Things are always moving fast in search engine optimization (SEO). Commerce began to make its big shift onto the Internet in the 1990s. Early entrepreneurs saw the potential to rank a website very quickly using easy tactics, but those days are way past. If you want to be successful at SEO, you will need to understand a little about its beginnings and where things stand now for web entrepreneurs and businesses.
The Early Days
It was relatively easy to rank just by putting up a website and posting some very keyword-rich content when all this got started in the late ‘90s and early part of the next decade. Eventually, though, competition increased.
Unfortunately, a lot of people took advantage of keyword strategies and stuffed their pages with little more than words chosen to rank high in the search engines. Their pages were often little more than gibberish. Users searching the Internet could find little more than these sorts of pages because they were highly ranked. They complained. Search engines reacted.
Search Engine Updates
Over the years, and especially in 2012, search engines have been forced to adapt to the techniques that Internet marketers have used to (in some cases, not all) “game the system”. The search engines have responded mostly by creating criteria in their search algorithm that would help ensure a certain amount of quality websites would be found on the first page of results — that’s the goal at least. These changes essentially lowered the desirability and effectiveness of easy tactics such as keyword stuffing and other spammy tactics that used to work.
Moving Ahead Now
No one can be sure of exactly how the major search engines determine which websites will be ranked highly. It is known that they use special algorithms which incorporate massive amounts of data to generate their results. Internet marketers try to craft their websites and SEO strategy carefully to meet what appears to be demanded most by the search engines. What’s in demand right now? Given the most recent updates, these search engines are increasingly rewarding websites that contain engaging content, quality backlinks and have a strong presence in the social media world. In a nutshell: a website that is authoritative in its niche.
Internet marketers and businesses need to keep all this in mind as they try to dominate their chosen market. Successful websites must be planned correctly from the very beginning because a strong foundation will help enhance SEO results (and results that are more solid and enduring). The initial process of planning should resemble the following three steps:
1. Achieve an Accurate Understanding of Your Niche
There is no point in discussing content possibilities until you really understand the niche that you are seeking to dominate. Much of your competition will skip this step but you will literally be one step ahead of them with this task under your belt. Write it all down on paper to make it very clear and memorable. State what you will stand for, what your allegiances will be and how you will represent your cause.
Look closely at already existing competitors. Determine their strengths and weaknesses. Use a tool known as SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threats) Analysis to help you create a successful site in your specific niche.
2. Study the Audience
Look at your potential audience and consider two important criteria: quantity and quality. To understand just how many people are really interested in this niche, you can perform a quantitative analysis using keyword search data and surveys distributed through the social media networks and in emails. Numbers are not everything but they are important. With some understanding of this potential, you can advance to the next stage of your analysis, the qualitative.
The idea behind a qualitative analysis of the audience is an understanding of what the people behind those numbers want. You want to get a picture of the typical person browsing this corner of the web. Only with this understanding can you craft content meant to capture their attention.
Now you can move on to the last step to which many beginners jump into right away. With a clear idea of how many people and what kind of people you want to address, you can finally unleash your creativity. You do not need to spend all of your time in front of a keyboard or even a piece of paper to do this. Sit in a restaurant or walk in the park while you toss around the most imaginative ideas. Just make sure that you write them down eventually so you do not forget.
In the aftermath of this 3-step creative storm, you will be able to look at your ideas logically. Begin to form your concrete plans now. You will have prepared a strong foundation for a website and your SEO efforts will be much more effective.
Image: © ronstik – Fotolia.com