005 - "Building a website without SEO is like building a road without direction."
If you were given the keys to a time machine and told you are able to return to the past and become the founder of one of the tech giants we know today...which would you choose? Facebook? Twitter? Amazon? Google? Regardless of your opinion on their moral actions, in the business world, each of these monsters are a huge success. While they offer users different engagement services, they all have one thing in common...they successfully feed into our wants & desires while predicting our behaviors. But who holds the most success? Which platform offers the best solutions for businesses? (Hint: they all do! Stay tuned for future posts on each one individually).
Today, however, we focus on the search engine juggernaut known as Google. This platform stands out from the rest in that it is a driving force for web traffic. Most channels to your website run through a search engine. They offer a direct path of results based on a user's input. The massive algorithm picks out key words, phrases, image alt texts, and behind the curtain tools to provide the user with the best possible results from their inquiry. As powerful as these search engines are (specifically Google) in predicting the user's behavior and interests, they need input from businesses as well in order to be effective.
Many business professionals who are not too familiar with the inner workings of SEO believe it to be a myth...a way for a techy geek to get hired. But think of it in a very simple way...if I drop a single grain of white rice into a bag with other rice, shake it up and say find which one is mine...could you do it? The odds are overwhelmingly NOT in your favor. Why? It seems that there is at lease a chance to get the right one...isn't there? In theory, there is always a chance. But the fact is, once I drop that singe grain of rice into the mix of thousands like it, there are no distinguishing characteristics that separate it from the rest. Now substitute the grain of rice with your website. I bet you spent a lot of time (and money) to get it JUST right...the engagement and funnels are preciously how you envisioned. You can't stop looking at it yourself, because you are so proud of your work. I guarantee that every other rice in that bag has the same value proposition. The bigger question is...if no one visits the site or even knows it exists...does it still hold the same value? A user is drawn to a website by a variety of different tools. Google, as our example of the day, uses the information provided to the web by the site to filter through the bag of rice to find yours...but as mentioned it needs help.
Let's use our same bag of rice example, only this time, I am going to draw a little dot on my rice grain before tossing it into the bag. This dot represents a step of SEO that I've implemented on my site. For each step...I add a dot. Before long, that single grain of rice is so consumed with dots, that it is completely distinguishable from the others in the bag. This allows for the algorithms to pick that grain out from the rest and provide your business as a verified search result. Again, sounds simple in theory...but practically, there are millions and millions of rice grains that need to get sifted through and sorted. The more precise the information, the more accurate the search results are for the user. So how do you set all of this up? Can't the search engines just scan my site and figure it out on their own? (In short...yes. But they need something to catch when they scan).
As discussed in the previous piece, websites serve various purposes. If you were asked to identify the commonalities of most sites out there...what would your answer be? Pages (or sections in more modern looking sites) including: Home, About Us, Contact Us, Products/Services are all common and found on 90% of sites. Now, if I rephrase the question to ask you what is the commonality of most sites with high rates of traffic...what would your answer be? Images...Blogs...Articles...Opinions...Reviews...or, to simply sum it up...content!
Again, everyone's website is the cat's pajamas! It is your way of telling the universe about your business. But here's a little secret that most folks won't tell you...NO ONE CARES about how you doll up your ideas in a digital format if they can't find it! Take those professional photos and add descriptions to them...define them using alt text. Alt text is a sort of behind the scenes title for a photo...essentially tagging each photo with a searchable term for Google to grab on its scans. Blog posts (ahem...like these) offer a huge amount of scannable terms that Google can catch. Here's an example... CUTE PUPPY VIDEOS . The fact that I made this simple phrase will pop this post up on certain radars for cute puppy videos. Will it be relevant to the user's desire to watch little cute pups...of course not. But when the "cute puppy videos" are the main theme of each page, each photo, and each post of your website, then it begins to gain credibility for the algorithms to grab it, segment it, and output it as a viable result to the user.
Now, let's be clear...a lot of this is precision surgery to make sure that each element is captured by a search engine. But a whole other side of this story is user behavior and predicting the same. Regardless of what your thoughts are about these tech giants, they have mastered the AI to segment each user's interest levels and keep feeding it like a drug. Your tendencies and habits are calculated to show you the results that keep you coming back for more. So, in order to make sure your grain of rice is bold, colorful, and completely different from the others in the bag...you need to think like a search engine. Target your language and behind the scene descriptions to common key words, searchable terms, and identifiers that users will input into the search engine. Use your own searching experiences to help narrow it down. The more precise you are, the better the results. For example, if I have an ecommerce store that sells candles, using terms as broad as SHOP or SMELL will get me absolutely no where. The more precise the description, the bigger the dot on the rice.
"Building a website without SEO is like building a road without direction." - Unknown
Search engines provide the users answers to all of their questions. It is a source for fulfilling their exact needs and wants. So knowing the power that yields, what is your answer to the question at the beginning of this piece? Which of the tech giants do you go back in time and invent? My answer 100 times out of 100 is Google!