By now, you've probably heard the buzz about the value of SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) in driving traffic to your website. In fact, some companies have entire positions devoted to building SEO alone! For those who don't have 40 hours a week to meddle with metadata, here's the skinny on the #1 key to building great SEO and how your organization can be more easily found online.
What is SEO?
- SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, that means is getting your site to show up high in search results on serach engines such as Google (ideally, in the top ten or on the first page).
What drives SEO?
- Search engines' have cyber "robots" that crawl the web and rank sites in their search listings. In the old days, these bots were pretty elementary and just looked at keywords to determine what kind of content a site contained. SEO was all about having the right keywords hidden in your site's code.
- However, the bots that search engines send out these days are a lot smarter than they used to be. Rather than relying completely on metadata and keywords, modern search engines can now crawl through your site looking at actual content to determine the value of the information on your site, making searches more accurate, but SEO more complex.
Ok, so that’s SEO… now, can you “turn it on” for me?
- Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as just "turning SEO on". As technology has become more advanced and search engines pay more attention to content, creating great SEO takes much more effort from the people developing your site content.
- Not only do search engines pay attention to your full site content, they also are intelligent enough to rank how other people on the internet interact with your content -- i.e. site visits, link clicks, and how often links are posted to other sites, such as blogs. To help determine what is most relevant to real human beings using search engines, these robots pay attention to how people interact with you content and give more weight to content that provokes reaction and conversation.
- Unfortunately, there is no formula to create human interaction. Because of this, real SEO takes real work and time. You must have consistently good content to bulid a reputation with search engines for being noteworthy, important, compelling and relevant to their users.
So how CAN we get great SEO?
- While you can’t “turn on” the SEO, you CAN turn up the content. Search engines have learned how to understand human interaction and use that to drive their results, so if you have compelling content and you work to share that content to get it in the hands of the people to whom it’s most relevant, you can build up some SEO steam.
- Any time someone tweets a link to your content, shares it on their blog, talks about it on Facebook, or comments on your own website, search engines like Google take note. Your job is to create content that people want to share!
- Real, honest, relevant content is the cornerstone of good SEO. Great SEO requires an engaged audience, who you actively communicate with and who will ignite conversation, share with friends and advocate for your mission! Google notices every conversation, every link, every click and tweet, and knows that if people are passionately talking about you, you -- and your website -- are important.
So the key to SEO is the same as the key to all marketing: great content, compelling stories, timely information, a mission that drives others to action, and the passion to get the message out there.