SEO Lessons Learned The Hard Way: Three Big Ones

simon-lockeSimon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO, CommunicationsMatch

We can’t be experts in everything. As Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” When we do and we’re not an expert, inevitably we screw up. But by doing, we learn.

In an ideal world, we’d be able to hire or consult with all the experts we need. But then, of course, we wouldn’t have the motivation to invest the time it takes to develop new skills.

I recently interviewed Founder and CEO of GVATE, a New York-based SEO consultancy, Seun Ajanwachuku (he does CommunicationsMatch’s SEO). Seun told me that the #1 mistake companies make is to start thinking about SEO once a website has been built. This is a big no, no.

SEO Lesson 1

Lesson #1 learned the hard way. When we built CommunicationsMatch, I started to think about SEO far before the end of the first phase of the build, but I thought about it as an add on. That’s not the way to do it. Start with SEO from the beginning. It will save a lot of time and help you get higher in the search rankings much more quickly.

SEO Lesson 2

Lesson #2 relates to content. What’s important about content is quality. Overdo key word repetition or hurl anything up on a website and it could hurt your rankings. High quality content can be characterized as article or information that people come into the site to read. The more people who read what you write the better the boost to rankings. The lesson here is simple – write interesting things (ideally articles that are 1,000 words in length, because they will be favored by the algorithm), not what you think will be found by a search engine. That’s too simple. And, by the way, build in images and video from the start.

SEO Lesson 3

Here’s the last biggie. Making sure site page URLs are as simple and related to the pages they describe is critical. Having URLs with numbers or without the full title of an article, for example, will make that content far harder for Google’s bots to index. Meaning, simply, it will not be found. If you are writing content to drive traffic – this can be a killer.

For SEO experts this will all be blindingly obvious, but for the rest of us, thinking about these three things as you work on your company’s or a clients’ website is critical. They will help you drive organic search, and save you time and money.

There are a couple of sites that illustrate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices when it comes to content and images. Google’s WiFi and Amazon’s Echo Dot page layout (scroll down) sites are simple, image rich and designed for search. Of course, our websites don’t have the backing of the two largest players in the industry. But, taking a look at these sites is instructive.

Why you need to speak to the SEO Experts

Here’s my last takeaway. There are some communications sectors (arguably all) where no matter how quickly we think we can learn, it is very important to get the perspective of experts. SEO is a discipline that requires the insights and perspective of people who live in the land of wonk. I love the land of wonk.

By the way, while many web designers may well have SEO expertise, don’t count on it. It’s important to ask, and engage dedicated SEO experts, or you may find you have a lovely website, but not so many visitors.

On CommunicationsMatch we have a growing number of firms and professionals listed across communications disciplines. Please check out the site. If you are interested in reading about some of email lesson learned the hard way, here’s an article I wrote for Dotmailer.

About the Author: Simon Erskine Locke is Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM a communications-industry focused search tool that makes the process of finding PR and communications-related agencies more efficient. Search is free as is listing for qualified agencies. Watch our introductory video. With more than 4,600 U.S. and International agencies and professionals listed, CommunicationsMatch is a powerful resource for businesses seeking communications services providers with expertise in areas including: public relations, internal communications, government affairs, investor relations, content marketing, social media, SEO, website development, photography and video. Prior to founding CommunicationsMatch, Locke held senior Corporate Communications roles at Prudential Financial, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank and founded communications consultancies.

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