6 (common sense) things that you should know about SEO

July 29, 2010

Here at RackNine we are asked on many occasions impossible things like “Get my website on the first page of search results, by next week at the latest. Use any available technique you know of”.

I have explained on countless occasions that there’s no such thing as effective Black Hat SEO, no matter how much money you pour into it. But sure there is something called Blacklisting from Search Engines.

Only a fool would ever dream of fooling Google and its team of top-notch engineers. The best (and only) effective way to go is by building an honest and down-to-earth SEO campaign, keeping always in mind the 6 common sense SEO facts listed below courtesy of Axandra.

* Please note that this article is about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), not about SEM (Search Engine Marketing).

1. SEO takes time

You cannot optimize your website today and expect results tomorrow or next week. Search engine optimization takes time. Search engines have to find your new optimized pages, they have to find the new links to your website, they have to update the index, etc.

2. You must change your web pages

If you want to get high rankings for certain keywords, then these keywords must appear on your web pages. It is possible to get high rankings for a keyword that is not listed on your website if lots of other websites link to your website with that keyword. That’s the exception, though.
In general, the keywords for which you want to be found must appear on your web pages and they must appear in the right elements on your web pages. For that reason, you have to change the HTML code of your web pages to make it as easy as possible for search engine spiders to parse your site.

3. You need links and you need the right links

Good back-links are the key to high rankings on Google. Automatically created back-links usually won’t help your rankings and they even might get you banned from Google’s index.
As a general rule, the easier it is to get a link, the less is its influence on the position of your website on Google. The links to your website should be from related websites and they should contain your keywords in the link text.
The more attractive your website is, the easier it will be to get good links. Your website should offer link-worthy content that other people can talk about.

4. It’s crucial to choose the right keywords

If you optimize the website of a rock band than you might think that it would be cool if their site was found for the keyword “mp3”. That might be cool but it does not make sense.
People searching for “mp3” can be interested in anything: mp3 players, mp3 decoders, the latest Justin Bieber song, general information about the file format, etc. If these people come to your rock band website, they won’t find the information they are looking for.
Optimize your website for keywords that attract the right kind of people. For example “unsigned rock band” or “rock band London”.

5. You must be realistic

Getting on the first result page for a highly competitive keyword such as “mp3” is possible but your competitors will be old and established websites with a lot of back-links. It is very difficult to outrank these pages.
If you have a website with just a few pages and your competitors have large websites with forums, communities, blogs, etc. then you must improve your website if you want to compete. Search engines want to show the best sites on the result pages.
If you absolutely want to get high rankings for a term such as “mp3”, start with less competitive keywords and then proceed to the more competitive terms. Search engines must trust your website before they give you high rankings for very competitive keywords.

6. You must set the right goals

Search engine optimization is not about getting a high Google PageRank (the green bar in Google’s toolbar). It is about getting high listings for the right keywords so that the right people will come to your website. The goal of search engine optimization is to increase your sales.
You don’t have to be listed for any possible keyword even if they are related to your business. You have to be listed for keywords that will bring buyers to your site. It usually takes some time to find the best keywords for your website. Running PPC ads and tracking their conversions will help you to find the best keywords.

Search engine marketing