Whenever I meet someone new, either socially or at a business event, and I tell them what I do for a living they usually have one of two responses:
1 – I have no idea what you’re talking about
2 – I know what that is, it doesn’t work
It’s got to the point where I no longer use the initialism ‘SEO’ because of the negative connotations, and I’m starting to refrain from using ‘online marketing’ as well. All too often people just glaze over as I start to explain Google, how rankings work, how websites can be optimised, how traffic can be monitored and how conversions are tracked. I can visibly see the interest disappear from their eyes as they either don’t understand it (and don’t want to) or they think they already understand it and don’t agree with it, or don’t think it works for them.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s how I’ve been explaining it, combined with how their opinion of the industry has been coloured by past experiences. I’ve now taken to telling people just how easy it is and how anybody can do it. I’m not exaggerating, either. It really is simple, at least in theory.
Let’s ignore the technical words, the initialisms and acronyms, the talking of reports, conversions and keywords and instead break it down into what it’s all about – supply and demand. Here’s how we do that with a few very simple questions.
What’s the most popular search engine?
That’s an easy one. Google. It has approximately 90% of UK search traffic, with a smaller share in the USA. It is, easily, the most used search engine by a considerable distance.
Why do people use Google more than any other search engine? Is it the adverts on TV? No, they rarely advertise at all. They don’t need to. Is it the really funky brand? Well, their brand is indeed funky, but people don’t use an information gathering tool because its logo is a bit quirky. Is it because it was the first search engine? Nope. It wasn’t the first, not even close.
So why then? It’s quite simple, really. It’s because it works. When you search for something on Google, it provides more relevant results than the other search engines. Where Yahoo and Bing are easier to influence by people in my industry, Google is less so. It has a very complicated algorithm that works ever so hard to eradicate spam, duplicate results and any and all attempts to ‘game’ the system. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it’s far and away the best at what it does. While it continues to be the best, people will continue to use it.
So how do I get my website to rank high in Google?
Well this is the easy part because, in a sense, we’ve already answered that question. Google wants… no, Google NEEDS to satisfy the searches of the people using it. If it doesn’t, they’ll use another search engine (remember, Google makes billions every year from paid search, so it has to keep people using it). Therefore, in order to make your website rank higher in Google it needs to satisfy a person’s search.
Ask yourself this question – if you were searching for something related to your business (such as a product or service you provide) and you found your own website on the first page of Google, would you be happy about it? Does your website DESERVE to be there? Does it contain the most comprehensive answer to a person’s search? Is it the best resource? Does it have the most up-to-date information?
If it doesn’t, you know what you need to do.
This may sound like an oversimplification, but it’s really not. If you expect your website to rank within Google for searches related to your industry, your website needs to deserve to rank within Google. Adding keyword heavy text, auto-generated content, duplicate content and lots of links won’t, in any way, help to do that.
Only good quality, unique, relevant and engaging content will do that. It should be focused, comprehensive and aimed at your target market. It doesn’t just have to be text, either. This could be video, images, PDFs, animations – any type of content that enriches your website and helps someone looking for information.
If your website doesn’t have any of this, you can’t expect it to rank. It doesn’t deserve to rank. It won’t rank.
It really is that simple.
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