By: Sean Tambagahan, Operations Manager Butler Web and Design
Every business wants to have better search engine rankings; however, most don’t want to do what it takes to get there. When I consult with clients about their web development needs, the topic of SEO inevitably comes up. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s a service that web developers offer their clients in order to give them better rankings on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
The questions are usually formed like this: “I want that top position on Google… how much does that cost?” “How can you get me seen at the top of Yahoo and Bing?” “How much do you charge to make sure we’re seen at the top of search engines?” Those are good questions. However, the way they’re asked reveals a misunderstanding of the way search engine optimization works. If you have asked these questions, it shows that you may believe the Magic SEO Button Fallacy.
The Magic SEO Button Fallacy is this:
“Getting higher rankings on search engines is available to the highest bidder; therefore, if the price is right, I can pay a web developer to push the magic SEO button for my website, giving me higher rankings on search engines than my competitors.”
Unfortunately, those who believe this to be true are wrong. This is largely due to the fact that sleazy SEO thugs make a living by lying to people – getting them to think that they can pay enough money to get the top position on search engines.
Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate and honest SEO companies out there who get a bad rap because of the boiler room hustlers who only care about getting your money.
The biggest downfall of the Magic SEO Button Fallacy is that it makes you think that it’s up to the web developer to do all of your content creation in order to get better search engine rankings. It allows the client to pass the buck to the web developer so that if they’re not seen on the first page of Google, it’s the web developer’s fault! Again, this is not necessarily true.
These techniques worked, and sometimes still do. However, search engines are now trained to detect if a site is implementing these techniques. If the crawlers sense that you are trying to manipulate your content to get higher rankings (rather than providing good, quality content that people want to see), then they will penalize you with lower rankings.
What’s the Key? Search engines keep the searcher in mind; therefore, the key is to create content that searchers want to see. What do searchers want to see?
Here are some words you need to familiarize yourself with:
Basically, you want to create your content in such a way that it will shock and wow its viewers so much that they’ll want to share it with others. You want your content to be informative enough to where people who view it are satisfied with their search results and feel no need to do another search.
What Is a Search Engine’s Job?
In a nutshell, a search engine’s job is to search for content on the internet based on a searcher’s request, and list all of the information related to the search query in order of most relevant first. The position of the content the search engine lists is called the rank. The higher you are in the list of content, the better ranking you have.
Search engines only care about ranking the best, most relevant content that searchers want to see. They are not interested in what you are willing to pay.
How Do Search Engine’s Work?
Search engines use programs called spiders (or crawlers). They are designed to crawl the web searching for content that they think is relevant to a search query.
There are a number of complex algorithms search engine crawlers use to retrieve this information and rank it properly. I will spare you the confusing explanation of how they work, because that’s not what’s most important. What’s most important to know is that they are designed to give higher rankings to the best content (content that people like to see), and give lower rankings to the not-so-good content. Therefore, if you design your content for the people searching for the information, you will get better rankings. If you try and design your content for the search engines, you are likely to get lower rankings.
Don’t Spam Your Website
The key is to not try and manipulate the search engines to rank your content higher, because they are “trained” to detect content manipulation. It’s often referred to as “spamming” your site. The old school way of SEO included “spammy” techniques like:
- Load your content with a ton of keywords
- Add a bunch of links to your content
Search Engines know:
- How many people view your site
- How many people leave your site after the first page
- How long people stay on your site
- How much content people are looking at on your site
- How much content is shared from your site
- How many people do a new search after looking at your site
What search engines have done is they’ve found a way to take this data, and incorporate it into their algorithm, ensuring that the best sites (the sites that people go to, browse through, read and share the content) get higher rankings.
Questions You Need To Ask:
- Is my content unique?
- Is my content informative?
- Is my content easy to understand?
- Is my content laid out easy enough for a third grader to browse through?
- Is my content visually stimulating?
- If I read my content for the first time, would I want to share it with others?
You need to be able to answer “yes” to all of those questions, because it could determine your ranking on search engines. When you look at these requirements for search engine friendly content, you need to ask yourself one final question:
Who is best qualified to create this content?
Undoubtedly, you are! No one knows your business, your industry, and your niche, better than you! No one knows the struggles, the conquests and the secrets better than you! So why would you want to leave it up to a web developer to create search engine friendly content?
There are typically two reasons people want to leave it up to a web developer to create their content:
(1) they don’t want to do it themselves, or (2) they don’t know where to start. If you don’t want to write content for your website yourself, I would really question how badly you want a good, informative, search engine friendly website. As I stated in the beginning – every business wants to have better search engine rankings; however, most don’t want to do what it takes to get there. If you don’t want it bad enough to do some of the leg-work yourself by creating content, then that’s okay… just don’t expect to get higher rankings on search engines, and don’t try to pass the blame on the web developer. If, however, you are part of the second group of people who just don’t know where to start, or what content to write, here are a couple of starting points.
- Make FAQ’s – what are the top 10-20 questions you have answered over a hundred times in the last 5 years? Write down those questions, jot down some detailed answers, and turn them into your website’s FAQ’s page.
- Write down the industry secrets – you don’t have to give away your business secrets that your competitors would want to know. Rather, write down the industry secrets that most people don’t know but should if they want to learn about your industry.
Most people know more than they think they do about their industry; it’s just a matter of getting what’s in your head onto paper.
So in summary, it’s crucial to your web development endeavors to understand that there is no such thing as a magic button you press to get better rankings on search engines. Search engines are designed to detect content manipulation, penalizing sites that try to intentionally get better rankings by loading them with keywords and links instead of providing good content. In order to get better rankings, you need to provide better content. Better content is simply content that people like to look at, share, and revisit.
If you have any questions, want more information about web development, or if you would like a free consultation on website standard practices, contact Butler Web and Design at 559-797-3414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.