I was all set to write a post about how website owners are constantly looking for the Holy Grail, and then I ran across Jill Whalen’s SEO post last week… I guess great minds think alike. (Wishful thinking? Perhaps…)
I’ve given (and watched) numerous seminars on SEO, link building, viral marketing, and social media, and they all have a common thread. The audience is typically dominated by folks with websites (either techs or businesspeople) all looking for The Holy Grail. So what is the holy grail?
It’s the Magic Bullet of the internet, the One Sure-Fire Formula that will get you tons of traffic, increased sales, and multitudes of karmic goodness. It’s the biggest secret on the internet, and they’re going to get somebody to tell them if it kills them.
The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t exist. There is no magic bullet for achieving these aims. In fact, at most of the seminars the speaker says this pretty early on. Does that discourage the attendees? Nope, they keep looking for it. Why? Because the Real Holy Grail is hard work, alot more so than the mythical one.
The Real SEO Holy Grail can be condensed into four simple parts – simple because it’s easy to describe, not because they’re simple to do.
- Good keywords – Keyword research is the foundation of good SEO, it’s what drives everything else. If you pick the wrong keywords, it doesn’t matter how well you optimize. Spend some time (and money, if necessary) to get this right.
- Good structure – Get a good domain name, one that’s easy to communicate on the phone and that’s descriptive of what you do. (If you have to spell your URL, you probably could have picked a better one.) Architect the site so that it’s easy for visitors to understand your message, and to find what they’re looking for. Don’t use tables, unless you actually need them. (CSS does more than just define fonts.)
- Good syntax – Do all the good things that programmers are supposed to do with your web pages – don’t be a sloppy codemonkey. Try to validate with W3C (but don’t go crazy about it.)
- Good content – This is the one people don’t want to hear, but possibly THE most important item to SEO and link building. Write good content, and write it often. Search engines and visitors place value on good content, and linkers link to content that’s worth linking to. Hire a professional writer, if you can’t write well yourself. Write often, then write some more. Did I mention to write?
There is, of course, more to SEO than just this simplistic viewpoint. However, these four parts together form The Real Holy Grail for SEO. For those willing to put in the work, the results will speak for themselves. For the rest of you, I’ll be seeing you at the next seminar.