Is Search Engine Optimization Dead?

I spend loads of my time reading search engine forums like Webmasterworld. There are hundreds of them and after a while you soon learn to pick out the good bits of information and discard the rubbish. Everyone with a website, whether its a full blown e-commerce site or a simple blog like this one wants their website to appear high up in Google and other search engines. I have been reading comments and contributing to Webmasterworld since 2002, when I first became a member and whilst I still don’t consider myself an expert I have discovered what gives you a fighting chance to make a success in the online world.

In a recent article I was reading someone asked the question “Is search engine optimization dead?” His argument was that the days when you can optimize your website through content building and link building is dead. He feels that Google is now using the Google Toolbar and Google Analytics and using this information to rank a website. I have to say that I disagree with him. Whilst I agree that Google will use information obtained from its Toolbar, like the number of visitors a website gets and how long these visitors stay on the site, I still believe that making your website the best in can be and making it Google friendly is still the best way to obtain high search engine rankings.

My opinion on how to be a success on Google

The first thing I have come to understand about SEO is that unless you have a product or service that nobody else has or sells then there are no short cuts and no quick way of making a fortune. For most of us it is a long hard road which involves hard work and commitment to writing good quality content. You can’t just write some good content and then stop, you have to write good content nearly every day and keep writing for ever !

Good Design

The next thing is that your website needs to be well designed and good to look at. Keep it simple and make sure that your navigation from your homepage to all your other internal pages is as good as it can be. In other words, link to as many of your pages as you can from your homepage. Also, make sure your pages have a structure with plenty of good content. Each of the website pages should be focused on a particular keyword relating to the topic of your website and it is important to get the keyword density correct. Don’t over use the keyword and make the page read well so that it makes sense to the reader and provides good quality information about the topic in question.

Write Good Quality Web Pages

Use images, with alt tags, on the pages if relevant and make it a page that is natural rather than made to work well in a search engine. The rule is – build a page for your readers and not for a search engine, but at the same time make it search engine friendly. Build your chosen keywords into the body of text on that page and use keyword anchor text links to other pages, if relevant, to help your readers navigate to other important pages on your site. Again, the rule is don’t overdo the links and keep the page relevant to the reader. Keep building new quality pages as often as you can but don’t build junk pages just for the sake of it. If you can’t write enough information yourself or you find ideas have dried up then ask for a contribution from somebody who knows your product, service or area of interest. They provide a useful article in return for a mention on your website is often a good way to produce good content.

How To Build Links

Once you have a reasonable amount of good content that you are proud of then you need to keep building new pages but also you need to “tell the world” about your website. One of Google’s many measures of the importance of your website is the number and quality of other websites that link to your site. Think of a link as a “vote” for your website. I often read that a website owner does not need to build links because if you have a quality website then the links will come naturally. I don’t subscribe to this opinion unless you have a website that is way above the norm. 99% of websites need promoting by the owner. I have one website that has been online over 2 years in a niche area that has not obtained one natural inbound link in that time and it is not a bad website at all. My advice is to try and get some links by asking for them or by giving something in return. You could always start by getting a few good quality directory links. Do some research to try and find some good directories which are associated with the same theme as your own website. Buy a few links if you have to.

Always remember to build links at a reasonable pace. You need to try to fly under the Google radar. Anything done to excess over a too short a time will be picked up by Google and you could be penalized if Google feels you are attempting to manipulate the rankings. Don’t obtain hundreds of useless links, you need to obtain some good quality links from other sites that have trust and authority. You will recognise these sites when you see them. One good link from a good site like a newspaper or news site is worth more than hundreds of spammy links.

Click here for more link building tips

Other Types of Website Promotion

Don’t think that making a success of your website is all about good design and links. Like any successful business you have to promote your website in other “offline” ways. Use your web address on all your stationary and try to promote it anyway you can think of. You need to build a reputation and like any business it takes time and patience. Just because you have an online business don’t believe the hype that you will become an overnight millionaire, you won’t, but if you keep adding good useful information in a way that is interesting to read then you will eventually have a website that you actually may make some money from.

How Long Does It Take To Get High Rankings in Google?

If you follow my advice then you will start to see some good visitor traffic after 3 or 4 months. If you have a 100 page website that has good content and a few good links then you can expect to be receiving 50 visitors a day after 3 months. Some people will get far more than that and some will get less. These are figures based on my own experience after launching quite a few what I consider good websites. You do, however, need to be receiving two or three hundred visitors a day if you have a website selling something, before you will start to see some income and that is presuming you have a product that is well priced and is what people want !

Have Patience And Be The Best

Don’t expect overnight success. There are lots of other web site owners who are doing the same as you so you have to stand out from the rest if you want to beat them. Also, don’t expect to get high rankings for competitive keywords in the first 12 months. One of Google’s ranking measures is the age of a website. Older websites will have an advantage over newer sites, but you can get good rankings for less competitive keywords. These are the ones you should be aiming for in the short term.

Above all, remember to keep building regular new good quality web pages, keep your site “fresh” and keep building good quality inbound links at a reasonable speed. Good luck !