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Here’s another “answer without thinking” question for you. What is the goal of your SEO efforts? What’s that carrot at the end of your proverbial stick, the cherry on your ice cream sundae? What is it that you want to achieve?
If you said “to increase sales for my business” or “to get more leads through my web site”, congratulations, you can probably stop reading and get back to work marketing your site! Unfortunately that’s not a typical answer.
Although most people would agree that they want their website to generate business, when it comes to thinking about SEO they lose sight of the prize, and the goal becomes less about the sale and more about the status of a coveted spot in search listings.
Myth #6: The “Number One” Myth
You’ve optimized your site, now when is it going to be number one? Maybe never! Probably not what you wanted to hear, but the best way to work with the search engines is to understand them and to have a realistic expectation of success.
There is absolutely no way to guarantee a position in organic search results and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Even Google states clearly in its guidelines that no one has a “special relationship” with them or can promise a specific result.
But before you decide to spend your inheritance buying up advertising to boost your ranking, it’s important to understand that ranking isn’t everything. Your rank can change daily, or by the location you’re searching from, even by personal preferences that you set on your browser. You would be better served by analyzing your site traffic reports to measure visits, conversions and visitor trends.
Would you rather increase your web site sales, or its position on a page?
Without obsessing about the number one slot, there are ways to affect how a search engine sees and ranks your site. A good search marketing program will take into account the basics:
- Content. Targeted, keyword-rich and professional content will win every time.
- Links between pages. If your pages aren’t adequately interconnected or if your links are broken, your site will not be crawled, or indexed, properly.
- Graphics. Heavy use of graphics to the exclusion of content can hurt your rank.
- External links. Play the popularity game and make sure that other relevant, high quality sites link back to yours. Search engines will reward you for it.
- Keyword usage. Attain the proper balance between overuse and under use. Keep your content meaningful and targeted to specific keywords and a specific audience.
- HTML or code quality. Messy, bloated, non-standard code can keep your site from being crawled and indexed. Validate the code of each page of your site using the industry standard W3C code validator and correct errors.
All of these things come into play when dealing with search engines and can improve your site’s listing in them. But remember, search engines aren’t the ones buying your product, signing up for your newsletter or contracting for your service. People do that, so when it comes to search marketing, be careful not to focus on search engines and forget about the real people who you hope to turn into customers.
Being “number one” is not the point. Being a successful, profitable business is. It’s entirely possible to be one without the other, so be careful that you’re aiming for the right goal.
How do you measure the success of your search marketing program? Do you use analytics, sales or search ranking as a metric?