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The Right Way to Get Your Small Business to the top of Search Engine Listings

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What is the sound of one hand clapping? If you’ve ever devoted some time to thinking about that classical Eastern riddle, then you might be ready for one of my strongest – and strangest – pieces of search engine optimization advice: forget about it.

Because of the enormous bottom-line implications that come with a top listing on Google, Yahoo, or Bing, SEO has become a major industry in and of itself. Dozens of books have been written, thousands of websites are devoted to the topic, and hundreds more web design professionals like myself work at it every day of the week, so I can understand if you’re a little bit confused about my suggestion to just toss that part of your online marketing strategy aside.

Before you go thinking I’ve lost my marbles, however, let me explain: SEO is important, and you should do everything you can to cover the basics on your site. If you haven’t gotten a professional to optimize your page headers, tags, and other major details, get started on that today. Beyond that, though, it’s a good idea to forget about the search engine spiders for a while. Why? Because so many marketers and business owners become obsessed with having the right keywords scattered throughout their pages that they start to miss the point – getting paying customers to visit your website and stay there.

Automated computer programs don’t buy goods or services, people do. So when you’re putting together your product descriptions, company profiles, or online articles, do the smart thing and write to another person. Don’t let the temptation to worry about “keyword density” or “long tail search parameters” destroy what you wanted to say; just make your point in normal, everyday language.

For one thing, this will probably end up improving your actual search performance. Because so many marketers and dubious search engine “experts” try to fool the system, Google and other engines will actually punish you if they think your writing is designed to increase traffic.

More to the point, though, good old human-to-human communication remains the best way to sell. All the traffic in the world doesn’t mean anything if the people who come to your website immediately leave, and the only way they’re going to stay is if they find something that’s interesting and/or informative. There might be dozens of ways to attract automated spiders, but no one has come up with a better way to hold a person’s attention than by simply writing about what matters to them.

It might sound silly to remind you about how important search engine optimization is, and then tell you not to worry about it so much in the next breath. But the fact the matter is the best SEO comes naturally. If you simply concentrate on adding solid content to your site regularly, you’re sure to gain hundreds of new readers, automated and otherwise.

One Comment

  1. NIck says:

    Mary,

    Great post. Your comment “automated computer programs don’t buy goods or services, people do” is exactly right.
    Again, Great Post!!