You Don't Need an SEO Guy

by Scott Kasun

Wait...did a guy from a firm offering SEO services actually just say that?

So there you are with your beautiful, well designed, look-at-me website. It's got intuitive navigation, a great call to action, pretty photos, and a killer web stats package just waiting to give you an in-depth analysis of your visitors.Problem is, Google isn't looking at you, and your site is just sitting there collecting cyberdust.

The solution? Ask any SEO guy or SEO firm and they will tell you the answer is on-page optimization (making your site attractive to Google) and a comprehensive backlink campaign (getting links back to your site). But here's what the SEO guys won't tell you: the work they do are essentially replications of what should happen with your site naturally over time. SEO campaigns simply speed up the process. And the raw truth is that you can do it yourself if you have the time, ability and inclination.

The magic bullet? Write, baby, write...

Content is King

The search engines don't give up how they decide who ranks first in their results - they guard that information the same way Coke guards their recipe or our programmers guard their Twinkies. Google doesn't admit a whole lot, but they have come out to say that the text on your site is extremely important (no real surprise there). And not just any text, but text that clearly states what your site is about - and by default what YOU are about.

So conclusion #1 is this - the more content you have that includes the search phrases you want to be known for, the better off you will be.

Bring it Back

One of the only other items of consideration that Google has admitted to is backlinks. Backlinks are links from other sites that point back to your site. Each one is like a vote of confidence for your site. The more you have - and the more you have from well-respected sites - the more love the search engines give your site.

So conclusion #2 is this - if you could figure out a way to get a bunch of backlinks to your site, you will catch Google's attention.

The Write Stuff

So how does writing help with these items? In terms of content, that one is pretty obvious. Write a good article that is related to your product or service and post it to your site (a blog is absolutely ideal for this purpose, and you get the added benefit of an RSS feed). The next time the search engines review your site they'll find the new content and know that much more about you.

As far as backlinks are concerned, there's a few extra steps that need to be taken here to get the full benefit. You will want to upload your article to an article submission service (like ezinearticles.com) and as mentioned, on your blog. You'll also want to spread the word, and thankfully there are quite a few free mediums out there to do so: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. A well written article can spread like wildfire through the web thanks to all the social media outlets.

This helps increase the availability of your article. What you are hoping for is that others in and around your industry will find value in what you have written and feature it on their own site and/or blog. But here's the key: in exchange for using your article, they have to keep the author's name and information intact, and of course that will include links to your website.

Anchors Aweigh

There is, however, and right and a wrong way to include those links back to your site. To understand this best, you have to think about the way that Google looks at links. Over time, Google will associate whatever phrase is used as the link with the site itself.A great example of this is the phrase "click here":

There are thousands of websites out there that have PDF files, and most have a small blurb of text that says "you need to have Adobe Reader to read this file - if you don't have it, click here". That phrase - "click here" - is linked to Adobe Reader so often that Google has now associated it with Adobe, and specifically the page where you download Reader. Go ahead - Google it...you know you want to. When you get to the page, see if you can find the phrase "click here" anywhere. You won't. And while this example is a bit extreme, it's a great illustration of just what backlinks can do.

To put this concept to use, you will want to be sure to choose a search phrase (ideally related to your article) and use it to link to your site. Don't make an amateur mistake like so many others and use "click here" (the market's already cornered on that one, see the sidebar) or heaven forbid, www.yourwebsite.com - trust me, Google already knows your site by that link!

You'll also want to link key phrases within your article to specific pages on your site. For example, since this article is in regards to SEO, it would be wise for me to use the phrase Ohio SEO company and link it to the search engine optimization page on our site (sneaky, huh). Most article submission sites will let you get away with 3-4 links - more than that and they'll feel like you are trying to game the system.

But Will It Work?

How will articles take the place of a professional SEO firm? Well, if done correctly, you will reap the following rewards:

  • More related content for your site (Content is King)
  • The engines LOVE fresh, updated content. It's a sign that you view your site as a living, breathing source of information instead of just an online brochure.
  • All that content helps Google to better understand what you are and what you do. Google confidence is a very good thing.
  • Just one popular article can generate many backlinks. A number of popular articles will generate many multiples of backlinks.
  • You are doing exactly what Google wants to see - growing your site organically, providing valuable content - and they will reward you for that.

When all is said and done, you will have essentially accomplished what you'd hire an SEO guy to do. Now, to be fair, this strategy doesn't truly address "on-page optimization" completely (a topic for another article), so a case could certainly be made that writing articles AND using an SEO guy would get you results faster. But if you have the time and ability, you can absolutely achieve the same goals just simply by writing articles.

Now all you need to do is find that person that really loves to write...