The search engine has fast become the first step in any users attempt to access content on the web. Businesses and individuals alike have realised the massive potential of delivering your information to peoples web browsers at the click of a button. Targeting higher rankings on search engines, essentially pushing your content closer to the top of the search listings, has spawned an entire industry of it’s own. The act of creating, implementing and monitoring strategies for improving search engine rankings is know as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
I’ve recently been assisting my partner with her SEO strategies for her online perfume retailing website. It seems great prices on perfume, fragrances, aftershaves and gift sets isn’t going to get you to the top of google alone. During this activity, I’ve read several articles on books on SEO, and also recognised how applicable an understanding of SEO could be for Pre-Sales. This may become more evident as we discuss SEO below.
Most professional people know what a search engine is, so we’re not going to go into the basics. If we are going to discuss search engines that are out there we must start with the daddy of all search engines, Google. Google has been so successfully that it’s actually managed to make it’s way into the moderns world’s language as a verb. You can often hear people telling other people to “Google this” or “Google that”. It’s almost become synonymous with the act of using a search engine. In fact, if you submit your content to Google, you will often find it on the other search engines as most actually index the content already provided by Google. It is however worth submitting content to the other engines and monitoring your position there. Other notable engines worth evaluating are Yahoo, Bing and Ask. Each of these with the exception of Ask provide a toolbox of functions you can use to evaluate how your site is viewed by the engine.
All engines aim to index the entire content of the web and serve up that content to users as relevant to the users search term of phrase. Getting to the top of the results list depends on a multitude of factors which we’ll discuss through-out this blog.
Google Page Rank
Google Page Rank is a score given to any particular web page by Google. It rates Google’s view of the importance of the page from 1 to 10. 10 being the most important. Page Rank is a great high-level performance indicator to track will implementing a rank increasing strategy. The Page Rank(PR) of your site can be affected by a number of factors. This includes but is not limited to the number of quality “backlinks” linking to your site from other site in the same community of interest. If the site which is linking to your site has a high PR and is directly relevant to your content then you get more brownie points with Google which will ultimately mean a higher PR for you.
There are a number of different approaches to gaining backlinks through either directory submission, blogs or forums.
Black Hat vs White Hat
As search engines have evolved they’ve become more intelligent. As webmasters have analysed and understood the algorithms behind the rankings during searches, they’ve found ways to exploit them through what are known as Black Hat SEO techniques. An example of a Black SEO technique is using a forum-bot to automatically crawl the web for forums and then spam links to your site. Other examples include hidden links to boost you backlink count.
It’s generally accepted that Black-hat SEO techniques will give you a short term boost in your rankings, but as soon as the search engines work out how they’re being exploited, they’ll find ways to stop it happening and will also penalise your site (in some cases permanently de-listing you from the engine all together).
White Hat SEO techniques try to promote rank increases while adhereing to the rules and guidelines laid out by the search engine.
Content, Content and More Content
Although links to your site are important, the search engines have a major focus on content. They’re tirelessly crawling for new, comprehensive and relevant content. When users enter “keywords” into their search term, the search engine will search for those same keywords in your site. A web page may contain those words in the Page Title, It’s Meta-Information or in the body of the web page. The more frequently those keywords (or phrases appear) the more relevance the search engine attaches to your page for the search. This is not to say that if you repetitively spam your page with the same keywords that you’ll get a higher score. Google’s search algorithms reportedly have over 500k variables which check for repetition and that your content is semantically viable.
I’m Pre-Sales Not Marketing – Why do I need to know this?
Well, Pre-Sales resources are often called upon to assist Marketing in validating and producing collateral. Marketing collateral can come in the form of Datasheets, Brochures, White Papers and Case Studies. All of this information should be published on your company website and if you have an understanding of which keywords and phrases your marketing department are targeting you can write your content accordingly.
Remember that Search Engines are constantly looking for “new” content related to a subject matter. In turn, it’s become more important to produce updates to web page relating to specific areas of interest. Blogs are a great tool for this and you may be asked to write the occasional article to feed new, relevant content up for the search engines consumption.
I’ll re-iterate that Google isn’t the only engine out there, but it’s certainly the most successful at this point. If you optimize for Google, you’re likely to check most of the boxes for the other one’s too.
For further reading and a great overview of increasing site ranking on Google, I’d recommend the following as further reading: