You’ve all seen them. If you’ve been around web development resource sites or even casually mentioned anything to do with web design on Twitter, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plague has never been more widespread.
And so many of them still miss the most important part of developing a website. Whether they call themselves SEO Experts or SEO Gurus or are obscuring it behind some other acronym they’re all guilty of forgetting the most basic lesson of all – Content is King.
Next time you see someone touting their SEO prowess, take a closer look. I promise you’ll suffer no lasting damage as a result.
Nine times out of ten that closer look will turn up much the same advice, regardless of the source – focus on keywords, meta tags are important and you’ve just got to have a sitemap of some kind. Not doing these things is a certain recipe for disaster, according to the Pro SEO players.
Yet you can twiddle your keywords and meta tags till you’re blue in the face, if your site’s content isn’t worth reading or is too swamped by those all important keywords being jammed in every which way, why would anyone stick around to see what else your site has to offer? You might get a thousand new visitors – and that will look great in your statistics package – but if they’re not sticking around to read multiple pages, if they’re not passing your URL on to friends, if they’re just hitting the back button to return to their Google/Yahoo/Bing results, then what have you really achieved?
Search Engine Optimization shouldn’t be your first concern when creating a website. Unless your platform of choice requires you do certain things prior to creating content you shouldn’t worry about it. WordPress, for example, can deal with being “optimized” after you’ve made a few interesting posts, when it actually makes sense to give your site a tune up.
If you don’t have the patience to make those first few posts without hitting that #1 Google spot then you’re never going to make it anyway. Despite what you may have heard, search engines don’t index pages immediately and even if they did you’re still behind the 8 ball. Every other site on the same subject will likely rate higher than you at first, primarily because they’ve put in the hard work to get links from other websites, the hard work creating worthwhile content and they’ve had the patience to see it all pay off. Or they’ve just plain paid their way to a higher rating via advertising.
So, what do you do? How do you get a blog off the ground and potentially earning you some money, without forking out for advertising or being scammed by SEO scumbags?
What do you have a passion for? What do you think you could write about regularly? This isn’t a case of “fake it till you make it”, unless you’re a professional writer already. If you’re obviously regurgitating information you’ve picked up off Wikipedia or other sites on the subject, it’ll show and nobody will bother with your site for long.
You need to have a genuine passion for your subject, because if you really want to get a lot of traffic you’re going to have to write about your chosen subject a lot. And you’ll need to write intelligently and with attention to detail.
That doesn’t mean you need to be intelligent, but if your chosen field of interest is chess it’s best you don’t refer to the Knights as “Horsies”, unless you’re aiming for a lighthearted approach to the subject. If you want to write about aquariums you best know what pH level to aim for and the best way to get there without killing your fish.
And even though you have a special interest in your chosen subject, it never hurts to do some research from time to time. This is another reason it’s important to pick something you enjoy – you’d probably be reading about it anyway!
By reading what other people are saying on a subject you can avoid essentially repeating what someone has already said. This is important – for SEO – to make you stand out from similar sites, but also to avoid any conflicts with other site owners who may feel you’re simply repeating them. Never a fun conversation to have, even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong.
There’s a lot more I could say on the subject of site content – and I might in the future – but I’ll leave people to ponder upon the above for now.
Next time on “Embiggen Your Blog Traffic Without Paying An SEO Expert”: Twitter! How the SEO munchkins are doing it wrong and some hints from me on how to make it work for you.