Location: Seattle, WA

What SEO Is All About

What SEO Is All About

If you’ve had any connection to online marketing over the last 15 years, you’ve heard the term “SEO” bandied around.  Maybe you know it has something to do with the search engines, but not the details.  In this post I’m going to explain it in more detail.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, simply refers to a series of steps you take to optimize your site to maximize receiving relevant traffic through the search engines.  The operating word is relevant traffic.  It doesn’t do anyone any good to get a lot of traffic to their website if the people who are visiting the site are not potential paying clients, or at least may be one day.

It’s not (only) about coming up first in a search engine

There is a great example I use to explain this from my time as the webmaster for Antioch University Seattle.  Antioch is a wonderful university, with unique, high quality programs.  One of those programs (which sadly, no longer exists) was the Master’s degree program in Whole Systems Design. It was a fantastic program, highly unique.  If anybody in the entire world would type “master’s in whole systems design program” into a google search, we would turn up as the number one result in the search… Great, right?

Well no… it doesn’t do anyone any good if you come up first in a search… if nobody ever searches for that specific phrase!  If you don’t return a high search result FOR THE ACTUAL PHRASES THAT YOUR TARGET MARKET TYPES INTO GOOGLE WHEN THEY ARE SEARCHING FOR A PRODUCT SUCH AS YOURS, then the return on your website investment will be very small insofar as attracting new clients.

What keyphrases does your target market use to search for you?

Does that make sense?  Let’s break it down a little… In this example, the truly important thing is to ensure that the people in the world who are searching for a program like the MA in Whole Systems Design will actually find it when they search in google.  To get to that, you must first research what are the keyphrases real people use who are searching for a unique systems thinking graduate program.  So, what exact phrases do they actually type into google when they sit down to research?  If they’re not typing in “Masters in whole systems design” (literally), then what are they typing in?

What are Keyphrases?

Examples of different keyphrases. The more “long-tailed” the keyphrases, the more targeted they are.

What exactly IS a “keyphrase?”

If you have a home cleaning business, do your potential customers type in “home cleaner” when they search for a cleaner?  Or “maids?”  Or “housekeeping help?”  Those are three examples of phrases (or “keyphrases”).  And it would definitely behoove you to know which ones your potential market is using, and then to adapt your site to attract those keyphrase searches.

The first critical step in SEO is obtaining that information.  Then, you can adapt your site to increase your chances of a getting a good return in the search engines.

What do you do once you have identified the keyphrases?

How do you achieve that?  Once the research is done, through a large variety of techniques:  Examining the number of links which exist on the internet to your site; working with the metatags; working with the page titles, headers and copy; adding alt-texts to images, making changes to the page names and navigation structure of your site; and much more.

So you see, nothing helps attract potential clients to your site more than knowing what phrases those potential clients use to search for a service such as yours!