About PM4Web

The PM4Web blog was born as an outlet to return knowledge back to the web development community. My goal is to share my experiences as a project manager from over the years in a manner which helps you succeed with your own projects.

25 June, 2010

SEO 101 - What to Tell Non-technical Clients

Explaining the absolute basics of SEO to non-technical clients

This article was born as a result of a question I'm often asked by clients. The question is usually along the lines of "how do I get my site to rank well on Google?" People generally know SEO is important, but they often don't understand how it relates to their own website.

A caveat before I go any further; I do take some creative license when explaining SEO. The liberties I take may cause a web developer to say "hey, that's not strictly accurate". Please keep in mind my explanations and examples are designed for lay people, not a lecture hall full of computing students.

Sometimes to answer a question you have to take a step back (in order to provide context). I believe this is the case when explaining SEO. Once a decent foundation is laid, the chances for an explanation to sink-in improve greatly.

So where do you begin when a client asks "how do I do SEO on my website?" As technology suppliers we often take for granted just how comfortable we have become with the web. Living in an online world can almost become second nature for some of us. This is the first key when explaining SEO to someone new to the topic - don't assume they're as comfortable with technology as you are.

Words that WorkThe second rule may seem obvious, but it should be stated none-the-less; you don't want to be condescending when explaining SEO. There definitely is an art to teaching without making someone feel stupid. The specifics of this are beyond the scope of this article, but a good starting point is a book by Frank Luntz called Words that Work (it's about marketing and how successful communication is achieved).

A good place to start is by identifying the two major aspects of SEO: on-page and off-page SEO. Much of what happens with on-page SEO is controlled by the web developer. When a website is being created the idea is to code pages in a way which 'pleases' Google.

Google periodically comes along and spiders every website it can find (nb. sites generally have to be submitted to Google for indexing). Spidering is the process by which Google trawls through all the pages it can reach and catalogues them for searching purposes. The amount of time between spidering can vary from weeks (for a new website) to hours (for a popular website).

You won't be able to explain all the techniques available for achieving good on-page SEO, you would be there forever if you tried. Instead, you need to give a couple of examples. Examples are paramount when attempting to explain a topic that's completely new to a person. For instance, you could say page titles need to be unique and descriptive. If a website has details about a cell phone, a page title like 'Nokia N97 mini' would be better than 'Cell Phone Specs'.

This is a good point at which to make a distinction between what a developer does to achieve good on-page SEO and what a client needs to do. Arguably the most important concept to discuss is keyword richness. Again, this is best conveyed with a simple example. You could make-up a scenario about a website which sells hammers. In one version of the scenario the website's homepage has the following text: "our hammers are made with the finest materials. They are award winning and manufactured at our plant in Belgium". The other version of the text would read as follows: "our hammers are manufactured with the finest materials. Winner of the 2009 best hammer award and created at our factory in Belgium especially designed for producing the best hammers in the world". Notice how many more times the word 'hammer' is used in the second version. The name of the product (or service) being promoted should be mentioned on the website as often as possible - within reason. Be sure to warn of the dangers of keyword-stuffing. Going overboard with keywords could actually have a detrimental effect on search engine ranking (i.e. Google can actually detect when someone is over using keywords on a page).

If you wanted to recommend a simple on-page SEO strategy for increasing traffic, you could suggest providing 'value add' information. This would be information which may not be directly related to the client's business making money, but which would be helpful to their customers. For example, if the client sells bikes, they could provide maps of cycling tracks around the local area. Each time a person comes to the site for track information, there is the potential to show them products available for purchase.

To explain off-page SEO, you could start by saying it's about getting the word out there, getting known on the Internet. The more websites that talk about you, the more you move up in Google's ranking. Also, it's better to be name-dropped by a 'relevant' website than one that has nothing to do with your industry.

What do I mean by relevant? By way of comparison, imagine you have a bike store; if another bike shop refers to you, that carries more weight than say a furniture manufacturer referring to you. Google is aware of logical similarities, it 'knows' that tables and chairs have little to do with bikes.

Being name dropped by someone prominent and relevant is what's needed for good ranking. The trick is figuring out ways to get other related, preferably high-profile, websites to mention your website. Obviously, a direct competitor won't want to mention you on their website (that wouldn't make sense), but someone who would benefit from mentioning you would. For example, a tourism related website may be very interested in talking about you if you own a motel and are running a special offer.

dilbert - seo

In simple terms, it boils down to this: if everyone is talking about you on the web, than you must be the best source of information for your chosen area. If you are the 'go-to' person for your industry, Google will direct people to your website. After-all, Google only succeeds as a search engine if it's sending people to the right place.

Join RSS FeedSubscribe to RSS Feed.

1 comment:

  1. internet marketing is one of the precious way to get the products popularized in the market. Thank you so much for sharing it. Internet Marketing


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.