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In this course, search engine optimization (SEO) expert Peter Kent walks step-by-step through the process of reviewing the content and markup of an existing web site to improve its ranking in search engine results. This course offers a consultant's take on how to analyze each component—from keywords to content to code—and determine what improvements are necessary to become more visible to search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google.
This course was updated on 10/12/2012.
Sometimes SEO is not the problem with your site. Web site viewers can fickle beasts, so your site must have certain aspects worked out before SEO will make a difference. Let me give you a couple of examples from my experience to prove my point. A few years ago, a new client came to me and said, "We need more search engine traffic." So I took a look at the client's web site, and I said, "No you don't. You need a new web site." The site looks something like the one you can see now, and it turned out the client actually had a fair bit of traffic, but he wasn't getting many calls.
At the time, he was selling only over the phone. When he did get calls, he got a lot of questions. People wanted to know where he got his products and whether they were any good. There is a saying in Texas, 'that dog won't hunt,' and it refers to a bad idea or something that simply won't work. When I see web sites like this, I think of that phrase, 'that dog won't hunt'. It just won't work. It doesn't matter how much traffic you get to your site. It's not going to succeed. "Who built this site," I asked this client? "Your nephew, office manager?" "Not quite the office manager," he told me. "It was Joe, the warehouse manager." So we rebuilt the site and immediately, to use the client's words, the phone started ringing off the hook.
What's more, the callers weren't calling with questions, they were calling with orders. You need to honest with yourself about this issue. Is your site the dog that won't hunt? Is your site unprofessional looking and downright ugly? An ugly or unprofessional-looking site won't work well. Your site is your face to the world and if it looks like it was built by an amateur, it conveys the impression that your business is run by amateurs. Just the other day, a friend who is looking for a photographer for her wedding told me that she's looking online, but when she lands on an amateurish-looking web site she just clicks the back button.
She knows the photographer might still be good, but, "Hey," she says, "That's what I do." So here is an experiment. Find five competitors to your site and load them in different tabs in your web browser, then load yours in another tab, and move from tab to tab viewing each site in turn. Now be honest, would you buy from your site? If the answer is no then you are viewing the wrong course. It doesn't matter how much you optimize your site. If it doesn't create the right impression, it won't work. One other issue, usability. If your site is confusing, or makes it hard to get things done, again, optimizing the site may not be the most important thing right now.
There is no point bringing people to the site to get frustrated and leave. So, we'll move on. I wanted to quickly mention these issues because they really are critical, but now we're going to jump to the real subject of this course, encouraging the search engines to rank your site high up in the search results.
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