Bringing someone to your website is just the first step. Unless they complete a task you have wasted time and money.
The Google homepage is one of the most poorly search engine optimized websites on the Web. If you search for "search engine" (There are 6 million such searches every month.) then Google appears way down the list on the second page of search results. Alta Vista (the king of search engines in the mid-Nineties) appears third. Google is doing a lot wrong.
SEO experts tell their clients that Google loves content. Well, not on its own homepage it doesn't. Last time I counted there were 39 words on the entire page, and not a single one of them contained the phrase "search engine". It gets worse. If you look at the title tag for the Google homepage it says "Google". That's all. Just Google. That has got to be one of the worst title tags ever written.
In the world of search engine optimization, Yahoo is a much better homepage. It has hundreds of popular words and over a hundred links. Search engines just love Yahoo. So, why is Google so appalling at search engine optimization? They don't need it, you might say. They're Google. Yes, but Google wasn't always a giant. It was started by two students and from the very beginning it had a really simple homepage.
So why is Google so successful? Because it understands one very important rule:
Bringing people through your website is more important than bringing people to it.
It is more important to focus on helping people complete the task they came to your website to complete than simply bringing lots of customers to your website.
The ultimate search engine optimization and marketing strategy is to try to help your customer complete their task quickly and easily on your website. In an age of social media, happy customers tell other customers. Happy customers are more likely to link to you.
Jill Whalen is one of the most sensible people you can listen to when it comes to search marketing. In a recent article she talked about the truly horrible practice of writing "SEO articles." According to Jill there is a widespread belief that "writing keyword-stuffed articles is somehow an SEO requirement. They don't know why they might need these articles -- only that, for whatever reason, the Google Gods want them. And so they write articles that nobody would be interested in reading, but which are stuffed chock-full of the keywords for which they would like Google to show their site. And then they wonder why it's not happening for them."
Jill goes on to explain why writing purely for the search engine is such a bad idea. "If you were looking to buy Product Part A, which page would you rather find in Google? The one with the product part information, the price, choice of color/size, information on how to purchase it, and an 'add to shopping cart' button? Or the one that tells you the history of said product part?"
Always optimize for the searcher (the customer), not the search engine.
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