If you’re thinking about setting up a website do not spend time reading articles or joining forums about search engine optimization (commonly referred to as SEO).
Now that’s probably a pretty rich statement to be put in an article about precisely that subject, so I’ll explain what I mean.
The very fact you’re going to create a website means that you want people to visit it – no point opening up shop and having no one popping in. Whether you’re creating a website for a small organization or for a major concern, unless you just want family and friends to see it you’re going to have to find a way to get it noticed.
In the world of the internet, this means being found on search engines so that when someone searches for 10-inch widgets your site shows up pretty high in the search results so that they choose to come to your site to see what you have to offer.
So how do you get your website up high in the results? Surely that means studying the art of SEO and learning the skills of keyword stuffing, getting backlinks, article writing, blog posting etc etc etc? Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people go wrong. The resulting website may be technically correct but won’t get you any visitors.
Although there are others, Google is a good measure of what gets you pole positions on any major search engines. Google is constantly refining how it ranks websites, and its goal is to promote websites that answer users search queries in a meaningful way. To do this they try to weed out websites which exists simply to get large amounts of traffic with the aim of making as much money as possible. Obviously making money is the important factor for most websites, but only a few years ago people constructed websites to a formula. These sites contained very little genuine useful information and were little more than portals for adverts and could be replicated easily making money for their owners, but not often creating a useful user experience.
If a person is searching for information on 10-inch widgets, they don’t expect their first result from the search engine to be a list of adverts for other sites which vaguely refer to the search term. They might want to find a site selling them, or a site explaining what they are. Google want to make sure people use Google as their search engine, so they want to make sure that users get useful, meaningful results for their search terms. As well as using algorithms, Google also employs people who manually check the search results brought up by various search terms.
So, what do you do to make sure your site is one that Google will want to give a high ranking
too? If your site is on a unique subject then your job is easier as you won’t have too much competition – you will have a much harder job if the subject matter of your site is going to put your competition at hundreds of thousands. It’s not impossible, but you will need to put more thought into it.
The first lesson to learn is that CONTENT IS KING. If you cannot express your thinking in words, if you cannot write grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs and cannot spell (you can’t always depend on the spellchecker!) then unless you have a partner working with you who can, you will not get far with producing a successful website. You have to have unique content on your website – although you can re-publish articles such as this one (with the correct credits back to the original author), reproduced articles should not be the whole content of your site. Even if the subject matter of your site is the same as hundreds or thousands of others, if you can find a new way to present that information then you will have a better chance of rising above a lot of your competitors in those all important search engine results. A successful website takes thought and a lot of very hard work. The days of making money on the internet for very little effort have long gone.
So why haven’t I mentioned keywords? If you are writing about a subject naturally, your keywords will probably fall into place as a matter of course. In fact, by not doing keyword analysis you may well find you have stumbled on a combination of words which are often searched, but relatively unique. It is important that any written content on your site flows, and is easy to read for a human – visitors won’t stay long on a page which is so stuffed with keywords that it’s hard to understand any points being made. However, once you have written your content it can be useful to check on the keywords you are using, and find if there are any variations that could attract more traffic.
Make your website for a human being, not to with the search engine results page in mind, and you’ll have visitors who stay on your site longer as it’s interesting (Google like sites that people stay on, rather than realizing quickly there’s nothing interesting there and moving away). Visitors may well advertise your site for you – adding a Facebook Like button, or Google +1 button allows visitors to alert their friends to the great content on your site.