Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I’m No SEO Expert

You read that subject line correctly, I’m no SEO expert. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, for one reason or another, I really can’t call myself an SEO expert. SEO experts sit around doing expert things, you know, like going to conferences and speaking on expert-filled panels, penning white papers on the newest Google algorithm, and guest posting to industry sites like SEOmoz. Intentionally, I engage in none of the above.

If I’m not an SEO expert, and I’ve been advising clients for the better half of a decade on the subject, what in the hell am I? A loner? Outcast? Random dude with a laptop? All are at least somewhat true. But when it comes down to SEO, and what I do for people, what am I? Could I be a practitioner? That has a ring to it. Maybe I am a practitioner. Yes, that definitely sums it up, I am a practitioner of SEO. The whole reason I can’t find time for the expert panels, or the guest posts on Mashable is because I’m too busy actually working on SEO campaigns for our growing client list.

As a practitioner I don’t have to base my advice for clients on theory, I base it on experience-derived facts. Why should this be of importance to you? Well, if you care about your SEO rank, then you might care about how to improve it. If you care about improving it, I am your guy, since I’ve worked with a lot of companies to successfully do the same. As a practitioner of SEO I’ve found a few things to be true, hopefully these ideas will help spark some initiatives to jumpstart your own online marketing and search rank efforts.

SEO is Cheaper Than Google AdWords

In the last 24 months Google AdWords has cost my company roughly $80,000. That’s a lot of money, and spending around 40k a year, from all the conversations I’ve had with others, isn’t that much compared to most industries. Today we spend nothing to acquire customers, and while overall email volume is down a bit, our sales aren’t that much affected by the self-imposed AdWords blackout. How do most customers find us? Google organic search.

For the vast majority of web businesses today ranking for the terms people actually search isn’t as hard as they might think. It takes focus, it takes discipline, and ironically it often takes a Google AdWords campaign to kick things off in order to learn the keywords people actually click when searching their business online.

Whatever the case, if you give me half of what you spend on AdWords I’m sure there is a way to get you ranking for a long time to come for your most sought after keywords. Remember, Google AdWords penalizes your business daily by charging you money for every click someone makes, SEO efforts are meant to secure your keyword placement for many years to come no matter the amount of clicks your business achieves, often without a single new campaign once the initial plan has been executed. This is a dirty little secret in the SEO industry, you don’t always need to have an ongoing campaign to stay ranked for your given keyword terms, once you are ranked, chances are it’ll take someone else just as long as it took you to overturn those results, if not longer.

Quality Content Reigns Supreme

I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’ve been so fortunate with my own SEO efforts, other than to say it has as much to do with producing quality content as anything else. Creating content people will want to read, talk about, and eventually share can make a big difference. I’ve never used an article spinner for a single page of content for any of my own SEO campaigns, and while a few keyword terms remain elusive for us, most of what we want to rank for we already rank for. Quality content means a lot when it comes to SEO.

Search Rewards The Persistent

As with quality content, you also want to produce a large quantity of it. Believe it or not, ranking in Google is 99% a numbers game. The more quality content you produce that attributes links back to your site from others, the more likely you will rank for the keyword terms featured in that content. In other words, the more articles you have written and submitted, the more links your site gets, the more your site eventually has a likelihood for ranking for whatever keyword term is important to your business.

I could go on and on, obviously, but I won’t. My point is simply that after working on thousands of SEO campaigns, it all boils down to a few single principles listed above. By simplifying your SEO efforts, you can narrow down on where you want to go easier, implement an effective campaign with less confusion, and one day be able to share the same lessons with other businesses as yours sits atop the heap for all the keywords that matter to your business.


Robyn McMaster, PhD said...

Clark, you have so many good ideas based on your experiences that teach us all. Your wisdom shines in different windows.

Clark Covington said...

Thanks Robyn, I appreciate your kind words.

Mubashir Shafi said...

Outstanding, the post is really the sweetest on this worthwhile topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your approaching updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the exceptional clarity in your writing. I SEO Expert will immediately grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates.