Recently, We were asked a question from a online store business owner, and it was such a good question that we wanted to share the answer with our blog readers.  The question is as follows...

I am trying to get a better handle on our SEO. I'm being asked by other people in our company what is being done monthly in terms of SEO and I can't answer the question. I see blog articles and Facebook posts, but why can't you show me that I am ranking better for the specific keywords that I want to rank higher for? It gets frustrating when it seems everything I search, whether a specific item or generic (but relevant) term, we are either several pages deep or not at all.

To best answer your question, let's start by saying that we need to remember that even from the early days of search engines, they always tried to rank websites based on "popularity", "authority" and "trust".

This is still true today, but the playing field is different because technology and consumer behavior has changed.

Back in the early days, "authority and popularity" were determined by how many people linked to you and shared your content, and "trust" was determined basically by the "honor system". The search engines trusted that you were writing good content, using proper meta tags, and had a user friendly site structure.

It didn't take long for people to start gaming the system. Websites popped up that sold links to help in your quest for authority, and people started using tools to count the number of keywords on their pages. Merchants learned that they could game the system by basically being an "untrustworthy blow hard". You could build a page that sounded like it was written by a three year old, put a hyperlink on it, and it had value.

SEO firms came out of the woodwork that would promise that you would rank number one for a given keyword or keywords, and guess what - for the most part, they were right. After a few months of building content laden with hyperlinks and anchor text, they were able to achieve this goal. People in foreign countries, countries with much lower costs of labor, became paramount in building these trashy websites. Merchants were excited - just coughing up a few hundred dollars to buy these garbage links was enough to allow them to now dominate the keywords that are targeted to their niche, easy to rank for, and are 100% free..

Time moved on, technology got better, consumer's behavior has changed, and these merchants quickly saw their stronghold on Google and Bing disappear. The search engines were able to create algorithms that were able to expose link farms (i.e. - websites that little to no value other then to provide links). The search engines were also able to determine the "grade level" at which an article or block of text was written. No longer would a link from a website of pure gibberish work to help accellerate your keywords. People began to embrace "social media", and browse the internet while logged in to Google, Facebook, Bing, etc. This was the beginning of the search engines ability to determine real human behavior, instead of that of someone just hoping to game the system.

So what does this all mean for SEO today?  Here are 10 tips and suggestions...  (of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands of points to consider, but here are a few to get you started)...

  1. Any SEO firm that promises that you will rank higher for specific keywords is not playing by the rules and you should run, not walk away.

  2. For SEO purposes, it's all about QUALITY and NOT QUANTITY.

  3. Do not attempt to measure your success by keyword ranking. Measure your SEO success by increases in traffic over time.

  4. Do not expect to be an overnight sensation. Pretend your website is someone you just met - how long does it take for that person to earn your trust.

  5. Work on your website's content a little bit every day. The search engines look for trends that appear abnormal. It is not normal for a person, or even a group of people to update 2000 pages in one day. Be real.

  6. Link building is very important, (I.E., trying to build popularity) - but do not purchase links. Look for bloggers in your area of expertise that are willing to do product reviews, or be a "guest blogger" (share your experience and ask others to let you share your experience on their blogs, or websites).

  7. Embrace social media. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are wonderful vehicles that allow people share your content, but don't forget - these are real people on the other end of your posts, so posting useless information or posts that are commercial in nature are not going to help you. Every "like or share" is a vote.

  8. Even though the person who is doing your SEO is performing "tasks", you are paying this person for their knowledge. Make sure you hire someone who is knowledgeable, and let them do their thing.  You obviously do not do SEO for a living, there is a reason why you hired them.  If you know how to do SEO better yourself, then do it yourself.

  9. SEO is a strategy. It is about how you are going to make your website the most popular, most authoritative, and most trustworthy place on the web where people want to go for products or information. SEO is a work in progress. It is never complete!  If you expect instant results, you will be disappointed. At the same time, if you don't have someone in charge of your SEO, you will be even more disappointed.

  10. If you feel the need to "buy your way to the top" for instant gratification, use Google AdWords or Bing AdCenter. Nothing good in life comes for free. On the same token, if you do pay for advertising, make sure your website looks good, is easy to navigate, and looks trustworthy - otherwise, you're just wasting your time, and money.

If this post helps even one person understand that in order to be successful on the web, you need to be patient and work hard - We've done our job. 

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