If you are a small company, you may feel frustrated in your efforts to get your articles ranked highly in the search engines. SEO experts want to help, but they write articles that tell you to complete a long checklist of tasks. Does that mean you must complete all the tasks to rank well? Are some tasks more important than others? Which are the most important?
Observe the Fundamentals
In a recent sponsored article on Venture Beat, Todd Friesen, Director of SEO at SalesForce, offered some encouraging advice. He recommended that smaller companies use three primary practices to improve their search rankings.
- Build a clean and well organized site.
- Know the keywords that people will use to find you and your competitors.
- Write top quality articles on topics where you are the expert.
To Understand SEO, Look No Further Than the Local Library
Friesen’s advice reminds me that the local library provides a useful analogy to think about SEO because Google and the local library have similar goals. They both want visitors to easily find the object of their search.
The library expects submissions from publishers to be well-organized and to adhere to publishing standards. If the publisher gives the library a homemade scrapbook bound with ribbon, it won’t know what to do with the book and library visitors will not be able to find it.
The library wants the book it receives to be about one subject. The library won’t know where to place a book that is part cookbook, part strategy, part mystery. Nor will it know what to do with a book which is so general that it is about nothing in particular.
Write something interesting and useful. Libraries want to offer well-written books that demonstrate a unique understanding a topic that people want to read. Books that meet this standard will be read, discussed, passed on to friends, and reviewed.
Meet These Three Criteria to Improve Your SEO
Think about Google’s index as a big virtual library. If you want people to search in the Google library and find your articles, then you have to meet the same criteria as an author that places a book in a physical library.
Build a clean and well organized site
A well-organized site makes it easy for Google to find and index each of your pages. The HTML on your site should be clean and your pages should load quickly. Give Google an XML sitemap so it can easily crawl your entire site. Google’s Guidelines and Webmaster Tools will help you meet these criteria.
Know the keywords that people will use to find you and your competitors
You can’t tell Google directly the subject of your article and your website. The search engine has to infer the topic of your site by looking at the vocabulary in your articles. Based on your vocabulary, the search engine infers the keywords and ranks your article accordingly.
Todd Friesen suggests you do some competitive research to discover the best keywords to use:
Competitive research is step one when it comes to keywords. Researching the paid search landscape of your competition will reveal a host of keywords that are worth looking at. If someone is willing to buy that traffic, there are good odds those keywords convert to sales.
Friesen recommends the tools from www.semrush.com to study how Google ranks your competitors for the keywords they use and the volume of searches that Google sees each month.
Write top quality articles on topics where you are the expert
Excellent content is the number one criteria for success with both your buyers and with the search engine. Fortunately for you, this is where you can really shine compared to your larger competitors. You are the authority on your subject or else your customers wouldn’t be working with you. When you share your expertise and experience with your audience, Google will want to make it easy for them to find your pages.
You may be tempted to write general articles about your field of work. Do not yield to this temptation. Make your articles as specific as possible. Your audience is seeking the details on a wide range of topics related to your area of expertise. As you build and share your collection of articles, you’ll become recognized by Google and by your buyers as an authority on your topics.
You can compete on Google in your niche
Many articles on SEO go into more detail than most people can absorb. But if you keep the image of the library in mind, you can go a long way toward higher rankings in Google and more visits from the people you want to reach.