This is not a guide to SEO, there is plenty of great material to guide you through specific aspects of it. This is my own perspective of SEO marketing based on my personal experience.
A little background, I’m a techie by training and so I have a pretty reasonable understanding of the technical side of things. In short, Search Engine Optimization is the process by which you optimize a web page for a search engine. Pretty simple stuff. You format it properly and make sure the machine that’s about to crawl your site can read it and figure out what’s what. So let the geeks handle it.
Bring the geeks!
The geeks come in and clickity clack.. you got yourself a website with schemas that google likes, meta descriptions for everything, and headings are all labeled. You’re golden. Except, the search engines (and let’s be honest, we only care about google) don’t notice. It crawls and indexes your site, but so what?
They tell you, oh.. you gotta blog. If you blog, google will notice that you’ve been a good boy and rank you higher. Yeah, from #423948234 to #423948230. You blog and no one comes. No one cares.
What’s the point of fancy formatting and hiring geeks if nothing happens? And that’s an actually very good reason to be frustrated. The issue here is that Google cares about how popular you are and so the more popular sites linking back to you, the higher it ranks you. Backlinks are the real stuff of SEO and everything else is just housecleaning.
It’s also an area where many make mistakes, because up to this point, I haven’t said anything that most CEO’s don’t already know one way or another. The issue is, when a very high ranking site links back to you with a branded link (your company’s name links to your website), it doesn’t really do much for you. It improves your domain authority, but it doesn’t help getting you traffic from people who don’t already know they’re looking for you.
Just because you’re blogging about eye tracking technology doesn’t mean that google will start directing traffic to you. Only when people link to your pages using phrases with “eye tracking” (or a similarly relevant phrase) in it will you start seeing that kind of traffic. And for that to happen, people have to already be talking about you, a lot. Organically.
Which hat fits me best?
Aaah.. so what’s going on here? Hiring an ‘SEO guy’ is not going to solve this problem, neither is yelling at your IT team. There are 3 ways you can approach this:
1) Black hat: You will find those on freelancer marketplaces, where one advertises linking to you from DA50+ sites or something like that. DA here stands for Domain Authority, and the number following is the level of authority a domain has. Higher is better. Problem with black hats is that they get flagged as spammy, which hurts your own domain’s authority. It may have some temporary good boosts, but ultimately, the algorithm figures it out and shuts you down. What you often find are domains with pages hidden deep under that no one clicks on, with links to you and every other sucker paying for the service. Just don’t do it.
2) White hat: This is where people in the legal profession likes to live. Technically legal, but ethically debatable practices are fun to debate in college but they are real life. Here, you pay someone to go out and have other legitimate sites create very organic looking backlinks. For example, a blog post about eye tracking technology from a major privacy blog casually linking back to one of your pages as they talk about “eye tracking service”. This is expensive, but highly effective.
3) Do the work: There is no substitute to doing the work and engaging with your customers, creating a community that will compound your efforts. But getting there takes a lot of work and if you’re in a hurry, there are “hats” to approach.
Now that you have backlinks and you start seeing traffic, it’s very bouncy. That is, a visitor clicks on a backlink, sees your page and decides this is not what they’re looking for and leaves. Here’s the thing, you can’t bring people over and then not know what to say to them. If your site has nothing to engage with, visitors will bounce.
Creating content that answers visitors questions is a process of trial and error. It also takes us full circle to what it means to have an SEO strategy. It has so little to do with the technical structure of website, doesn it? It’s a lot of work that takes 6 months to even start seeing movement, but it is a compounding effort.
Everyone loves compounding, but you gotta get started.