One of the most commonly asked questions on any online business forums & discussion boards
How do I increase traffic to my website
Often asked by people who believe there is some secret underhand clever dark hat SEO tactic that can magically increase visitor numbers and instantly rocket their website to #1 in Google!
The truth is, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
There is a whole lot more that needs to be thrown into the digital marketing pie before that simple equation proves true. However, fortunately, it is all mostly just common sense!
The downside, as we all know the trouble with common sense it is unfortunately not all that common!
It is possible for anyone, no matter expertise or background to get their site ranked in Google and other search engines. In much the same way, it is possible for a human being to eat an Elephant, all that it takes is one bite at a time, requiring education, strategy, planning, timing and execution.
The reason why most people don’t understand or grasp the basic concepts associated with SEO is due to the fact, there is so much misinformation, hype & lies attributed to it.
The basic concept behind is SEO not about tricking search engines to display sites in high rankings, but rather is about ensuring the right information, to the right user, at the right time.
Let’s take a closer look at a typical Search Scenario outside of the world of computing.
A Basic Search Example
For most people, the first ever experience of using a search engine, before even encountering a computer, will probably have been a visit to the school library.
Typically, you’d need to do a little research on a subject that you had no real prior knowledge, and you’d have to go into a big building full of data! You’d have to scan through all the data, either by making use of Dewey Decimal System or by asking the Librarian who would then make use of the Dewey Decimal System to locate the relevant area of interest.
Libraries are often separated into subject areas, where all books that pertain to subjects are co-located for easier browsing.
Once arriving at your chosen area, you would scan the shelves, browsing the various books in search for the relevant information you need to complete your assignment .
There are few factors that come into play, that will help influence your decision of choice of book:
- Cover (images)
- Table of Contents
Lets examine one of the key components of a library and how it aids the search process.
The Dewey Decimal System
The Dewey decimal system (DDS) is used in more than 200,000 libraries throughout the world – translated into 35 languages – using numbers and letters to coordinate materials on the same & related subjects to make items easier to find on the shelves
In large libraries, it’s possible that many books will be classified with the same Dewey classification number. The library must give each book a unique number, a.k.a Index, that serves as the address for locating each book on the shelf.
To create an index, a Cutter number is added to the classification number.
The Dewey system’s numerical classification provides a shorthand identification and location tool. The notation lends itself to memory through the constant repetition of a standard patterns.
To distinguish works within a group and to expedite retrieval, many libraries add a book number created from the Cutter or Cutter-Sanborn Tables, which provide further specifications for author and genre.
The Index to the Dewey Decimal systems, is a relative one to arrange all topics expressed or implied, with every synonym in alphabetical order.
As an informational organization tool, the Dewey Decimal system enables people to find the information that they need at the library quickly and easily. It also enables the library to organise and categorise all the knowledge.
All of these features make the Dewey Decimal Organization system really efficient in classifying and organizing new information, and has been functional for 140 years, with the most recent revisions taking place in 2011.
In many ways it is the original “Google” because this classification was created to organize all knowledge, and this is the reason the DDS is still the most widely used classification system worldwide.
A library assigns a classification number that unambiguously locates a particular volume in a position relative to other books in the library, on the basis of its subject.
The index makes it possible to find any book and to return it to its proper place on the library shelves.
How Google Search Works
In many ways, using Google to search for content, is like searching a really large library, with an ever expanding & impressive Index which tells you exactly where everything is located.
When you perform a Google search, there are a number of computer programs check their index to determine the most relevant search results to be returned, or as Google likes to refer to is “served”, to you.
To simplify the process for easier understanding there are three key processes in delivering search results to:
Crawling i defined as the process by which Google uses software programs known as Web Crawlers, that basically search for and discovers new and updated pages to be added to the Google index.
This is typically refered to as, Googlebot, which uses algorithmic processes to determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each site.
The Googlebot crawl process begins with a list of webpage URLs, generated from previous crawl processes and augmented with
Sitemap data provided by webmasters.
Googlebot visits each of the websites it detecting links (
SRC & HREF) on each page and adds them to its list of pages to crawl. New sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and used to update the Google index.
Googlebot was designed to be distributed on several machines to improve performance and scale as the web grows. The goal of Googlebot, is to crawl as many pages from sites as it can on each visit without overwhelming the server’s bandwidth.
Googlebot processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page.
These include all key content tags and attributes, such as Title tags , META Description and ALT attributes. Googlebot can process many, but not all, content types. For example, it cannot process the content of some rich media files or dynamic pages.
When a user enters a query, Google machines search the index for matching pages and return the results that are the most relevant to the user.
Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages.
In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal: Google works hard to improve the user experience by identifying spam links and other practices that negatively impact search results. The best types of links are those that are given based on the quality of your content.
What you need to know about SEO
One of the best books on SEO is, SEO For Dummies primarily because it defines the simple strategies, practices and terminologies while providing a great grounding! All in very easy to read and digestible format.
It’s possible entire book from cover to cover in a weekend, but you will spend months implementing and perfecting all the strategies & practices contained.
Understanding the core components of SEO is the easy part. No deep technical programming knowledge or understanding of insanely complex mathematical formulas required.
The only trick required is to be hyper-conscious of the keywords associated with your business, the conduct further Keyword Research
Before you start writing your content, you should ideally plan your content marketing strategy, research which keywords and phrases relate to your business, then research what keywords and phrases your customers relate to your services and products.
Fundamentally SEO is all about targeting. It’s about finding out what people are searching for and then finding ways to satisfy their search criteria.
Your content needs to helps educate your users, ensuring they become familiar and learn to trust your product or brand. Ultimately leading them down the path to purchase.
Your website and your SEO strategy should be aligned and guided by your Customer Contact Strategy.
You customer contact strategy, is primarily focused on satisfying the needs and desires of your customer, then evolving a communication strategy and process how you can fulfil those needs.
Once the customer need has been identified, then you need think about what are the search terms – keywords & phrases – your customer is will use to search to fulfil them.
More often than not, your customer is not going to be thinking about your product in the same way you think about it.
Importance of Keyword Research
Understanding which Keywords and phrases your target customers associate with your product or brand is a crucial component of a SEO strategy. Ironically, it is also the most overlooked part of the process by Novice Bloggers and Webmasters. Many start out, by blogging or writing about what they know, instead of focusing on what their customers don’t know. The two are not the same thing!
For instance, you might sell the finest tinea pedis ointment on the market, but your customer base is not going to call it that, and won’t be searching for that. They will however, be searching for following terms:
- Best Athletes Foot cream
- Athletes Foot cream
- how to stop itching between the toes
- perscription for severe tinea pedis
- Cheapest foot fungus cream
What is interesting about these search terms is that they clearly come from completely different demographics and Search Intents.
It is highly likely that you will have different target customers who will know and identify your product with different names and search phrases. Your SEO & Content Strategy should take a carefully considered approach on how you target and deliver the right content to satisfy prospective customers needs and search intents.
SEO has very little to do with any clever computer hacks, rather it is more about clearly understanding your customers and delivering internet products and services to satisfy those needs.
Spending a little time thinking about what people will actually be searching for, when thinking about your particular product.
Basic Keyword Research can go a long way to keeping things simple and not getting involved in elaborate sounding schemes.
Defining a clear strategy, having a plan and executing on the plan and ensuring you have some clear metric to establish how successful your execution is, and whether you need to change, enhance or stay the course.
Simplicity & common sense are the key components of a SEO strategy! Keep that in mind!