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What You Need to Know about SEO

40 Days of Blogging - Day 16

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a BEAST! There’s really no better word to describe it. Well, it’s also a science, practice, process, task, strategy, and so much more. It changes regularly, can make or break your business, can be really tricky, and can also be a little fun (yep, I really did just say that).

The more I learn about SEO, the more fun it actually becomes. I’m not saying I LOVE the whole practice of optimizing my site and my clients’ sites for SEO, but now that I do know more about it and how it works, it has become a more enjoyable task.

Keep in mind that I am a graphic designer and web designer and developer. I am NOT an SEO expert or specialist. As you’ll see near the end of the list below, it’s really not wise nor realistic to be both a designer/developer AND an SEO specialist.

Below is a list of things to consider when it comes to SEO in 2015. This is my take on it, and since you know there’s so much involved in this science, you also know that this is only a small piece of the SEO puzzle.

OK, here we go…

  • Focus on quality above all. Write compelling, relevant content that your readers will want and need to read.
  • Make your site clean, professional and very easy to navigate. If you make it hard for humans to find something on your site, the search engines will likely have trouble finding it, too.
  • Make sure your site is responsive (meaning, it looks great on all devices). Check out my post on The Difference Between Mobile Websites and Responsive Design here. At this point, responsive design is truly the only way to go. Search Engine Journal talks about the SEO Benefits of Responsive Design here.
  • Don’t become a victim of scammy, spammy SEO “experts.” If someone tells you they’ll get you to the top of the first page in Google searches for $200/month, RUN! Hmmm, unless they are an expert in YOUR field and will be writing amazing, high-quality blog posts for you regularly – and optimizing them with the most appropriate, targeted keywords and descriptions, then maybe you’re onto something. But the chances of this being the case? Slim to none!
  • If you do hire someone to help you with your SEO, make sure you understand exactly what it is they plan to do for you. I did some work for a company a while back, and they said they were working with an SEO “person.” When I looked at their site to do some content tweaks, I noticed that the box that tells Google to NOT index the site was checked. WOW! And they wondered why they weren’t showing up in searches and getting much traffic.

    They biggest takeaway from this scenario is to know exactly what it is that you’re getting from every single person you hire. And that goes for anything – not just SEO. Know where your website is hosted and what type of hosting plan you have; know where your domain is parked; know that your website has a quality, 3rd party backup plugin installed and set up to backup automatically; and make sure you have a security plugin installed and doing what it should be doing to keep out the bad guys. You don’t have to know HOW to manage all of these things – just know WHAT you have and know the very basic purpose of each item associated with your website.
  • Understand that you have to be around for a while before Google and humans start noticing and following you. Just like when a store opens – maybe a few people know to go to it because they drove by it or they happened to see an advertisement for it. But then they tell one friend about it, and that friend goes there…and then they tell someone…and the list goes on. The store usually doesn’t see major success overnight or within a week or sometimes not even within months or a year. It takes time to build a following – both human and “robotic.”
  • Know that SEO is not the end-all, be-all to your success as a business-owner or blogger. Your success is measured by the goals you set for your business/website/blog. If your goal was to net a million dollars this year, and you did (or made even more)…then you were successful. If search results pulled your business up on page 5, that doesn’t mean you failed. It just means your focus was not necessarily on optimizing your website. And maybe that’s not a top goal/priority for you anyway. It all depends on the type of business you have, the goals you set, and what you want to get out of your website/blog and SEO best practices.
  • Web designers/developers are not SEO experts…and vice versa. I know a lot more now than I knew a year ago about SEO. I continue to read up on the topic frequently, and I promise to build a good foundation for all of my clients’ websites. But, I am not an SEO expert or specialist. I do not offer keyword research or even write your content for you. I will advise, guide, implement and follow best practices, and I’ll do my best to help you find an expert to work with.

    A huge thing that most people forget (or don’t know from the get-go) is that the bulk of SEO must come from YOU! YOU know your target audience, YOU write your content, YOU know what you want to happen with your business and your website. SEO is such an intricate science that you wouldn’t want your web designer/developer specializing in it anyway. They’d be spreading themselves too thin. Now, if you’re using a firm that has a dedicated designer/developer and a dedicated SEO specialist, then ok. That’s a different story!
  • To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.

  • Know and accept that just like web design, social media, and technology in general are constantly changing, so is SEO. There’s no one trick or tip that will magically get you to the top of search results. And even if that was the case, it would likely change anyway as the times change. Like most things in life, we have be open to learning new things, evolving, and adapting in order to be successful.

And there you have it – my take on some of the top SEO tips. It’s a never-ending learning and trial-and-error process. So please don’t expect for it to be perfect in the beginning…or ever. Just like your business requires ongoing management and attention, so does your website and its need to be optimized for search engines.

Did I miss any of your favorite SEO tips? If so, tell me about it in the comments below.

Until tomorrow,

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2 comments… add one

  • Julie April 10, 2016

    Within the first week of launching my new site, which Stefani designed, I got a new client that came directly from my site. That never happened with my previous site. My previous site was only ever visited by people who had my business card, or who saw an ad I was running. This post helped me to accept that the search engines are always changing and I need to change and adapt with them, if I want to attract new clients and readers through my website, which I do.

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