In Part I of this article, we unmasked Search Engine Optimization and revealed the essentials of how websites can move up on the organic search result list. We also blew the whistle on firms that claim to guarantee top placement or utilize special tricks.
Whether or not you decide to hire a specialist to improve your website’s search engine results, here is some more free advice to ensure that the search engines look upon your site in a favorable light.
- Fix site errors – Make sure your site pages load quickly and without errors. Make sure all the links on your site work correctly. This especially applies to links to other sites, where content may have been removed. You’ll also lose credibility with prospective clients, who will have a less-than-professional experience on your site.
- Patience, grasshopper – This process, when managed correctly, should start yielding results in 4-6 months. Anything faster should be considered lucky. The good news is that it takes just as long for the results to change if you stop SEO efforts, so you can take a month off and still be competitive.
- Don’t try to trick the search engines. Do you think you (or SEO firms) are smarter than Google, Yahoo! and Bing? Hardly. These guys have entire organizations focused on staying one step ahead of all the tricks. If you get caught breaking their rules, you risk your site being blacklisted, or blocked by the search engines. So think about that before you duplicate your site on a dozen separate web addresses, or put white key words on a white web page.
- Focus your efforts. Google accounts for 65% of the search engine market. You can focus your efforts there if you choose, but you will neglect the 35% that is often overlooked. Less competition means better results, and if 100,000 people were searching for my business, I’d be very happy to reach the 35,000 non-Google traffic. Focus your efforts where they matter for you and your company.
Some of the folks who read the initial article comments asked how much an outsourced SEO initiative should cost. Here’s an educated guess, although your results may vary. For mid-sized (30-50 pages) websites with a single audience in moderately competitive markets, I think $1,000-$1,500 per month is fair if the SEO firm is conducting a monthly site analysis and providing you with recommendations. Increase the fee if the firm will be maintaining your site and making the updates, if you have a larger site, or if your company serves multiple markets or audiences.
If you have questions or ideas about other practical ways to improve organic search results, let me know and I’ll update the article again.
If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.