2. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEO SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEO Table of Contents: 3  Introduction 4  Reason #1: Your Competitors are Doing SEO and They’re Going to Beat You 4  Reason #2: Do SEO Right or Else You’ll Wish You Had 6  Reason #3: Pursuing the Wrong SEO Strategies Can Be a Waste of Resources 7  Conclusion 2OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
3. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEOIntroductionSEO has become a buzzword for website builders and digital marketers but is it all that important to the healthof your business? Won’t great services, products, and customers’ experiences win out in the end? That’s a nicethought, but in the age of the digital marketplace it’s not realistic. It doesn’t matter how good a product you haveor how good a customer experience you can provide. If customers searching online for your products or servicesdon’t find you, you’ll never get the chance to prove your superiority. Hence, SEO is critical and because the In-ternet is in flux, you must be vigilant in maintaining your site’s SEO. There are three main reasons why not doingSEO, or not doing it well, might hurt your business. This white paper will present all three of them with concrete,real-life examples.What is SEO? Whenever you enter a query in a search engine and hit ‘enter’ you receive a list of results containing that queryterm. Users tend to visit websites at the top of this list as they perceive them to be most relevant. Have you everwondered why these websites rank better than others? It is because of a powerful web marketing technique calledSearch Engine Optimization (SEO).Why SEO? The goal of an SEO Campaign is to increase organic traffic and conversions (e.g. Registered Users, Free Trials, Purchase Decisions) on your website. SEO campaigns focus on optimizing content and keywords, improving website page performance and extending the networks of inbound links traffic, all which work in concert to help you achieve your business goals. A typical SEO campaign starts with a focused keyword analysis and the establishment of a target keywords strategy. It aims to optimize new and existing website content and pages, and includes ongoing traffic measurement and analysis. Jumpstart your Search Engine Optimization Campaign in 15 Minutes: »»Watch our SEO Webinar Optify Best Practices at: http://www.optify.net/whitepapers/build-seo-campaign-in-15-minutesReason #1: Your Competitors are doing SEO and They’re Going to Beat YouWithout SEO, a website can get lost amidst the multitudes of others competing for similar customers. With SEO,companies can build a path for web-surfing customers direct to their digital storefront. A classic example of a company that has benefited tremendously from using smart, effective SEO tactics is Amazon.com. If we look atthe online book sales industry as a whole, we can see Amazon has consistently managed to win at the SEO game,which has translated into sales and revenues while putting their competitors at a severe disadvantage.One blog illustrates just how successful Amazon.com has been when it comes to search engine results of popularbooks. The post’s author, Bill Slawski, selected fiction books from the New York Time’s best seller list of 2010. InJanuary of 2011 he typed the names of the books and authors into Google and recorded the Introduction 3OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
4. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEOplacement of the top three retailerswithin the ensuing search results. The Book Title Amazon Barnes Noble Borders chart to your right is fairly indemnify- AMERICAN ASSASINS 1 3 36ing of Amazon’s competition: Slawski BIG GIRL 1 2 30makes a bold statement in titling his CHANGES 1 95 71blog, “Real Problem with BordersBooks is Search.” One month after EVERY LAST ONE 2 14 108the post was written, Borders filed for CRESCENT DAWNS 1 3 2bankruptcy. Was poor SEO entirelyresponsible for their undoing? Most BREATHLESS 1 6 161definitely not. The introduction of GETTING TO HAPPY 3 10 67ebooks was a huge game-changer and INNOCENT 1 9 228there were extraneous factors at playwhich Slawski notes. But, as he pointsout the fact that Border’s best-selling books weren’t being found by online consumers contributed to Border’sdownfall.Just as we can’t attribute Borders’ demise entirely to SEO, nor can we attribute all of Amazon’s success to SEO.That said, Amazon did buttress their SEO position with a few highly effective practices. They facilitated thecreation of great content on their product details pages, leveraged their recommendations software to drive sitecross-links, and built a massive inbound links program using link widgets through their Affiliate network pro-gram. These good SEO practices gave them an advantage when customers were seeking a specific book titleonline. While Borders filed for bankruptcy, Amazon’s sales and revenues continued to rise. If the book industryis any indication, companies who make SEO a priority will have a definitive leg-up on those do not. You have todecide, do you want to be an Amazon or a Borders? You should assume that even if you aren’t maximizing yourSEO, your competitors are, and they will make the decision for you.Reason #2: Do SEO Right or Else You’ll Wish You HadOf course, like everything, there is a wrong way and a right way to practice good SEO. The right ways, involve strategies that are considered credible and will keep your company in the good graces of search engines. The wrong ways, also known as “black hat” SEO strategies, are considered unethical and punishable by search engines.In the “old days” webmasters filled their meta-tags with brainstormed words. Often the beginning these pageswere sloppy and web surfers would leave these poorly constructed pages as quickly as they came, annoyed thatthey had to weed through poor quality in order to find what they needed.Recently, search engines have gotten smarter, which means increased pressure on web-masters and othercontent providers to provide high quality content that uses the durable elements of SEO in a natural way that willkeep web surfers from floating away onto someone else’s page. Many of the tricks that were once commonplaceon the web are now considered “black hat” and will incite popular search engines such as Google and Bing todrop your site in their rankings. Reason #2: Do SEO Right or Else You’ll WIsh You Had 4OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
5. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEOOne company to be taught a “black hat” lesson was JC Penney. Penney’s strategy consisted of getting a highnumber of inbound links to jcpenney.com with anchor text like “bedding,” “area rugs” and “skinny jeans” fromsites with no content or relevancy around those items. In doing so, they broke one of the cardinal rules of searchengine optimization, which is that the content you create, the pages you build, and the links you acquire shouldbe both natural and relevant. Although many companies use this strategy to drive traffic to their Web sites, it is anextremely risky proposition. The more inclined you are to acquire content or links outside of the search engines’guidelines, the higher the probability you will get penalized (e.g. dropped rankings) or worse – put into the GoogleSandbox, where an entire domain is removed from the search index. “Black Hat” SEO: Tactics To Avoid Link Farms A link farm is a group of Web sites that all link to every other site in the group. The primary purpose of linking schemes is to manipulate search engines, as opposed to adding actual content to the Web. This behavior can get you dropped or banned entirely from Google. Cloaking Search engines look at all text contained on a given Web page and use it to determine the relevance of that page to a given search query. What search engines can see and what a person can see on a given Web page, however, are not always the same. Cloaking involves adding text that is the same color as the background, thus making it invisible to the human eye, while keeping it visible for search engines. Doorway Pages and Redirects Doorway pages are fake pages (a/k/a spider food) that are designed to cater to search algorithms, but are never actually seen by users. Doorway pages, and their sister tactic, redirects, are used for the sole purpose of tricking search engines to get a higher ranking. This practice is strictly forbidden by almost all search engines, and the penalties for those who get caught are stiff. Irrelevant links Some sites will allow businesses to buy links with whatever anchor text they want, regardless of whether it is relevant to what they are actually selling. Among other questionable practices, J. C. Penney bought links from sites that had nothing whatsoever to do with bedding, area rugs, or skinny jeans. When uncertain as to whether or not an SEO strategy will land you in hot water, ask yourself, “Would I be ableto defend my actions if asked?” If the answer to this question is unequivocally yes, then you’re fine. If not, steerclear. Remember your brand is your biggest long-term asset. This is especially true online where the speed ofconversations is increasing at an exponential rate. If you want people to do business with you online, you need topresent your brand in the most favorable light possible which means employing only above-board, “white hat” SEOpractices. Reason #2: Do SEO Right or Else You’ll Wish You Had 5OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
6. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEO “White Hat” SEO: Durable Elements Basic Keyword Rules Basic Keyword SEO Rules » Identify your target keyword(s) for each page » Use the target keyword in the page name/URL » Use the target keyword in the first four words of your title tag » Keep your title tag to less than 65 characters and make it unique » Use a single H1 style tag for your page headline » Include your target keyword in the H1 tag » Make sure the body copy includes the target keyword » Write a unique, compelling meta description that includes the focus keywords » Create a network of cross-linked pages wherever target keywords are used » Use alt-text and descriptive file names for your images Inbound Quality Links Keep building your inbound links (using white hat practices!) through content syndication and promotions, create unique content that people would want to reference and link to, and build relationship with other web writers, so they will be aware of your content. Authority Authority signals determine how Google will treat a domain and an inbound link from a different domain or a social signal (retweet, link within a tweet, Like) for a specific page in its ranking considerations. Build your authority by creating unique content and follow white-hat practices. Build relationships with other sites of authority and pursue links from them, as it will boost your authority. User Experience Keep your site updated, measure your bounce rate and page load speed and create clear alignment between the keywords you target, your content and the experience you’re creating for your visitors. Read more about the durable elements of SEO Reason #3: Pursuing the Wrong SEO Strategies Can Be a Waste of ResourcesContent serves as a way to draw people to your site—great content can spread far and wide drawing new visitorsto your site, improving your SEO and expanding your lead generation potential. We’ve established that like Amazon you’d be wise to pursue SEO in order to stay ahead or at the very least, abreast of your competition. You’dbe even wiser to employ sound “white hat” SEO practices so that your site and brand don’t get penalized. Last,but not least, when pursuing these kosher practices, be sure you are getting good advice. Poor advice might notland you in hot-water like “black hat” tactics, but it can cause you to spend time and energy on SEO strategiesthat don’t yield results. Reason #3: Pursuing the Wrong SEO Strategies Can Be a Waste of Resources 6OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
7. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEOHere’s a great example of misleading SEO advice, which at first glance seems reasonable, but according to expertsis irrelevant. In this blog post webmaster Jake Ludington claims the latest version of Google was penalizing hissite for sending out an email newsletter with a large number of non-active followers. In his advice to other web-masters, Ludington recommends they scrub their email distribution lists and pull any “dead” subscribers in orderto improve their rankings. According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, Ludington’s site wasmarked manually as spam for prior bad link building practices and its drop in the rankings had “nothing to do with[his] site’s email reputation.” Additional SEO experts concur that “Email marketing does not impact your rankingsgenerally.”Let’s say, like some of his blog followers, you were to follow Ludington’s SEO advice without realizing itwas erroneous. If so, your energies would be misspent. You’d be wasting valuable time on a tactic that would haveno effect on your SEO results. Granted, no one will fault you for scrubbing your email distribution list. You won’t bepenalized. But, if you have limited resources to spend specifically on SEO improvements, you will be squanderingthem. The lesson? SEO “advisors” are a dime a dozen but actual experts, who have data to back up their claims,are much harder to come by. If SEO is not your core competency, you’d be wise to seek out resources who have quantifiable, proven results.ConclusionSEO may seem like an aside, which you’d prefer not to have to spend time or resources on. However, not optimiz-ing your site for search engines will put you at a competitive disadvantage. While you may not need a dedicatedSEO specialist on staff, you do need to know the differences between “white hat” and “black hat” strategies andonly pursue the ones that are viewed as legitimate. If not, you risk tarnishing your search results and your brandintegrity. Finally, when setting out to employ SEO and make changes to your site, be sure to make moves ground-ed in quantifiable research and results. If you don’t know what changes will yield real results, seek out credibleexperts that will. SEO is an online marketing strategy that companies should pursue wholeheartedly, but with aconservative approach to methodology. Conclusion 7OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
8. ® SEO 101: The Dangers of Not Doing SEOAbout OptifyOptify delivers an integrated top-of-the-funnel solution for marketers responsible for fuelling their company’sgrowth. Optify helps B2B marketers reach more buyers and generate more demand for their products or servicesmonth-after-month. The Optify Inbound Marketing Software Suite brings together the enterprise-class SEO andsocial marketing tools that marketers need to increase awareness of their business, influence buyers across socialnetworks, and engage with prospects at the earliest point of their buyer’s journey.Optify’s solution includesInbound Demand: create a sustainable flow of inbound leads into yourmarketing funnel with enterprise-class SEO and social marketing.Sales Enablement: help sales reach prospects and engage with them INBOUND DEMANDearly in the sales process with visitor intelligence and prospect alerts. Enterprise-class SEO and social marketing to reachTracking Analytics: get more of the prospects you want with full in- more buyers and generate more leads.sight into what influences your buyers and the path they take to find andevaluate you during their research process.Optify offers a fully-featured free trial; learn more at www.optify.net SALES ENABLEMENT Visitor intelligence and prospect alerts help sales reach prospects while they’re hot. TRACKING ANALYTICS Insight into what influences your buyers so you can get more buyers into your funnel. About Optify 8OPTIFY, INC. 710 2ND AVE, SUITE 840 SEATTLE, WA 98104 WWW.OPTIFY.NET 1-877-2-OPTIFY © 2012 OPTIFY, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.