SEO or search engine optimization is now a line item on plenty of marketing budgets. I have seen companies plunk down more money on SEO than for the rest of an entire launch, and not even have a clue what they are buying. LeQ Medical will now reveal to you the incredible secrets of SEO.
We have to get very basic because SEO (contrary to popular belief) is not rocket science. When you go to the internet and attempt to find something, you typically type in a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. The keyword may be literally a word (like “rehab”) or it may be a phrase or even a question (“alcohol rehab in LA” or “who has cheapest rehab program for painkiller addiction?”) For our purposes, we’ll call that the “keyword.”
The search engine then scours the web and produces for you, typically in under a second, thousands if not millions of results. You would be hard-pressed to find a keyword that did not yield any results. And some monster keywords will produce millions of sites that the search engine believes has something to do with your keyword.
Type in “oxycodone” and see what happens. You have to realize that the search engine, however creepy-smart they get, really does not know exactly what you want. It doesn’t know if you want to buy some blackmarket oxycodone or if you are researching its use in controlling postsurgical pain. It doesn’t know if you want to see a picture of what oxycodone looks like or maybe you just want to be sure you’re spelling it properly. The search engine does its best, based on what you give it, to deliver to you the results you’ll be happiest with.
But how can it deliver a million websites? Even in two-point type, a list of a million websites is more than you can deal with. So the search engine prioritizes the list for you, based on what it thinks you want, and ranks the sites it found so that the best ones show up first.
This is called “organic results” and it appears on the left side of the screen. At the very top of the screen and running down a column to the right are the paid results. These guys paid to show up when people entered a certain keyword. The organic results cannot be purchased, well, at least not directly.
SEO is a way of making sure that your websites appears as high up in the search engine rankings (ideally in the first 10) as possible. You do this by making sure that your site does things that the search engine recognizes as important. In other words, the search engine uses algorithms to rank sites. If you can figure out that algorithm, you can push your site up to the top of the page.
One tricky thing about SEO is that search engines are very quiet about their search engine algorithms. Furthermore, the algorithms change often. So even if you try to game them, you’re facing an uphill battle.
The point is: you don’t want to game the search engines. The best way to get monster SEO results is the old-fashioned way:
- Build a great page. SEO is not for a site, it’s for a page. (Ever notice that sometimes in a search, you won’t be directed to the main page of a website but to a page deep inside the site? That’s because SEO is done for each page.)
- Be coherent. The site’s URL and content and media should all be related.
- Be natural. The search engines are wise to things like “keyword stuffing” or other tricks aimed at getting your site ranked higher. You are often penalized for these things.
That is the first step. You won’t get good SEO from those, but you won’t get dinged for them when you use the tricks.
SEO is all based on links. Think of the old-fashioned high school or college term paper where you had to have footnotes or endnotes with references. The idea is that you needed to cite or reference authoritative sources for your information. You needed to show you knew who was writing on that topic. References demonstrate you were familiar with the body of work on your subject. Well, that’s what links are. The search engines figure that if you have a site on heart disease, you ought to know about all of the other “authority sites” on heart disease. Authority sites is a subject unto itself, but here is the short course. An authority site is often run by a specialty society or non-profit or government group and is very large and well recognized as being an authority in the offline world. But other links count as well.
- The more links you have, the better.
- Authority links are the best.
- Links count both ways–that is a link to a site counts, but a link from a site to you counts even more.
Besides links, your site should look active with regular installments of fresh content, occasional facelifts and media, and comments and activity.
Getting SEO is a matter of keeping the site spruced up, adding new content, and getting and maintaining links. The link thing is a bit tricky and maybe you do need an SEO agency for that. But at least now you know what they’re doing.
By the way, SEO is not fast. Once you get rolling, it can get fast and every now and then there is something flukey fast, but as a general rule it takes months to get a new site or new page to a high SEO position.