I was sitting here yesterday, eating my cheerios thinking how much online marketing has changed since I first started back in in 1996. Actually, I didn’t know much of anything at that point. But, over the years I spent a lot of time learning what I could about making my sites rank well in the search engines.
Back in the day, things were different. It’s funny to hear people talk now because they don’t realize that so many things have changed. You used to be able to put some hidden words on the page, cram your copy with your important keywords and “submit” your site to your favorite search engines (there was more than 3 big ones back then) and normally had some good returns.
Today, Google and the remaining two search engines that are worth anything (Yahoo and MSN) are smart. There are very few tricks left to get rankings if you don’t deserve it and unfortunately that means work for us online marketers. Even then, it may be almost impossible to get top rankings for your sites because Google increasingly puts a lot of weight on things like site age and inbound links from trusted sites – things that can’t be manipulated or will be very hard to cheat.
Anyway, if you’re trying to do search engine optimization yourself (we obviously recommend that you hire a professional to help you with this) there are a few things that you should know.
1) Remember meta tags? No search engine worth anything these days uses them except for the description tag, and even then, it doesn’t really give you much of a boost in your rankings. It’s mostly used, well, for the description that shows in the search listings. So focus on writing something that’s going to get clicks, not stuffing it with keywords.
2) “On page optimization” is becoming a thing of the past. We used to talk about keyword weight on the page as we tried to have the perfect balance of our keywords within the page copy. Today, Google knows if a page reads right and if the page has too many of the same words – it knows if you’re writing naturally so don’t try to manipulate it. The best thing to do is try and write good, valuable content that someone can really use. Of course you need some of your keywords in there, placed in the right places and in the right way, but you should mostly focus on writing naturually.
3) Search engine submissions. There are really only 3 search engines that you should care about and they all know where you live. Forget about these services that promise to submit you to 1500 search engines and directories because it’s a waste of time and money. In fact, some statistics show that Google commands almost 70% of all search traffic which leaves the other two players to split the last 30%. So don’t spend any time submitting your site to search engines unless it’s brand, spankin’ new. Even then, you might have better luck trying to get links from an important site or directory and Google will follow that link and find you faster.