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Saturday, Apr 20, 2013

SEO from 30,000 Feet

SEO, short for search engine optimization, is the process by which your website is optimized to rank higher in Google and other search engines. Because we can get lost in the details so easily, it’s best to start with a view from 30,000 feet to cover the high-level aspects of what goes into SEO.

Research, like with most marketing, is the first step in SEO. We need to know who our target audience is and why they are searching. Once we have an idea of who our target customer is we can begin to tailor our message to them directly. This influences everything from our design and imagery to the actual copy on the site.

Keywords are the search terms that users type into search engines. Building a comprehensive list of keywords is the next step in SEO. Because keywords are often the only input from the searcher, we must target the words they will most likely use to find your product. There are different approaches to finding keywords – you may have heard terms like “keyword difficulty,” “long tail keywords” and “niche keywords.” Keyword difficulty refers to how difficult it might be to rank a word. For example, if you were selling boutique dog food, it might be extremely difficult to rank for “dog food” simply because there is so much competition (not to mention you’re competing against big names like Purina and Pedigree). Long tail and niche keywords (like “grain free organic dog food” in this example) are targeted towards a smaller group of people and have less natural competition. However, they’re also far easier to get results from because of less competition, dramatically increasing your chances of ranking.

On-site optimization is about getting your online house in order. When you conduct a site audit (a great way to create a checklist of all the issues that may be affecting your rankings) you’ll hear terms like “metadata.” Metadata is the hidden code on your site that gets relayed to Google as the title and description of a page that shows up in search results. By using the keywords identified earlier, we optimize key parts of your site’s code, content and sometimes structure to maximize visibility for your targeted terms.

Unfortunately, getting to be the first result on Google is also, in large part, a popularity contest. Google determines popularity based on how many other websites link to you and how popular those sites are – it’s like high school all over again. One of the biggest challenges with SEO is building links to your site (also called “off-site optimization”), and, while there are many black-hat (think illegal) ways of doing this, Google is constantly cracking down and altering their formula to counter these. So this means that the best links are those earned organically from reputable sites.

SEO is a seemingly never ending process, but constant evaluation of your keywords, content and links is essential to beating the competition. More and more businesses are realizing the need to rank higher in search results and wondering how to do it. Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution, but with the right partner who understands SEO and has a developed process, you can see results faster and with less expense. That’s why you should team up with Plasma. We will manage the SEO process for your sites from start to finish, bringing results that you can count on and keeping you one step ahead of the competition.

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