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November 25, 2014

Search Engine Optimization IS Something You Can Understand

Author: Kristen Bachmeier

Over the years, our culture has become an obsessed media feeding frenzy, pouring over any information or content that we can devour. This has led to many quick judgments; celebrities getting convicted in the media before ever being charged with anything and people in general making up their minds on things before taking the time to learn and understand a situation fully.

It’s not like we choose to make our decisions this way, but it’s hard to read through a Facebook news feed and NOT be told what to think or believe. The demand for instant access and immediate coverage has helped shape the world in which we live.

All lynch mobs aside, my article is not denouncing the cultural norm, but just an effort to show that it is not the final answer. The goal here is to show the readers that something that is considered extremely complicated—search engine optimization—is really something that can be understood and properly utilized by the non-hacking web community (that’s interface speak for everybody else that doesn’t spend every waking minute of their day staring into computer screen and programming).

Allow me to break it down.

Understanding SEO Means Understanding the Search Engines

I hope this encourages you to always look at things from a business perspective first. Google and Bing are businesses. They exist NOT to provide you with pizza delivery options, but to make money for themselves. The same can be said for all other search engines. And, since they do not make any money from you, the searcher, they must make their money from somewhere. This is why we have Ads; and why those Ads are annoyingly on the top of every SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

For Google to stay in business, they rely on ad revenue made through the PPC, or pay-per-click advertising system. This is the same for Bing, YouTube, Facebook, you name it. All the major sites that don’t charge for your use make up for it by charging advertisers for space. So, my first question to you is:

What is Google’s top priority?

google logo for search engine optimizationTheir top priority is to make their advertisers rich and happy. To do so, they must make sure that when searchers click on an Ad, they don’t click back and go to another one. I call this “One Click to Decision”. Their goal is to put the absolute best choice for searchers at the top so that they can minimize the number of click off that search page. To fail at that would mean that advertisers spend money, but never make any revenue, because people don’t find what they want and click away.

It is just common sense – regardless of the evolution of Google’s rules, there are principles that stay the same. In order for them to make money, they have to provide the best choice to searchers. That’s why they are ranked. If you show yourself to be the better choice, Google is likely to rank you higher. It works the same in an organic search as well. While some aspects of SEO are basic, not all are readily discussed. Here are a few basic examples.

Inbound vs. Outbound Search Engine Optimization

Most everybody is familiar with the basics of SEO:

  • Update your website regularly and consistently (does Google even know you are in business?)
  • Content is King (keywords!)
  • Be the Expert and gain others linking to your site (goes right back to that 1 click to decision idea)

While I could certainly go into more detail, the foundation is clear. If you do what Google wants for their revenue gain, you stand to get yourself highly ranked on the search page. But what happens when Google gets to your site? Will they like what they see?

A website that has not been maintained, kept secure and cleaned up regularly is akin to the individual at a networking event who hasn’t showered in a week, never brushed their teeth and is coughing on everyone. Nobody wants to meet them. In the same way, Google is not going to rank you highly if you have broken links, long loading times and outdated keywords that don’t match your site.

Proper and regular maintenance on your website will go a long way with your cyber-reach. How long has it been since you cleaned out your unapproved or spam comments? When was the last time you checked to make sure all your links worked? Are you keeping an eye on your server and making sure that your site hasn’t been hacked or had anything attached to it? Have you ever seen a normal business website that all of a sudden causes your computer to pull up inappropriate pop-ups? Issues like these can cause Google to lower you in the rankings and need to be proactively watched diligently just as much as you are pushing the site out there with your content work.

YouTube vs. Your Search Results

youtube logo search engine optimizationEven if you are doing everything right, you still have to deal with service providers that have other priorities than you. YouTube, for instance offers FREE video hosting to anyone. All you have to do is upload the video, ensure no copyrights are breached and embed the video on your website. You do this because you know that your customers like video and you spent a pretty penny getting that commercial made. So, you get the embed code from YouTube and put it on your site, making sure to tag the video properly and add a good description so the video itself will work in the search engines.

Your expected result is that the video now shows up in search engines and once someone watches the video on YouTube, they will see a link and click on it back to your site. The problem is, that’s not what YouTube wants. They want that searcher to click on the related videos and sponsored (Ad) videos in the right hand column. So, YouTube is motivated to make the push on their web page to keep people clicking on other videos and away from you – and that person was searching for your keywords to find you!

While there are ways and necessities to work with these vendors, we cannot be too learned in the ways they work. The more we understand their business model, the better we will be at utilizing that business model appropriately for our gain. And we also need to understand that they are NOT our only options! YouTube is NOT the only video hosting service that works across all device platforms and allows for mobile sharing. It may, in fact, be worthwhile to pay for video hosting that will allow you absolute control on your customer’s video experience.

Search Engine Optimization Uniquely for You

There is no blanket SEO plan that will work for everyone. All needs and situations are different, however, a smart, hygienic and healthy plan that is strategized and consistent with aforethought will give you your best chance at success. Know your business and understand how each of your vendors’ business models work, including companies like Google, YouTube, Bing, Yelp and others. Be a student of business and study all sides of the situation and you will have the best leg up on the competition that’s possible.

Kristen Bachmeier

Kristen Bachmeier is Atilus' Director of Operations and helps to oversee all client accounts and day-to-day operations. Kristen also has a background in digital marketing, and has been working in the digital marketing space since 2012.

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