SEO Ranking Factors
A lot of people seem to believe that SEO is about nothing more then getting a web page to rank well for high traffic terms on Google and the other major search engines. Back in the dawn of SEO that was pretty much the case and anyone that could do it consistently was quickly able to gather clients at almost break neck speed. Then something happened, as we say here in Texas, “the chickens came home to roost” and well, there were some unhappy chickens. Indulge me a second on the chickens, you see when chickens go “out” for the day they pick on this and that, eat some bugs and do what ever they feel like but at some point they come back to the coop and they expect to be fed.
In the same manner SEOs got clients all sorts of rankings but in the end the client expected (rightfully so) to see a very measurable increase in revenue. In some instances the increase was there but in many it was not. During this period most SEO firms only made changes to clients web sites with a single goal, increase rankings. Optimizers felt if they brought you traffic their job was done it was up to your company to have a product that sold and a message to sell it.
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I personally always saw this philosophy as massively flawed! I honestly don’t even like the terms, SEO and Search Engine Optimization, I only use them because they have become the industry adopted term and the one that lets people easily understand what our company does. To me Search Engine Marketing or just Search Marketing, are a much more appropriate terms.
You see to me the “optimization of search engine traffic” is a holistic process, one that simply can not end with a click and a visit. Just last week my company Franklin Spirko Media, was fortunate to gain a new client. The client is Trump University, which is Donald Trump’s online educational business that provides Real Estate Training, advice on Wealth Creation and how to become a successful entrepreneur. As you can imagine we are very happy to have signed a consulting agreement with such a well known company and there is no shortage of competitors that would like to have this opportunity. If I had to state why I believe we were given the opportunity, I would say it was two primary things. First we were able to show that we have a great deal of competence and Knowledge about SEO and second that our primary concern was increasing conversions.
On Page SEO Factors
Honestly if you have a good network of sites and partners, reasonable skills in regard to on site optimization and the work ethic to make sure you get everything done, rankings in and of themselves are not that difficult to achieve even for many highly competitive terms. The real question is what happens after the visitor comes to the web site? There are a series of things we ask about and or look into prior to any attempt to gain a ranking for a term, they are…
1. Has any PPC been done around the term, if so how did it convert? If a term does not convert well with PPC, then in most instances it is not going to convert well organically either. In fact beyound direct conversion and profit one of the greatest things about PPC is it can quickly for a small investment tell you exactly what terms to really target and which are not worth the man hours.
2. What is the goal of the page the ranking is being attempted for? It may seem silly but many times people ignore this! If the site has an over riding goal then many SEOs simply try to get any related term ranked for any page. The right way to do things is to look at the page, determine its’ conversion goals and seek terms that are likely to bring in visitors in the right part of the cycle. In other words very broad terms often work well for things like a free membership or news letter opt ins, yet if the page is more of a direct sales page, terms must be far more targeted.
3. What other advertising is being done and how is the sales process working in conjunction with the web site. You have to look beyound search engines today to do a good job as a search marketer. You need every scrap of data a client is willing to share with you, direct mail, seminars and anything else that pushes people into the clients process. There are always nuggets of gold in this data, nuggets that create viral link building, social media campaigns and other other over looked opportunities. People don’t realize that things like Digg, YouTube and other new media sites are becoming “ways people find web sites and information”. If they are ways people find information to me that makes them a form of “search” and therefore something you can’t afford to ignore.
4. What analytical data is available and what additional tracking can be installed? SEOs should live inside the analytical data of a clients site. Not a day should go by with out at least a look at current data and trends. This process leads good Internet Marketers to a point where they actually are able to do what I call, “feel the pulse of a web site”. In time with the right mind set you are able to know at once when something changes about a site, you can almost feel a very modest trend forming before it is really visible and you can take advantage of positive changes quickly or head off negative ones before they have a marked result.
These are just four of the areas SEOs really need to be involved in beyond simple link building, on page optimization and monthly reporting. To sum it up a good firm needs to treat a clients site better then their own. If you could bring 5000 visitors a day to your own site but it didn’t do anything to positively impact your revenue would you do it? Would you invest the man hours, money and resources to gain a ranking just because there was traffic behind it if there was no real value to the traffic? Of course not, when we invest a clients money it is up to agencies and firms to evaluate the time and money of the client with the same critical eye we would evaluate our own budgets with. Optimization is not just about traffic, it is about optimized traffic and whether you are working on you own website or a clients site you have to keep that in mind. Your goal is to optimize the entire process and the best way you can do that is to test, measure and question every piece of the process along the way. Doing so results not only in happy clients but a better image for SEO industry wide.