Each and every day 180,000 new websites hit the web which means that the online world is growing at the rate of one hundred and twenty five websites each minute (which works out roughly to two websites every second). To put this in context, by the time you have finished reading this article a further 1250 websites will have been added to the web.
If you are reading this article then you have a strong interest in your website being found by those who are most likely to be interested in what it has to offer. This basic premise lies at the core of the formula for success of every website and online business and it also underpins everything that has to do with search engine optimisation (SEO).
In a perfect world you should not really have to do anything to get your website found. After all you know that what you have is of value to people who need it and the onus for getting your website to them should be on the shoulders of search engines.
Unfortunately the world is less than perfect. Search engines are still fine-tuning their algorithms. The promise of the semantic web where search engine algorithms that will run very close to a true artificial intelligence model that will be able to make a human-like judgement of a website and its content and deliver it to those looking for it are still some time away in the future. This means that what we have today are mathematical approximations of artificial intelligence, in other words complex mathematical models (which is what a search engine algorithm is) that use elements of a web page to approximate the mechanics (but not the essence) of the human web page evaluation experience.
Search engine algorithms assess a website at lightening speed, measuring things like keywords and their density (and yes, an over-optimised website brings up red flags and is penalised rather than rewarded), the age of a website, the number of websites with similar theme linking to it, the traffic a website gets for a particular keyword and the number of outgoing links a page has, and their destination.
Search engine optimisation has often been called an art rather than a science but, in truth, when performed correctly, it is a time-consuming, incredibly complex but very logical process of ticking all the right boxes and doing the right thing in order to get the desired result.
Think like a search engine
The trick is to approach your website exactly like a search engine would. Does, for instance, your landing page deliver value in term of information and services to the online user? Is it loaded with the correct keywords and does it have a natural flow in its content or is it overloaded and looks like a spam site?
Are there links from the landing page to other parts of the website and do the other pages of the website link back to the landing page as a matter of course?
These are exactly the questions you need to ask each time you create a potential landing page for your online visitors on your website.
Think like an online visitor
At the same time, in order to succeed, you need to also address the needs of your online visitors. It’s no good having a landing page that acts like a honeypot to search engines and makes them send you hundreds of online visitors if they, in turn, need to spend painfully long minutes trying to figure out your website’s navigation and how to access that which they need.
This is exactly why web design and SEO are so difficult. They require expertise and more than a little tweaking in order to get right because then they offer you the best rewards in terms of search engine visibility, online customer numbers and conversions into customers.
Get the combination right however, learn from your mistakes and adapt and the rewards are truly humongous. Much as the web is growing daily in terms of competition it is growing even faster in terms of the number of online users and potential customers you can reach and it is exactly this which makes the stakes so high and the rewards so handsome!