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A client recently asked me about his SEO (Search Engine Optimization). He was concerned about whether or not it was working for him with the recent changes Merge Left Marketing had made to his corporate site. Just a few days later, he called to share his excitement about a phone call he received and a significant sale he made, as a direct result of someone discovering his services via an internet search—specifically, it was content we had published to generate higher page rank and listings results.

We shared in his excitement. “That’s great,” I told him. “This is a clear indication that your SEO is working better. Now let’s continue to build upon those results.”

So, what do you need to know about SEO for your company? There are several elements, but if we were to briefly outline some practical thoughts, I’d recommend you remember the principles of optimization first. You optimize your website so people who search for your particular product or service online find you “organically” before anyone else. You rank high on a search page depending on your how well you structure your site and the relevant content you produce. Do the following to build on that foundation:

1. There are a lot of reputable companies out there who claim to optimize your digital experience. Several national companies claim optimization, but their primary way to optimizing isn’t really optimizing at all. Rather, it’s simply creating a “link farm” or a page which has a significant number of links from many different companies, expressly for the purpose of generating a highly ranked page. While Google in particular frowns upon this methodology, it can work if done correctly—at least until your discovered and maybe banned from searches. Your site isn’t optimized; they simply drive traffic to an optimized page on their site. Be wary of what terms people describe and make sure you aren’t simply another cog in driving traffic to someone else’s website, but that in fact your site is getting the traffic flow.

2. Page Rank is important to the search. The more relevant your content, link structure and Meta information, the more likely you are to rank higher, and therefore trump other websites in search results. Ostensibly, the better your page rank, then the more revenue you can generate from traffic, since it results in more qualified lead generation.

3. SEM – or Search Engine Marketing is NOT the same thing as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEM is paid versus organic search relevance. If someone is asking you to pay them to generate SEM results for your site for better optimization, be sure to understand that a poorly optimized site will cost more to advertise than a better optimized site. Make sure you optimize your site before paying for a sponsored search listing.

Fact is, optimization can be a challenging business and marketing strategy to deploy correctly. It has many factors that businesses don’t typically understand in-house. As a result, companies can prey upon that lack of knowledge and lead you astray. But, if you remember the basics of what you are trying to do you’ll have more success at driving qualified online traffic for convertible lead generation. If you don’t you’ll be chunked together with everyone else on unreliable, unmeasurable “optimization” red herrings. And importantly, you’ll never really know the answer to whether, “my optimization working for me?”

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