Like a lot of things – basically everything other than, well, rocket science – SEO isn’t rocket science. In fact, 80% of it is easy to understand and easy to implement. Of course, you only really see tangible results if you get all or most of the last 20% right.
Here are some SEO basics and how not to mess them up.
No SEO Effort
If you haven’t done any keyword research, how can you have any idea whether your using the terms that your audience is most likely to use when they’re searching for the kinds of products or services you offer? You can’t, so your site never gets found because there’s no-one searching for that cool, hip, very personal terminology you use to describe your offerings. That’s the 80% and it’s a gimme. If you want to worry about the last 20%, you can A/B test keywords like “SEO Basics” vs. “SEO 101.” Which should I have used in this post’s title?
Too Much SEO Effort
Attracting the audience only to lose them because your site is painful to read is a real shame, but it happens all the time. Yes, you want to use appropriate keyword phrases, but you want to use them, ahem, appropriately. If the site reads awkwardly or sounds like a late-night infomercial, back off. That’s the 80% that’s a gimme. The last 20% – fretting over keyword density and your content’s word count.
Focusing on Links, Meta Data and Things Other Than Content
Yes, you want links. And meta data still has (some) value, but if you’re primary concern is anything other than content, you’re sunk. That’s th 80% gimme. Want to nail the last 20%? Invest the time to find your audience’s pain points and create content that addresses them.
Forgetting The Technology
Yes, I just said that content is the top of the pyramid, the area you have to be most concerned about. But don’t forget that this is a technology-based medium. You have to get the technology right. That means making sure your site is easily crawlable by the search engines. So, no Flash. And that little checkbox in your CMS that says, “Discourage search engines from visiting this site” – make sure it isn’t checked. (Yes, we’ve clicked that accidentally. Don’t ask.) That’s the 80%. The final 20% is tweaks to things like page loading times that the search engines factor into your site’s strength.