Saturday, May 18, 2013

Do Not Judge a Website By Look Alone: Why Organic SEO is Crucial

The other day at a business card exchange I met two slim men wearing stylish sport coats. Both men were eating chocolate chip cookies, and their stylish clothes and amiable chatter made me briefly forget the actual purpose of the event: to exchange business cards. For a lovely moment, we simply talked about finely-tailored sports coats. I was charmed.

When one of the men veered the conversation back to business, however, I was a bit confused. Introducing him and his partner as "IT Professionals," the man proceeded to talk in a way that made absolutely no sense to me. He might've spoke of an IGZO display and Targeted Tweets, but I can't be sure.

Baffled, I pressed him to explain what he meant by "IT Professional." 

"We develop websites," he said.

"Oh," I said, excited. "So you must know SEO?"

"It is trivial," he said, finishing his final bite of cookie.

"SEO," his partner said, laughing. "Most website owners can do SEO for themselves."

So it seems: even two-well-dressed IT Professionals misunderstand SEO!

If you're a new website owner, and you are reading this blog right now, let me tell you a  secret: most likely, you cannot do SEO for yourself.

I certainly do not mean to discourage you. I only mean to save you a tremendous hassle.

Search engine optimization is crucial for any new website, and often a thoughtful SEO campaign marks the difference between a successful website or a failure. Unfortunately, as more website owners understand the importance of SEO, more try to perform their own optimization techniques with the hope of quick results: a first page placement in a week or month. We have seen many website owners dive into SEO this way--and drown.

It is sad, but true: time after time, we see website owners attempt to promote their websites quickly with absolutely no results. Often, in fact, results are not visible two, three, four, or five months later.

At this point, after failing to perform a successful SEO campaign by themselves, many website owners yield to the alluring temptation of outsourcing. Yes, only after months of failure, do most website owners decide to hire a professional SEO company. And again: they demand quick results.

I will tell you another secret: most SEO companies follow their client's wishes, even if these wishes are not to the client's best interests. Seeking quick results, most SEO companies end up continuing the faulty tactics that did not work in the first place.

In truth, SEO is a process, and not easy process. A real SEO professional, one who works with honesty and integrity, will tell each cleint a hard truth: real SEO cannot be performed quickly. Even if you have the proper SEO knowledge, and a talent for algorithms, it is simply not possible to adequately optimize a website within one day, week, or month.

The major search engines prefer this scenario. Most new websites only gradually attain higher rankings over other websites in the same industry. From Google's perspective, for example, the only way any website can truly be optimized is with the help of organic website optimization, and the very word "organic" implies a slow, natural process. This is why organic website optimization is often also called natural website optimization? Both words imply a slow, steady process: like evolution.

Additionally, the major search engines will always give more credit to websites that already exist. Top-ranked websites have earned their placement over a period of many years by consistently offering the best content, and by continually updating their website features to align with the changing dynamics of the search engine algorithms.

So what happens when a hot new website shows up on the market? Of course, search engines do not mind replacing an old website's with a new website in search rankings--but the new website has to earn it! Just like the former top-ranked website, the new website has to prove that their website is better, and that their product is better, cheaper, and more informative . Only then will the new website become King of the Internet.

You know the old saying, "Do not judge a book by its cover." Well, Google does not judge websites on look alone. Just like an IT Professional, a website can look beautiful in its finely-tailored sport coat, but what if the website displays no true knowledge of SEO? Simply put: Google will not increase this website's ranking. 

Google doesn't judge websites by look alone--and neither should you!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Key Terms: On-Site and Off-Site Optimization

Most websites, old and new, can be optimized for major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing--most, but not all. So it is crucial for website owners to understand exactly how they can (or cannot) apply organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to their existing sites.
 
Of course, the optimal strategy is to design and develop a website with organic SEO in mind, and then create engaging, optimized content. In this best-case scenario, your SEO specialist can easily create on-site optimization: the direct application of SEO techniques to one or many pages on the website itself.

However, if you do not build a website with SEO in mind, you might inadvertently limit the website's ability to be optimized at all. In certain cases, a website will not be able to optimized because the designer included unworkable elements. Web crawlers, for example, cannot index Flash technology. A poorly-designed website might not even be capable of being crawled by any major search engines. In this worse case scenario, the search engines will not even add your website to their database--and your customers will have no way to find you!

If you're website cannot be easily optimized, your SEO specialist can still perform off-site optimization:  the application of SEO techniques to a separate page or pages that are not part of a website. These pages might even be located in a different directory, on different servers, or even in a different country. The goal is to redirect users to the original website.

So, here is a crucial tip: If you're guiding the design and development process for your website, you should make sure that the designer creates a site that can be easily optimized from the very beginning. If your website cannot be easily optimized, however, do not lost hope: your SEO specialist can still perform off-site optimization.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to Convert Website Visitors into Customers

Today's post is the final part of a four-blog series. In three prior posts, we introduced a simple method for inexperienced website owners to manage the process of building and optimizing a website. An easy way to think about building a successful, fully-optimized website is to consider the following tasks, and who might perform them:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

Today we will speak about conversion: the art of transforming website visitors into customers. The purpose of website design, website development, and high-quality content creation is to attract well-informed visitors to your website. But for most websites, attracting visitors is not the final goal. If you hope to run a successful online business, of course, you need to make sure that your visitors purchase your product.

The difference between your daily visitors and  converted visitors will essentially define the success of your online business. In the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) world, this difference is often referred to as the conversion rate: the percentage of visitors who browse a site and perform a desired action. This desired action can be different for different websites.

For a blog like The Organic SEO Blog, for example, the desired action might simply be clicking on multiple posts, writing comments, or following a link to our sponsor: the best-in-the-business organic website optimization company, Stepmans PC.

Did you click that link? Well, then, you've been converted! When you reach the actual site, however, the desired action is different. The desired actions of Stepmans PC's site might include signing up for the SEO newsletter, filling out our "Contact Us" form, or calling Stepmans PC directly.

Stepman PC's founder, Alex Stepman. A personal touch can help convert visitors.

If your website sells a specific product, you're desired action is simple: you want visitors to buy your product. If you're a new website owner, and you've already performed the crucial work of finding a high-quality, artful website designer, an intelligent website developer, and a creative copywriter, then your website might be optimized right now to convert visitors into customers. Your website’s appearance and loading speed, as well as the quality of information, will guarantee that visitors will have no need to navigate to other websites to look for similar products or services.

But! You should not assume that your website's beautiful design, lightning-fast loading speed, and wonderful content is enough to convert visitors. All of this will certainly help, but the final conversion requires a thoughtful strategy to inspire, retain, and maintain customers. To develop a solid-gold strategy, you will ideally work with an Organic SEO professional who will help you analyze your website's analytics.

Most websites are designed and developed with a series of links in mind. A direct-traffic customer will start at the homepage and click several links to find the exact product he or she wishes to purchase. This is how it works for people typing your website's address directly into the toolbar.

But what about people who find your website organically, by typing a word or phrase into Google? Looking at your website's analytics, an Organic SEO professional will help you review the specific pages that receive the most organic visits as well as how these pages convert. Your SEO professional will help you analyze these pages to improve conversion. Perhaps you could add a "Buy Now" widget or a "Customers Also Liked" link. In the end, you want to make sure that navigation to your core selling pages is quick and easy and that the reward of clicking to the next page is clear.

A thoughtful conversion strategy is the final step to creating a fully-optimized website that will attract the customers you deserve! We hope you've enjoyed our fart part series!