I’m not an SEO expert (thankfully I have Pack members who are). And you probably aren’t either. So why write a blog about SEO? Even though I haven’t been trained in SEO, I’ve learned a few important things on the subject. Good SEO isn’t something you can simply “fix” or “quickly improve” on its own. Good SEO often happens when you focus on good content.
SEO means search engine optimization. It’s the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. That’s an important goal for anyone with a website. More traffic typically means more clients, more patients, more donors, more buyers.
Ten or more years ago, increasing SEO meant focusing solely on keyword terms to get search engines to find and index your site. I remember writing content for websites with a crib sheet of terms I had to include in order to call it good copy. It was often challenging to include the desired terms in a way that sounded natural in the content. But that’s the game we had to play.
However, today, Google attempts to understand meaning rather than matching keywords. Keywords are still important, but the quality and meaning of your content is more important.
Google also changes their algorithm frequently, making it difficult to guess how your site will rank and determine what exactly is causing a change in ranking. In fact, just last week Google released another update that is wreaking havoc for many organizations that are experiencing a dramatic decrease in traffic. If you have the luxury of a full-time resource or two to spend on SEO, I’d make sure they’re focused on examining the impact of Google algorithm updates.
So, what should we non-SEO-experts focus on? Here’s my short list of top priorities (yes, as a writer I just had to use alliteration on these):
1. Meaning – Write meaningful content. Without fresh, relevant content, your site is just begging to be ranked behind a competitor. Content counts – from your homepage to your blog to your newsroom. Make sure the description of your offerings match language that today’s customers are searching. When I hear prospects say, “Yeah, that content on our site is pretty old…we just haven’t gotten around to updating it,” I simply cringe. Keeping your site current should never be an isolated project. It should be an ongoing effort.
2. Mobile – Make sure your site not only works on mobile devices but looks good, is easy to navigate and provides a good experience. It’s no surprise that the market share for mobile has now surpassed desktop, with some estimates at 55%+ share. Here’s a great article from Forbes on mobile trends: Why Catering To Mobile Users Is Vital For Today's Services.
3. Meta – Make sure you include meta descriptions on pages and on images. A meta description is a snippet of up to about 155 characters – a tag in HTML – which summarizes a page's content. Yoast is one of many plug-in tools that help organizations evaluate their meta tags and descriptions to ensure site optimization.
4. Mentions – Link to other third-party credible sources in your content. Borrowing the popularity of content from other sites, especially those well respected in your industry, can help your own SEO rankings. Be sure to attribute the content accordingly and periodically check for broken links. Because you’re referencing other sites, you can’t control if they move or remove the content down the road so occasional link testing is key.
My point in all this? There’s no silver bullet for optimizing your site. It’s a process that takes time and focus and starts with creating good content. If you focus on content, the rest will come.
I’d like to credit my former colleague, Alex Webb, for patiently teaching me the basics of SEO over the years. She’s a master of digital strategy…literally. She is Google AdWords certified in search advertising, mobile advertising, display advertising and video advertising.
Maybe my fifth M should be Make Friends with people like Alex!