May 2013 – Rethinking SEO.

Rethinking SEO: How to Improve Your Site Rankings by Focusing on Your Visitors

Guest post by Chris Harris, web developer and SEO expert

SEO is an important consideration for my work as a web designer and internet marketing consultant. A question that my clients often ask is, “How do I get my site to be #1 in Google?”

In the past, I felt obliged to offer formulaic advice about the location and quantity of targeted keywords and the importance of a healthy link profile.

These things still play a role. However, today, I approach that question with another question: “Why do you want to be in the #1 position in Google?”

The most common answers I hear are to:

  • Increase sales
  • Get more leads
  • Outrank competition

These reasons may seem obvious, but I ask because it leads nicely into my follow-up explanation. Which is: Being ranked #1 in Google does not automatically translate to more sales or leads. And focusing on outranking your competitors can distract you from more important areas of your business.

BUT…

If you focus on providing value for people through your website (and online activities), you will likely generate more leads and sales. Plus, your efforts will align you and your site with Google’s own #1 belief and your rankings can increase because of it. Now, that’s search engine optimization!

So, instead of thinking of SEO as a way to adapt your site to the latest Google search algorithm, put your visitors needs first and the SEO will come naturally.

Here are 3 ways to rethink SEO by focusing on your visitors:

Give your visitors a great experience

Keeping your website error-free and fast loading can make for a better user experience.

  • Decrease page load times.*
  • Use W3C Validator to find errors in your site’s code, then make appropriate fixes.*
  • Use alt attribute for images to accommodate visitors using screen readers.
  • Find and fix broken links on your site.

Visitors will enjoy the speed and ease with which they can navigate around your site.

Search engines will reward you for faster page load times and clean code.

* (If these steps are too technical for your taste, you can hire someone, or ask your site designer to do them.)

Be relevant and attractive 😉

Your website probably serves a specific audience. Let your site content speak directly to them. Use the words that they use, give them what they really want, and exceed their expectations.

  • Use title tags and meta descriptions like a billboard to attract your audience.
  • Use internal links to help visitors find what they are looking for.
  • Update content to be sure it is still relevant and useful.
  • Create valuable content that fulfills the needs of your audience.

Visitors will appreciate your useful information and will be more likely to share your content or a link to your site.

Search engines will reward you for easy “crawlability” and the quality inbound links that can derive from “wowing” visitors.

Build relationships, not social media profiles

Growing your business is about building relationships – and nowhere is that more apparent than in the social media world.  Having a social media profile is not enough on its own. You have to engage and interact with people. That’s where the magic happens.

  • Add social sharing buttons to your site to make your content easy to share.
  • Share the content that you create in social media.
  • Contribute content to blogs related to your industry.
  • Contribute to conversations and answer questions on social platforms. You can even link back to your own site if it is helpful to someone. The key is to really interact with people and not simply broadcast your own messages.

When you do this, your online friends, followers, and fans will be more likely to recommend your business to someone, comment on posts, share your content, or link to your site.

Search engines will reward the social signals resulting from your online activities.

The bottom line is that there is no magic bullet for getting to #1 in Google. But, if you follow the principles outlined above, if you really take them to heart and implement them, you will get what you really want – more leads and sales for your business. And improved search rankings will be an added bonus.

 

Want another serving of  Write Away!?

Fill out the form in the sidebar! You’ll get ideas and more in my free eBook, Get Stuff Out of Your Head and Onto the Page.

 

About the Author

I’m Chris Harris. Web development + SEO are my specialties. I spend my time helping small business owners build an online presence to grow their biz. When I’m not in front of a computer, you might find me behind a camera lens or drum kit. Love: laughing, travel and WordPress. Not a Belieber.

 

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