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Search Engine Optimization -- Does It Really Work?

Search Engine Optimization -- Does It Really Work? Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What does it take to improve the visibility of your web page or website in a search engine’s results list? Can you actually improve your search-engine ranking? And, most important, is that what really drives more visitors to your page or site?

A lot has been written about search engine optimization (SEO) and its value as an Internet marketing strategy.

Over the years, of course, search engines have caught on to so-called black-hat techniques, often referred to as spamdexing, which can get a page or site removed from a search engine’s index. So ethical website designers have learned to avoid bad practices like link farming, keyword stuffing and article spinning. And beyond the ethics question, to my knowledge there has never been any clear-cut evidence that such tricks ever really worked without any massaging of the results data.

Legitimate practices for optimizing a web page or site, the so-called white-hat techniques, include backlinking, removing barriers to the search engines’ indexing activities, cross-linking between a website’s pages and URL normalization.

Perhaps the most important technique of all, however, is to create worthwhile content that is truly relevant to your audience and also contains the keywords that your audience is most likely to use in their search queries. Place those keywords on pages, in title tags and in meta descriptions.

In my opinion, content wins, hands down, over other website-based methods of optimizing for search engines. Here’s why:

  • In order to create content that is relevant and useful for your audience, you have to know your audience. This requires research, analysis and thoughtful consideration, not black-hat tricks.
  • To develop keywords that make it easy for your target audience to find your web page or site, you must know how your audience thinks. You’ll probably have to dig a little to figure out which search terms your audience tends to use, run some tests and get feedback.
  • To make your web page or site compelling enough to draw visitors, your content has to be useful, interesting and well written. Great page design and graphics certainly help, but those alone won’t save your site if your visitors decide the content is not worth the trip.
  • Finally, to keep ‘em coming back for more, you must keep your site’s content fresh. So update and tweak as often as needed, which will depend on your company’s overall marketing objectives, the site’s purpose and your audience’s needs.

Gee, it’s beginning to sound as though you might need a marketing plan, isn’t it? Which is exactly where I think SEO belongs: as one part (and only one part) of your marketing plan.

What do you think? Do you use SEO? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

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