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Four basics to understand about SEO

We all want our sites to rank better in Google.  No matter how we’ll you’re ranking now, a little bit more would be a good thing, right?  You can do that with a bit of SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”), but much of that process is misunderstood.

Nick Stamoulis recently wrote a great article for Search Engine Journal titled “4 Things New Site Owners Need to Understand About SEO” which is worth reading and diving into a bit.

His points:

1. SEO is Long Term

We can do some great things to help improve your SEO, but it’s not going to happen overnight.  If your site is brand new, it’ll take even longer (Google doesn’t really trust new sites for a while).  If done properly, you should see slow, steady growth that eventually will turn into solid numbers.

A good example is right here on the GreenMellen site.  As we began to blog more frequently and produce more quality content, our traffic has risen nicely.  Here is a month-by-month chart of our visitors in 2012:


It’s been solid growth, but it has a long way to go.  We’ll continue to write solid content and hopefully 2013 will continue to show that upward trend.

2. Always Put Your Visitors Before the Search Engines

You’ve seen sites like this before: “We sell red widgets, because red widgets are great, so if you’re looking for red widgets you should purchase your red widgets from the best red widget company around“.  It’s ugly, and really not very effective anymore anyhow.  Always think of your visitors before you worry about keywords and search bots.  Even if you find some great way to trick Google into sending more visitors to your site, they’ll be immediately turned off by content like the example above.

Taking it further, if users find your content to be truly valuable, they’ll be more likely to link to it and share it on social sites — which is much more beneficial for the long term SEO of your site.

3. There is No Secret to SEO Success

backlinksI get emails every week that tell me “your site isn’t ranking for the keywords you need” and that XYZ SEO Company can save the day.  They can’t.

In addition, there are many products online that offer things like “10,000 backlinks for $49.99”.  There are two big problems with offers like that:

  1. 99% of those links are generated as spam comments in blogs and forums, which are quickly removed by the site owners.
  2. The remaining links look very suspicious to Google and will likely hurt your rankings more than they’ll help.

We’re not going to get you to the top of Google in a week, and no one else will either.  Even some of our clients who saw tremendous growth over the course of a year still saw it happen a little bit at a time.

If you discover any kind of shortcut to SEO success, you can rest assured that spammers have milked it to death and Google is well aware of the technique.  Best case they’ll simply ignore your efforts; worst case, you could find your site removed from the search results completely.

4. Link Building is Forever

While the example of “10,000 backlinks for $49.99” is certainly a bad thing to do, building backlinks (getting other sites to link over to yours) is still very important in the eyes of Google.  They main key here is to take it slow and steady.  Don’t try to build 500 links at once and then let it ride; continually be looking for places to get links quality as you meet new people.

Finding places from which to get quality inbound links can be difficult, but here are a few places to start:

  • Organizations like local Business Associations or the Chamber of Commerce.  Most of these places allow you to create a member profile on their site, which can include a link back to your site.  Voila!
  • Your clients.  An example might be if the client writes a blog entry about the great service you provided them (new website, new landscaping, new office location), encourage them to link over to your site if they didn’t do it already.
  • Your suppliers.  Many companies like to list the companies they work with on their website.  Make sure that if they mention you they include a link over to your site.

If you write quality blog content, you should ideally pick up a lot of links organically as well.  A good example is Nick’s blog that we’re referencing in this post — we’ve included a link to it at the top and bottom of our post.

SEO is a complicated concept when you dig in deep, but if you stick to the basics you’ll do amazingly well.  Be sure to check out Nick’s full post to read more about each of these concepts.

What are other aspects of SEO that new site owners tend to miss?

Better yet, where are more places to keep your eyes open for building inbound links?

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

View Mickey's Profile

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