If you want to get found you must do the work

There is only one ‘site’ in the world that magically attracts visitors with no marketing. It’s called the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA. 😀 “If you build it they will come” only works here — it does not work with websites.

At the risk of bursting your bubble, if YOU want to get found YOU must do the work or find someone to do it for you! In my work as a web developer, content marketer and search engine optimizer, I find that there are three essential things that every website must cover to increase the chances of getting found in search. They are:

  1. Search Engine Optimization [SEO]
  2. Content marketing
  3. Social media

SEO

Search engine optimization actually has 3 subsections. They are:

  1. Technical SEO
  2. On page SEO
  3. Off page SEO

Breaking things down a little further, you can find all the elements of these three SEO issues in this periodic table of SEO elements from Search Engine Land.

Technical SEO tactics include but are not limited to the following

  • Adding a site to the Google Search Console
  • ‘Forcing’ Google to crawl the site and eliminating Google crawl errors
  • Adding a sitemap to the Google Search Console
  • Adding structured data to the Google Search Console
  • Eliminating 404 errors
  • Using 301/302 redirects
  • Eliminating duplicate content and canonical issues
  • Website speed
  • Mobile-friendly status

And that is just the start! However, if you want to be sure that Google can clearly understand your site, either you or someone acting on your behalf must address these issues. Once your site is cleared for technical SEO, you can proceed to creating content or blogging with on page SEO in mind. For on page SEO, I rely heavily on one plugin from Yoast called the Yoast SEO plugin. In the following two screenshots, you can get a feel for how Yoast ‘coaches’ me through the writing process by making sure I use on page SEO in my posts. You can click the images to enlarge.

Here is a partial list of some of the on page SEO issues you need to track whether or not you use Yoast:

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Schema markup tags
  • Open Graph Tags
  • Sitemaps
  • Htags

Perhaps now you understand why I let Yoast coach me through the process! Finally, we come to off page SEO. Off page SEO is a ‘simple, but not easy’ process of getting links with more authority than your site to link to you. There are legitimate and illegitimate ways to do this. Do list your site in online directories, establish Google publishership, etc. but don’t hire someone who promises you 5,000 high quality inbound links on Twitter. Google doesn’t like those kind of things and you may be penalized because of it. Instead, consider these insights by Andy Crestodina and Brian Dean who offers the ‘Definitive Guide to Linkbuilding‘ and then chart your course carefully!

What are the consequences of not doing the work?

A recent study from Raven Tools indicated that the average site has approximately 4,500 errors. I asked Jon Henshaw, co-founder of Raven what is the consequence of not fixing technical and on-page SEO errors. Here’s his response:

Many people start their SEO process with content and link building, but they should really start their optimization with their site first. The real life consequences of not fixing on-page SEO issues first is that their site probably won’t rank as well as it could.
It’s okay if there are some things you can’t fix on your site. In fact, that’s a reality for most webmasters. But fixing as many issues as possible could mean the difference between showing up on page one versus page two, or showing up above or below a competitor. If you can address all or most of the essential on-page SEO items I listed in this presentation, then you should be good to go.
The Site Auditor study we released is meant to be a wake up call for SEOs and webmasters. They have a lot of issues with their sites, and if they don’t fix most or all of them, then they’re ultimately leaving money on the table for themselves and for their clients.”

Ponder this for awhile — “fixing as many issues as possible could mean the difference between showing up on page one versus page two, or showing up above or below a competitor” — and you’ll understand why I’m so passionate about helping clients fix the technical issues with their sites!

Content Marketing

When — and only when — you have addressed SEO should you begin your content marketing campaign. Until you are certain that your site is being crawled by Google and that you have done everything you can to remove barriers to communication should you engage in content marketing — unless you do, your site will have all the impact of a billboard in the desert.

Unfortunately, implementing all the articles about X number of things you can do to improve your content marketing are somewhat of an exercise in futility until clear communication with Google is established and verified and all your effort will have the impact of one hand clapping. Do the work so you know that your efforts will have a return on investment.

Social Media

Although recently Google has made it clear that it really doesn’t include signals from social media in search, social media still plays a vital role in getting your content in front of people who may not see it otherwise. Personally, my favorite social network is Google+ [although I may be in the minority on that one] followed by Twitter. I tend to favorite these two because they are the only ones that Google’s search engine can fully index so whatever I post there may also show up in search. I also use a Facebook Page and LinkedIn page as well. I normally post social media content to my Google+ Page using Buffer and then let another utility called Friendsplus.me automatically post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter automagically.

What are the next steps?

As part of my practice, I offer a free SEO audit that will tell you how your site stacks up including information on the type and number of technical errors you have, the authority of your domain — even information as to how your competition is doing. Follow this link to read more about the offering — then you’ll have the knowledge you need to either fix the technical issues or proceed with your content marketing and social media campaigns with peace of mind knowing your efforts will be rewarded by Google. At the end of the day, your site and content must be in alignment with the Google Webmaster Guidelines; whatever you offer that Google doesn’t rank is lost margin. Whatever you don’t offer that Google does rank is an opportunity for someone who may be producing content that’s not as good as yours but does Google better. Don’t be that guy!

Originally published at toddlohenry.com on October 16, 2015.

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