SEO Is A “Practice” Like Medicine, Not A Science

Every Wednesday on Twitter there’s something that goes on that originated here in the Syracuse area. It’s called Community Manager Chat, and it’s actually geared towards people who handle the social media processes at their particular companies, or for someone else. I get to be a part of it because social media is my thing, or at least a big part of my thing. If you ever decide to participate it’s at 2PM Eastern time, and you use the hashtag #cmgrchat to follow along.

Searching by Josh Heilaman

Last Wednesday the topic of discussion was blogging, which y’all know I thrive on. It was actually the second week on the topic because it seemed like it was very popular and there were so many questions being asked. I answered a bunch of questions, and on that day and the day after I got a bunch of new followers; I could see that a lot of people were interested in what I had to share.

Anyway, what happens is that one of the moderators throws out a question every 15 minutes or so, then the responses fly out. One of the questions asked what people did for SEO on their blogs. I stated that my SEO strategies are to write as much content as I can and to, for the most part, write about certain types of topics more often than going off the grid. I actually do that if you check my centennial stat posts from time to time.

As normal, there were a few people who went into the direction of having to not only write niche blogs, but to make sure to stuff your posts with keywords and keyword phrases so they could be found easier on the search engines. I read that stuff all the time and for the most part I think it’s garbage. After all, if I write 100 posts on roses and suddenly decide to stuff a post with the phrase “brown picture frames”, it’s not really going to mean anything to anyone, including the search engines. Those 100 posts on roses are going to fare way better.

After seeing some of those posts, I wrote the line that this post is based on: SEO is a “practice” like medicine, not a science. It got retweeted a bunch of times; I think people liked that phrase a lot.

And of course I believe it’s true. There are a lot of great SEO practices, which I’ve even talked about on this blog, but the truth is that not every website is going to end up on the first page of Google or any other search engine just because one’s site is optimized well. If you decided today that your goal was to be in the top 10 for the term “shoes” you probably won’t have a chance unless you can produce close to 900 pages of blog posts in a year or so. That’s because there are so many people already writing on that same topic that have beaten you to the punch. You can get creative to find your little niche in that group and that might put you on the first page; otherwise, you just need to be the best you can be and hope to compete in another way.

SEO is like medicine because it’s really a guessing game after a certain point. Doctors guess all the time as to what’s wrong with us. I bet every person who reads this post knows someone who had a doctor tell them “I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” or something to that effect. I’ve heard it myself. And these people go to school for 8 years, then do 2 or 4 years of clinical before they’re allowed to be out on their own; I don’t know anyone who’s truly been doing SEO for more than 7 years or so.

Does this mean one shouldn’t try to be as effective as possible in trying to get their blogs to perform well on the search engines? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that one shouldn’t kill themselves trying to write the perfectly optimized post every time out. To me, based on history, one gets way more juice by trying to put out as much good content as they can. That’s always my goal when I decide to write a post, no matter what the topic is on.

Trust me, there’s really nothing wrong with practicing; you might not end up being a concert pianist like Andre Watts, but you could be Liberace, and he made a lot of money in his lifetime.

Delicately Carved Wooden Handle Magnifying Glass and Letter Opener Set 10″

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

Top Five SEO Tips

I would never consider myself an expert at search engine optimization, but I will call myself a specialist in the field. I make the differentiation this way; if you’re an expert, then every single thing you do is geared towards showing off that expertise. A specialist means that it’s something you do, you’re good at it, and people pay you for it, but there are times when you don’t go to extremes in getting it done.

How to seo a website
Creative Commons License SEOPlanter via Compfight

I don’t spend my time on this blog trying to figure out how to make it more SEO friendly. I want my blog to be more conversational and friendly, or at least to show my personality. That’s what blogs are for, and I know I’m not the only one who goes to some blogs and, no matter what the topic is, gets bored almost immediately because the language is too dry. I was even reading a blog earlier today where someone was pimping this article writing software; yeah, that will give you lots of content, but now boring is that for a blog?

However, when it comes to regular websites, doing SEO is essential to getting your site found in some fashion by the search engines. I introduced some SEO issues as it pertained to multiple web pages. Now I’d like to give you my top five SEO practices that every website needs to address, though not necessarily blogs:

1. Title. Every web page should create a title tag in the “head” area, which is the top area before you start creating the website, and also the very top left area of your browser (most people don’t think about it, but if you look at the very top of your browser on every website you go to you’ll see some words at the very top). Most people who remember to add a title tag usually put the name of their business there, which isn’t all that bad a thing, but it’s not all that helpful if it’s the only thing you put up there. For instance, if your business was called “Blue Consulting”, and that’s what you put in your title tag, so what? Unless people know your business name, that’s not going to help people find your business to help them, or to purchase from you, and if they know your business name then you don’t need your business name in the title to begin with.

I want you to put your business name in the title tag, but after you put some keywords there first. Best practice is to only have 8 keywords there, but you can get away with 8 keywords, then your business name, if you separate your business name with “-“. However, don’t put in “and”, “the”, or any other little insignificant words in the title tag; grammar isn’t important up there, advertising is. Check out the title area of my main business site to see how I’ve optimized my title area.

2. Description. This is considered a “meta” tag, which means something that gives some kind of indication of something your website or page is about. In this case, the description tag is what people will see on the search engines when they go searching for something. If you don’t have a description and people find you, they will only know your keywords for your page, but have no idea what your article or webpage really is about. However, with a description, you get an opportunity to have a stellar first line that people will see, and not have it necessarily be the first line of your page or article.

3. Keyword phrases. Yeah, everyone talks about this in some fashion, but that’s because it’s important. It can work with blogging, but trying to integrate them and still look organic can be an issue. However, with websites, it’s one of the most important things you can do to insure you’ll be found for terms you’re hoping people find you for. For instance, one of the main terms I want to be found for in my main business is “chargemaster consultant” (don’t worry about it if you don’t know what that is). If you look for that term on Google, my site will always come up in the top 5, most of the time either one or two.

The important thing to know in this day and age is that you will NOT be found for one word keywords anymore. Those have been taken up by older websites, and you’re just not going to get through without a miracle. But certain keyword phrases, you will have a chance to rank for. But sometimes you just might have to be creative. There are plenty of keyword tools you can use, but I tend to want to figure out things on my own because if I’ll come up with a search term, I figure someone else will also.

4. Hx Tags.

Hx tags are what search engine spiders go looking for to determine what your particular webpage is all about. On blogs, at least with the WordPress software, your post title is always captured within H1 tags, which may or may not be a good thing. Some people are very conscious of what they title their posts at all times, in which case that’s a good thing. Others, like me, don’t always care, so my H1 tag isn’t always doing me the best good.

But on websites in general, more often than not I notice that the creator has forgotten to add them, which just makes it harder for search engines to know what you’re talking about on the page. Sure, you can optimize with keyword phrases, but the H1 tag is automatically looked for, then the spiders look through the page to make sure that’s exactly what the page is all about. Hx tags can go as far as H5, but the most important is H1, obviously followed by H2; the rest aren’t as important, though they all help in some fashion. One thing you do need to know, though, is that they’ll automatically alter both the size of the font, but the spacing between word, so you can’t insert H1 tags within your content because you’ll jump through hoops trying to figure out how to get everything to align properly later on, and you’ll probably fail. Instead, use these tags as titles within your webpages.

5. Multiple pages on a topic, optimized independently. In my other article on multiple web pages, I talked about how they can be used for marketing purposes. In this case, I’m talking about using multiple pages to help with the optimization process. For instance, I talked above about how my business site ranks highly for the search term “chargemaster consultant.” Well, it’s not because I have it listed on only my main page. I have multiple pages that talk about different things related to that term. Some are articles; some are index pages; and there’s at least one link on my site tied in to my biography page. I’ve also gone the extra step of having the term “chargemaster” or “charge” as part of the webpage link, which is pretty important in SEO discussions also, but in my opinion not in the top five, so it only gets a brief mention here. This is why it’s important sometimes for business sites to have more than one page, or even more than four or five pages. The more pages you can have that help identify what you can do, especially if you provide more than one service in your business, the more opportunities you give yourself to be found for not only your search terms, but for more terms across the board.

I hope those five tips give you some significant information you can use for your website, and also helps to show you why a couple of the prizes in my little contest are worth the cost I’m claiming they are. Good luck with it all; of course, if you need professional assistance, I’m always available for consulting. 🙂

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010-2012 Mitch Mitchell