What do Hot Dogs and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Have in Common?
After a long and hard thought process and numerous people asking me to write about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), I couldn’t figure out the best way to convey this intricate setup because there really is no clear cut way to set this up. It’s sort of like Emeril “Kicking it up a notch!,” by adding a few pinches or Paula Dean saying “Alright y’all, we gonna add a couple handfuls of this”. After speaking with my friend Shawn, who told me SEO is a sports car (depending on what your site looks like), but a better analogy would be comparing it to a hot dog vendor at a ballpark. “Hot dogs, get yer’ hot dogs here!” It’s a huge ballpark and unless you’re willing to put in the leg work, carry the right product and provide the right “fix-ins”, then your hot dogs are probably going to get cold (no one wants a cold hot dog).
Do You Have a Cart and Does it Have Wheels? Setting up your Website and Sitemap.
The wave of technology is quickly leaning toward Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress.org and Drupal. These systems have streamlined how we incorporate plugins into our pages and, most importantly, how we are able to be seen. This our cart, our brand, our tray, our footlong. Using a CMS helps search engines grease your wheels to help you get around and get noticed faster by integrating and updating your sitemap.xml file. This file gives the search engines a comprehensive list of your pages so it can effectively check your “Hot Dogs” – your content.
The Fix-ins: “You’ve Got the Right Stuff… Baby!”
I apologize for the 90s boy band quote, but I thought it was relevant. Do you have the right hot dogs and “fix-ins”? Is your content unique and accurately describes your product? Does your social/electronic media support your message? People want a “Mom and Pop” feel to their Web experience. This includes unique content, compelling articles, dynamic graphics and an altogether easy-to-use interface.
I’ve talked with many clients that just want a Web presence and want to steal someone else’s content and use it ad their own. This is a BIG “No-No” people. We’re talking about “Unique” content. Stolen content sends a “Red Flag” to the search engines and you could possibly be blacklisted. Utilizing a professional writer may be in your future if this was your initial plan.
Setting up content with Social Media adds an extra “oomph”. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn have given us numerous tools to integrate into your website, but does that really make you look credible? This could be the dijon mustard on your footlong if it’s maintained and updated periodically. These platforms are each unique and can be overwhelming for the faint of heart. Utilizing a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress (“.org”, not “.com”) gives an extra dynamic to your content and presents ease of Social Media integration. It has the ability to distribute your content effectively to the said platforms. Using a CMS gives the end user an interface to stay up to date on their content. In addition, in WordPress’ latest update they integrated the most powerful SEO tool through Yoast SEO. CMS platforms like Drupal and WordPress also offer many unique plugins that can set your website apart and help you effectively distribute and track links.
“I’ll Help Sell Your Hamburgers if You Help Sell My Hot Dogs”: Link Distribution and Networking
Like anything else, we all need a little help. Developing a network with professional contacts can help expedite your placement within a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This is what we call a “ping back” or a “track back”. There are two types of ping backs or track backs:
- Advertisement: An advertisement is anything that is strategically placed on another website, linking back to your site.This can be accomplished by establishing relationships with other relevant companies or creating an advertising campaign with Google AdWords and/or Google AdSense (to advertise on your site).
- Share: Unique content is our name and sharing is our game. We want to develop awesome content that people have the urge to share, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or on another blog.
This way of content distribution is a two-way street. In a trade you must give to get, so share the love.
GPS on Your Cart?: Locating Your Audience
Now think of the Web in a global perspective with the “Mom and Pop” attitude. Each website is like your shop. Can we find your place or even know it’s a store if there is no sign out front? Doubtful. Sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask.com and YouTube provide a GPS and street maps to your site within their respective developer sections. Google Places references multiple sites to ensure that you are in fact a store and are located properly. If nothing else, registering with Google Places will give you recognition on a local SERP. Please note that if there are multiple stores/shops like yours around your area Google does not guarantee you will show up within that results page, but it definitely doesn’t hurt your case.
The power of Google and their Business Solutions is amazing. The more of their services you utilize, the more recognition you get. It makes sense. Think of it like a hot dog rewards program; the more you buy/use the more rewards you get. Insider Tip: Here is a list of their services we use and how we take advantage of them:
Gmail (gmail.com): Without a Gmail account integrating the below can be a bit messy and in some cases, virtually impossible. We recommend “firstname.lastname@example.org” to make things simple. Take advantage of their Documents and Calendar, which you can easily embed within your website to keep your intended audience aware of your events.
Analytics (google.com/analytics): This gives us a detailed description of the “Who, What, Where, When” and so much more insight to the usage of our website.
YouTube (youtube.com): Yes, it is a Google product. It provides video support for our websites and even gives location settings for each video and CAN and SHOULD be optimized for search engines. You can find more on that by checking out “8 Ways to Maximize Your YouTube Marketing Results” through SocialMediaExaminer.com.
AdWords (adwords.google.com): Create unique and customized ads on multiple platforms, including Facebook.
AdWords Express (google.com/adwords/express): Develop local advertising campaigns.
AdSense (google.com/adsense): Earn money by advertising on your site.
Offers (google.com/offers/business): You’ve heard of LivingSocial and Groupon. Google Offers advertises your product, which you offer at a discounted rate to drive people to your establishment.
Trends (google.com/trends): Find out what topics are “trending” in your industry.
Keyword Generator (adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal): Set up meta tags knowing what keywords are actually being searched. This is a tool within AdWords, but can ultimately be a powerful tool when setting up a page.
In addition to the ‘big boys’, there are THOUSANDS of sites to help you gain recognition, including industry forums, sitemap distribution services, unique search engines which provide other services like streaming video that can help you. So, do your research. In the meantime, check out these helpful sites:
SnapSitemap: Sitemap submission service. Note that the Premium is recommended for sites with page counts exceeding 16.
LinkedIn: Great forum site. Professional networking hasn’t been easier.
Ustream: Stream video from one of your events, embed it into your website and make your channel private or public.
Yahoo! Business: Provides many web services.
Bing Registration: Register your site with Bing. Please note that you need to setup a Microsoft account.
Don’t be fooled by the sites you have to pay for. The reason we do what we do is because it’s FREE (or at least low cost). So bounce your ideas off of me here and take advantage of as many open forums as possible. If you need a site review or need SEO services you can always contact me at Travis@Loaded-Designs.com.