One of the great things about growing up with friends you’ve known since school is seeing each other develop from shy, badly dressed (sorry guys!) angsty teens into ‘real’ people: real jobs, real homes and real relationships or in some cases just real dreams and aspirations.
It’s interesting to see who sticks to their plans or how directions change over the years and although none of us ever did tour the world with rock stars (not yet anyway) we have all developed our own individual and very different lives very successfully.
One of my best friends in particular has settled very well into being the most amazing Mum in the world: having grown out of dead-arm fights in maths class, winding up the music teacher and dying her hair bright pink, she has – in the last few years – surprised us all and become the first to settle down, get married and have two beautiful little girls.
A very different life choice to myself, watching her being a Mum leaves me in absolute awe – I don’t have to be a parent to know that taking care of a baby is not an easy job but she seems to manage her workload with cool persistence and dedication.
However, on listening to my colleague tirelessly explaining to a client all about SEO, PPC and how they both work, it dawned on me that our career choices aren’t that different at all. Because that’s all SEO really is:
Search engine optimisation is just a big ol’ baby.
We’ve all seen that rigorous routine that new parents have to contend with – are they hungry? Are they full? Do they need changing? Winding? Are they tired? Are they ill? Are their cheeks red because they have tooth ache – or is it earache? Or are they just being crabby today?It takes time, needs attention and you’re never quite sure which one of the 99 things you did that satisfied it – you’re just pleased that it worked.
It takes ruthless commitment and just when it seems like nothing you do is ever going to work – it does. And all of a sudden, the 99 things all become worth it.
And this is exactly what you have to understand about SEO. We have so many clients who, after just a couple of weeks will demand to know why they are not yet placed at the top of the Google rankings. It’s unfortunately not that simple and this is why SEO is often considered a fine art. Thankfully, just like being a good parent, it’s not impossible and with a little patience and belief, it most certainly can be mastered.
Taking the first steps towards
Search Engine Optimisation
Crawling: So where do you start? Well first things first: your baby…erm, I mean website! Which, of course if you run a business, you should consider as your baby.
If you don’t then I’m afraid you are a bad parent. There, I said it!
Your site should be set up ready for the real world of competitive online business as soon as possible and this means on-site optimisation. You need to find the keywords relevant to your site. So for example, if you sell hand knitted baby jumpers, you will need relevant keywords such as ‘handmade baby jumpers’ or ‘hand knitted baby jumpers’ to appear on your site as much as ‘naturally’ possible. It also helps to have your chosen keywords appear both in your page URLs and as header tags. This way, when the Google spiders are crawling your pages, they will recognise their relevance to those search terms.
Teething: This is where some clients that we work with get confused. There are a lot of factors to depend on when reaching for the top of Google’s rankings and it’s always likely you will have teething troubles because there’s no ‘on’ switch that will take you there. It’s important to remember keyword competition – you may never rank top for certain keywords. For example, you are never going to rank #1 for the word ‘Facebook’ – the competition is just too high.
Also remember that previous ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques that may have been used on your site such as link farming may continue to affect the long-term development of your site. Remember that links are basically a vote for your site and low-quality ones may be working against you. Google webmasters tools allow you have a detailed look at your backlinks, decide which ones you think may be harming your site and remove or disavow them. The Google dance may lead you to believe that you’re doing well, but overall, these kind of links are not so good for longevity. So if you want to dip the dummy in the whisky you may see short term results, but don’t be surprised when it bites back.
Walking: Now that you’ve got your site on the move, prepare for the hard work – this is going to take dedication! SEO has changed a lot over the years – most notably the big steer towards social.
So by all means, get your web content regular and link to it socially, but make sure it’s interesting and relevant to your field. There’s nothing wrong with building quality links to your site – but of course, when learning to walk, you have to take into account the high bounce rate! The importance behind quality content is that you want people to stay on your site for more than a few seconds otherwise the traffic will bounce and become irrelevant.
Images, blogs and videos (if you’ve put in the previous ground work) should get you moving in no time as long as it’s relevant and compelling. If you get the content right, people will share it on the right platforms.
On quizzing my friend on her motherly skills, I asked her how she always seems to know just what to do and I found her answer very significant. She simple replied “Well, when it’s your own, you just know.”
This is a great point too, as your business is YOUR baby. This means you should know your site inside out: you should know your own audience and where their online presence is. If you don’t, you need to find out.
This is how you can begin to look after your own SEO – sure you can get a baby-sitter, but when it comes down to it, nobody knows better than a parent. So get to know your site, look after it and prepare it for the big wide web!