The Ultimate Introduction to SEO

Chris Kilbourn
November 5, 2013

This is a guest post by Chris Kilbourn of Fit Marketing.

It’s an understatement to say that search engines are powerful tools. Think about it. Any time you have a question, you probably head to Google for an answer.

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For businesses, search engines are mission-critical web traffic drivers – that’s free exposure for your brand. It’s an opportunity connect with prospective customers when their interest is piqued. That’s powerful.

The problem with search engine optimization (SEO) is that some shady marketers have ruined the space. These folks try to manipulate search engine rankings through artificial techniques like buying links, passing pagerank, and keyword stuffing.

But here’s the thing. Search engines don’t tolerate these practices. If an SEO company promises the moon, don’t be fooled – it’s probably too good to be true.

User Experience Is the Heart of SEO

At face value, SEO can seem a little intimidating. It’s understandable, given how dramatically the space (and search engine algorithms) have evolved over the years.

What’s key is that you stop thinking of SEO like some kind of secret recipe. SEO is, in a nutshell, the practice of building human-to-human relationships.

The first step is a solid SEO strategy is to create a great product and to prioritize user experience. There are dozens of elements that influence SEO. What ultimately brings these components together are Google and Bing’s shared commitment to connecting web users with high-quality results.

Stop chasing algorithms, and prioritize people instead. At the end of the day, you need to win your audience’s heart.

Conversations Give SEO an Extra Edge

In 2013, Google launched its biggest algorithm update in years. It’s called Hummingbird, and it’s inspiring companies to prioritize conversations online. The assumption is that when internet users want information, they want it fast.

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Think of Hummingbird as a change that prioritizes relevance. Google says that it’s developed its most intelligent algorithm ever and is able to connect searchers with highly relevant content.

So what does this change mean for your business?

First and foremost, you need fresh content on your website. Google has a wealth of data about its users preferences and internet browsing habits. The algorithm is designed to deliver personalized, up-to-the-minute, and highly relevant results.

Steps to Take Now

1. Make sure that your existing content is the highest quality possible and designed to engage your users. If it’s not awesome, it shouldn't be on your site.

2. Make sure that your product and solution descriptions are highly detailed. Be informational, but also keep your writing brief.

3. Provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions. Don’t spam your FAQ pages with recycled content. Make sure that it’s informative and high quality. You can use a tool like UserVoice to power this section. As an example, take a look at the knowledge center for Speak2Leads, a tool that helps sales teams respond to new leads in under a minute.

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4. Incorporate rich markup, markup, and authorship markup. Schema and microdata can help search engines better understand what your web pages are communicating.

5. Optimize your site for mobile. Your customers and prospects can be anywhere. When people want information, they want it fast, and they want it to delivered to their fingertips (literally). A mobile strategy will ensure that your website maintains the best user experience possible.

Don’t Chase the Algorithm

Google’s algorithm is always evolving. Don’t sweat it. As long as you’re prioritizing user experience on your website (and not trying to trick users to get by with cheap tricks), you’ll be fine.

SEO is, to a large extent, common sense about forging strategic relationships with customers and prospects. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on keeping your audience as happy and informed as possible.

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