The number one frustration for most small business owners is a lack of visibility of their beautiful well-designed website. “I spent all this money on a website but no one can find it! How do I get it to the top of the Google?” Welcome to Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO/SEM). It’s true. You can have the most awesomest site on the web, but it won’t make a bit of difference if no one can find it! The goal of any business is to be ranked #1 on any SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for keywords relating to your business, driving traffic to your wonderful, gorgeous website. The short-term fix to the problem is to spend money on advertising through Google, print media, promotions and such, herding potential clients to your website where they’ll say “Wow! This is EXACTLY what I need!” Or they’ll leave without spending a dime and your bank account shrinks. This strategy will drive traffic to your site, and, if the guest finds your website useful, they might spread the word out to their friends. But what if you don’t have the money to promote your website, first-time visitors don’t return and you see zero return on investment? The best investment in terms of both time and money to raise the profile of your website and generate traffic is through content generation.
Search Engines (And Their Designers) Keep Getting Smarter
We all rely on a search engine to find the best, most relevant information for our queries. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are in a heated race to develop and refine their search algorithms and penalize the ‘black hat’ tactics of unscrupulous web designers who boost their websites to the top of the SERP through strategies meant to dupe the algorithm. As search engine programs crawl across the ever-expanding webiverse, original content is the most valuable asset of any website. These web crawlers index your content and assign values to your page based on what they find; the relevant keywords that will make one webpage more “valuable” than another. Google and Friends are keenly aware of keyword stuffing strategies and duplicate content, for example, lowering the value of websites that employ them. When the Google police come down on the bad guys, it increases the value of your original writing! Bear in mind the penalties of plagiarism; they can haunt you long after your academic career. And for the visually inclined? Pictures and embedded video make for great visual content, but the crawlers can’t assign much value to either. The labels of both will factor into the overall weight of your website, but a crawler can’t sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch your awesome slideshow or video demonstration. If you plan on recording video presentation to accompany your website, include a transcription the crawlers can index as content. Crawlers are more like super-bookworms than couch potatoes. And, like any avid reader, they will love you more if you are constantly churning our more written content.
What Do I Have to Write About?
While crawlers have very little in the way of personality, you are writing both for the crawlers and intelligent humans who will question, corroborate and refute what you have written. Consider a radio talk-show host like Howard Stern. Stern is a master at engaging his listeners. Stern’s show wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining and popular if no one called to chip in their two cents! Much of his best ‘material’ isn’t what is written and performed on air, but the dialogue he creates with the listeners. When the show starts to get a little stale, all he has to do is open up the floodgates, take a few phone calls and ZANG! There’s an easy 30 minutes of unscripted material for the listeners. With your website, social media page, twitter account and blog, you can do the same thing. Don’t get all big-headed about it, but you know more than most people when it comes to your area of expertise. Whether you are a nuclear physicist or a Beanie Baby collector, if you don’t know a thing or two more than the average bear, you wouldn’t invest in a website in the first place. What articles helped you gain a greater understanding of your subject? What other people or companies do you consider leaders? What did you read last week? What did you think about them? Don’t get hung up on trying to write a piece that blows away all conventional wisdom, making you an overnight internet sensation. I’m not. Write about what you know, the problems you see and the solutions or advise you can offer the reader. Share your insights and critiques. Offer questions for discussion. When you get it published to the web, you may be writing in an empty room for a while, but there will always be one important visitor: the web crawlers.
Spread The Love
“Great. I wrote this piece 3 months ago and no one has commented on it at all. Phil, you’re stupid.”
Hold on just a second there. You’ve been diligent, writing at least 500 words a week on your blog, linking that on your social media pages, throwing that link onto twitter, submitting the article to trade industry websites and everywhere else you can, right? Unless you are paying an SEO/SEM/SMM specialist (like me) to do this, you’ll need to get your articles out into the open where people can read them!Beyond social media sites and your own blog, the most fertile ground for your work is on industry-specific website. Passing around your article is critical to building an active audience who hopefully will share it with their friends and expand your influence. There are plenty of article directories where you can submit the article, but as crawlers index the industry site, your works will gain more of a boost in an engine's eyes if the article is found among its peers. You wouldn't create an article on history of Grateful Dead tie-dye patterns and then submit to a website dedicated to the oil industry's use of dish soap, right? No. Bad idea. Seek out websites populated by your industry peeps first. Search engines recognize and assign more value to articles that are ‘shared’ or ‘+1,’ boosting your profile, your website and your rank in the community! And don’t be timid in your writing. Don’t hold back. Get feedback from all corners. Be provocative. Make a stand. Invite commentary. The discussion will help everyone.
How Long Is This Gonna Take?
Unless you have a team of writers dedicated to content generation (like a newspaper), content generation takes a good deal of self-discipline and dedication. Building up a body of content will take time as will submission of the articles. Here at Edgeworks Creative, each staff member spends approximately half a day each week writing on a topic of their choice for our website or blog. After the editing, final corrections and dissemination across the web, that’s a good chunk of time! And the search engines? Rising in the ranks won’t happen overnight either, sorry. Crawlers will typically index your site once a month. In fact, in order for a website to gain the next foothold in the Page Rank, you need to ‘improve’ your website by a factor of ten. Although you may hear stories and promises of immediate returns in SEO by charlatan outfits, rarely do websites rise or fall quickly in the rankings (remember ‘black hat’ seo tactics?) and maintain that position. Whatever else you employ to drive traffic to your website, content generation should be the cornerstone of you marketing strategy. Thanks and Spread the Love! Phil