Search Engine Optimization is a service that pretty much all of our clients want, need or expect at some point in time. Over the years, I have gained extensive experience and knowledge from working with different types of strategies… and here are some of my thoughts on that topic.
Everybody wants to be #1 on google’s SERP (search engine results page). But there can be only one, of course, and the more websites vie for that placement, the harder it becomes to get there. I’m stating the obvious here but it helps to think about that fact when developing your SEO strategy. And there are plenty of strategies, some proven and legit, others not so much. We used to differentiate between “white hat” and “black hat” SEO but Google et al have become smarter and I’d argue that, nowadays, there’s no such thing as hacking search engine results.
In fact, I believe there is only one sure-fire strategy and it is called “authoritative content”. It is, in fact, not much of a strategy but a goal and a process. And it starts with a statement I read on google itself, which says “Don’t optimize your website for search engines. Optimize it for your visitors.”
Don’t optimize your website for search engines. Optimize it for your visitors. GOOGLE
Google tracks the amount of time a user spends on a given website before returning to their search results. The less time visitors spend on your site (after finding it on Google’s SERP) the lower you will rank*. Which means that authoritative content is most certainly part of the ranking algorithms and makes good sense because you want your visitors to find extensive information about the topic that they just searched on Google.
It goes without saying that we develop fast, secure and stable websites in a standards-compliant fashion with proper meta tags and code structure. That is called “on-site SEO” and the foundation of any strategy.
We also consult on content – again, the most effective component of any SEO strategy – starting with the proper selection of keywords. In fact there’s an entire process dedicated to that keyword exploration starting with the analysis of your content as well as your competitors. We not only check rankings but figure out which keywords work best for your site and your purpose. Selling T-shirts or auto parts is a different goal than reaching influencers or starting a food blog.
After the right keywords have been chosen, we advise on content itself, helping populate or adjust your site’s copy with relevant and authoritative content, often employing copywriters with experience in your market or field of expertise. Fixing and adjusting content to properly relate to your desired keywords is a process that works wonders and costs little. If you are starting with a new website, you should make sure that content is up to par and there will basically be no extra cost associated with SEO.
As a sample for authoritative content I like to present a website that we built in 2005 for USC’s Tsunami Research Center, dedicated to the research and science of Tsunamis. For lack of budget, we have not updated the site since 2010 and it has received continuously bad SEO scores from different sources. Yet we rank #8 on a google search for “tsunami research” (no quotes) which yields over 44mio results**. And that is entirely due to authoritative content written by scientist who are world-renown specialists in their field and are being looked up by everyone from CNN, the New York times and National Geographic.
Incoming links to your site (backlinks) are equally important. It was the foundation for Google’s original PageRank, an algorithm that took into account the importance and ‘weight’ of an incoming link’s domain authority. In other words, when the nytimes.com links directly to your website, it plays a far greater role in assessing YOUR website’s importance, than if, say, piroc.com links to your site. The New York Times has a far greater “domain authority” than this very website might have (but one can hope). It started when Larry Page and Sergey Brin – the founders of Google – noticed that professors at Stanford, where they studied computer science, would pay more attention to students’ papers if they referenced important or well-known authors. In other words, if your paper referenced the New York Times’ website their professor would read that before another paper, referencing piroc.com – because, let’s face it, who is that?!
There are plenty of other important aspects and things to consider when it comes to SEO. And we’re happy to discuss those if you reach out. Meanwhile, as we got back into the SEO game ourselves, I decided to start with my own website’s ranking. What kind of SEO consultant would I be if my own website didn’t rank well?
Well, after a few month of work, I’m proud to report that we are ranking in the top 4 in most markets (US and EU). As you might know now, we employed Google Ads and Analytics to set, track and, ultimately achieve our goal of getting leads. Again, different websites and businesses have different goals and ours was for users to fill out that contact form and send us that inquiry.
What’s very exciting about our SE performance is the fact that we rank so high within a set of almost 200mio results.
If you want to be among those high performers, do reach out.
* this statement is not officially confirmed by google. also note that search engine rankings are derived from a multitude of complex and secret algorithms.
** as of December 2018 (dropped below #40 as of June 2019)