Everyone with a website wants to know the secrets to getting to the top. “How can I be sure that my website comes up when someone searches for _____?” is a question I hear frequently. And there is no shortage of advice on exactly what you must do for that success in search.
However, it really boils down to three truths that haven’t failed for SEO since I’ve been making websites starting in 1998.
1. There is no magic formula. You need to determine the right mix of activities for your business.
It’s so attractive and seductive to think that one trick or technique, one special software solution, or one particular plan of action will result in top search listings. I hear it all the time. You may have heard of some of these suggestions:
- Get on Facebook.
- Use meta tags on your website.
- Use keywords.
- Get links to your website.
There’s nothing wrong with each of these suggestions. They each can play a positive role in your SEO plan. But each one alone is not enough. And each one alone may not work for you. For example, are your customers on Facebook or LinkedIn? So be wary of anyone or any business who tries to sell you on their winning formula. It won’t work in the long run.
The key is to find the right tools that you are willing and able to work with—the ones that attract your potential customers.
2. Don’t rely on your website to do all the work for you.
You can’t build a website and expect people to find you online. You also can’t place a few keywords here and there and wait for sales to roll in. Indeed, there are things that a good web designer or developer can and should do to help your website be indexed by search engines, but it’s no longer enough. Success in search results is influenced by what happens off of the website as much as what happens on it. (Here’s a helpful analogy: Brochures themselves won’t bring in new business; you have to work to get them in the right hands before they help generate leads for you.)
3. Give your potential customers what they want.
Time and again, I caution folks to be careful not to focus on what will make their websites top the search listings; instead, the focus should be on giving potential customers what they are looking for. Successful businesses continually update their websites with fresh, relevant, useful, interesting, entertaining, or otherwise compelling content (text, photos, interactive elements) that keep customers coming back. Likewise, they keep the same focus on their social media and other marketing avenues. Their Pinterest boards feature beautiful photos of new products or inspiration; their Facebook pages post news, research, or fascinating facts; their blogs feature new uses for their products.
The key here is that all this content is so compelling that it is shared among your target audience. If someone finds your Facebook post interesting, they may share it on their own profile, which passes your message on to others. That’s what matters to Google, Bing, and other search engines: Your content is good enough to share.
As I’ve seen and shared since 1998, if you figure out what it is your potential customers are looking for and give it to them, success will follow. Find out what marketing avenues will work for you and your customers, and get busy. Treat your website like a marketing tool, not a marketing miracle, and give it the ongoing attention it needs. This persistence will pay off with better search results.