There used to be a time when SEO was pretty simple. It was known as black-hat SEO. In other words, those who knew the rules, knew how to game the system. They knew that if they needed a certain keyword density, they would write the word X number of times, in white text to hide it in plain view, put it under all of the content and Voila—the trick is done (as Bugs Bunny used to say)! Then Google arrived and wrote algorithms to find these perpetrators and put them out of business. They changed the rules and made it that quality, consistency, original and abundant content were the key. This made blogging the new SEO.
It used to be that the right SEO company was a good investment, if you could afford them (not all SEO companies are equal). Since they knew what first page was worth in possible sales, you paid through the nose. These companies would do two things: on-page and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is something you can do yourself! Especially if you use a system like WordPress, where theme authors build SEO into their programming. You make sure you have a good meta title, description and keywords listed on each page. Use ALT TAGS on all your images (alternate descriptions are important, because a bot cannot see a picture and the blind use readers that describe the image based on your alt tag). Use h1 through h6 headers to organize your content; have a site map; put your Google Analytics code in the theme, header or plugin, and your on-page SEO is pretty much done. Sounds complicated, but really it isn’t. It’s just meticulous.
Off-page was where it became tricky. You see, one of the primary metrics Google and other search engines uses to see if you deserve the coveted first-page ranking is whether those who search find your site relevant and important. Well, the only way to gage that would be by two metrics: how many people come to your site and stay long enough to not be considered a bounce (read What Does Your Bounce Rate Say about Your Website) and if they linked to your website. This is known as a backlink. However, a backlink to a not-so-reputable site (torrent sites, porn, badly written and/or ignored sites) counts against you; so be careful.
What the SEO gurus would do, is have a list of bloggers they’ve compiled over the years write a short article about your website, link to it and you had lots of backlinks. But, again, if any of those sites are not considered quality, you were in for more pain than gain.
Google became hip to this and are currently working on an algorithm to eliminate backlinks (read Google is changing the Rules Again: Verified Authorship Vs. Backlinks). In a statement made by Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the web-spam team, said, “If you want to be found, make sure your content is of high quality; like what you would write for a book or good magazine.” What’s the implication of that statement? You do these things when you BLOG!
When you finish your website, other than adding events, a new image and/or updating content because you moved, are having a sale or someone got promoted, fired or quit; you won’t touch your core pages much. So how does one create consistent, quality and original content? You blog. This is also known as content marketing.
A blog has many forms. It can be a written article, a video, a podcast or an infographic. However, I do recommend that the majority of it be written.
With the advent of social media, content marketing will drive about 90% of your traffic to your website. There are many different avenues in which to disseminate it; you can target market by interest, region or demographic, and you are in control of your messaging. However, social media is not the only place that benefits from your content; people searching on Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL and the myriad number of other search engines in existence do as well.
You see, search engines constantly scour the Internet to see what’s there. They index what they find by category, genre and keywords. Therefore, eventually, when someone searches for a topic you wrote on, your article will appear as a result. They may not have found your homepage or website, but they found you through your back door. When they click on the link, they’ve just entered your website. If your website is done properly and uses the sidebar effectively, it will pull them in deeper and now they will see what you have to offer. After all, it doesn’t matter how they got there; just that they did.
Besides SEO, your blog can help with online reputation issues. The more you blog, it pushes any bad results down. Since most people don’t go past page two, and few past page five, this is one method online-reputation companies use to hide your bad press. Simply create articles and keep publishing, and they charge $1,000 a month for this.
Another benefit is removing any objections. Your articles will explain what you know and do in detail; hence if someone reaches out to you for your services, they will already know what you do and how, and the remaining issue is price.
Finally, it also provides awareness, credibility and trust. These are key factors in the buying decision process.
So if you wish to increase your presence on the search engines, make sure you’re blogging. Write your articles to entertain, inform and help, and never to sell. Ensure your website is ready for prime time, with good aesthetics, calls to action, conversion forms and well-written sales/marketing content. After all, getting them there is only half the battle; keeping them there and earning their interest is another story. If you do these things, you will be doing your own SEO and it will be more effective and paint a picture of a quality company.