No disrespect but if you really want to be part of the conversation on the web and have people find out about your website through search engines, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Make sure your website has clean urls. No funny ampersands, question marks, ".asp", ".php", etc. The rest of search engine optimisation is a waste of time and money. Such as meta tags and search engine registration. Everybody knows that because of spoofing that search engines ignore meta tags. And if your site has an RSS feed and sends pings, the search engines will find it automatically and faster than a normal site even without registration.
- Link exchanges are a waste of time. If you have cool stuff on your site, people will find it and link it. No need to grovel for a link! Similarly, if you find cool stuff on other people's sites, there's no need to ask permission, just link to it! And having your SEO firm pay people in the Philippines, Poland and elsewhere to ask people to link to your site is irrelevant because links from sites with no content or content that is obviously there to just to increase search engine rankings are a scam that search engines are increasingly ignoring,
- Create Compelling Content Constantly (TM) on your website about your keywords and your company
- Have an RSS feed that's updated every time you update your site. [More info]
- Send a ping every time you update your site. [More info]
- Most importantly: have a dialogue not a monologue. That means: link to your competitors. Link to your allies. Link to your enemies. Link to bloggers who write about related stuff. Leave comments on other people's blogs when they talk about your company or industry. Use PubSub and Feedster and Google Alerts to find out who's talking about your company and your website and blog about what you find people are saying about your company and your industry. If you don't believe me, then heed the words of Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble, who basically said the same thing.
I can hear the gnashing of teeth already. I can understand the appeal of SEO firms. Pay once (or a periodic fee) and let somebody else take care of "that web thing" so "we can concentrate on our core business". And blogs are just diaries aren't they? Wrong!
Again SEO and letting somebody else take care of your website content may have worked in 1999, but that doesn't work in 2004. The web is part of everybody's core business in 2004. Would you trust somebody else to represent you at conferences and industry meetings?
The web in 2004 is a 365 day a year 24 hour industry conference and meeting place (as Doc Searls has stated many times) where more and more customers expect to you to converse actively through your website and the best way to do that is through blogging.
And thanks to tools like Feedster, Bloglines and PubSub and easy to use content management systems like Blogware and Drupal, being part of the conversations is not that difficult and not that time consuming.
Don't believe me? Check back in a couple of years and I bet you'll find that most corporate websites for the companies that matter will have RSS feeds, pings and constantly updated compelling content.
Go to Google. Type “ice painting” in the search box. Hit enter. The number one ranked site at press time was Jet Ice, an ice and specialty paints manufacturer.
Google “Canadian tax law information” and at number one Google returned http://www.taxpage.com, home of Rotfleisch & Samulovitch, a tax and business law firm.
Google “Canadian actors.” Number one result? CanadianActor Online, an education and information resource for aspiring Canuck thespians. Google “search engine placement.” The number one site? Search Engine Optimization Inc.
How does Jet Ice, a Newmarket, Ont. based manufacturer of ice paints, rank number one? How does CanadianActor Online beat out all Canadian actors, Canadian actor fan sites and Canadian actors’ unions and associations? How does Rotfleisch & Samulovitch, a Toronto-based law firm, surpass all other tax law firms? How does SEO, a San Diego, Calif., search-engine optimization company, out-rank other search engine optimization companies?
All four Web sites have been optimized for optimal search engine results.
This means they have:
. defined keywords, the words and phrases search engine visitors use when looking for information,
. embedded keywords in site content, hot links on their sites and in hidden tags that show up in search results,
. asked stakeholders with related Web sites to link to their sites, and
. registered their Web sites with all the major search engines, even paying for listings and ads where marketing conditions warrant.
They have, in short, designed sites that are search-engine friendly and can be easily read by the automated programs, called ‘bots or spiders, that add Web pages to search engine databases.