, provided your webmaster links you back to their own site in the copyright line.
This goes back to the link farming term used above. When the internet first became available to the general public and people started making personal websites in the late 90s, they had this interesting system called a website ring, and even gave awards to the best sites featured in these groups. Each site would post a link on their site to the main website in the ring, or the next site to be added to the ring after them. This was supposed to help people visiting one of the sites, in case it didn’t provide the information being sought – they could simply continue along the chain and see if the next site had what they wanted. This was a good system, as far as SEO ranking goes, and it stands today – throwing up links on your site to any other website in the world does not necessarily do you any good, no matter how many hits they get. Make sure your links are to sites in good standing with Google and try to find sites that are somewhat related to your content. For example, if you sell hats, link to people who sell hat ribbons or other accessories.
Using the same terms and phrases over and over again does not guarantee you more traffic, despite what some SEO specialists might think. A thesaurus is your best friend. Learn new words, write better content and impress your friends with your big, shiny vocabulary!
Social networking is a great way to boost your traffic and increase your ranking. Visit our post about social media and see if you can use a social media website to get your site some extra attention. No one in the world can “guarantee” you a specific ranking on Google, except Google. Beware people who claim they are SEO experts and want you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their SEO systems. They don’t work and will often use “black hat” SEO tactics, which can damage your ranking or get you banned.
Never use “black hat” SEO tactics – getting banned from Google means you will basically disappear off the web. Google has a market share of more than 80% of all search engine traffic. All other search engines take their lead from Google, because it’s just more accurate. If you lose your slot on Google, you can bet Yahoo!, Bing and the others will follow suit fairly quickly.
Learn to be patient! Slowly building your ranking over time is preferable to a quick-and-dirty approach – organic search engine rankings are definitely more lasting and beneficial.