Every business that wants to attract customers from street traffic makes sure to have a highly visible facade and signage. The same is true for companies that want to be noticed on the Internet — for many companies, search engine optimization is the key to visibility to web users searching for products and services with Google.
SEO expert Michael Fleischner, author of the popular advice book “SEO Made Simple,” recently released a fifth edition updated to account for the many changes in the Google search algorithm since the original publication in 2008. The book has sold 30,000 copies.
As an entrepreneur, marketer, and author, Fleischner, a Robbinsville resident, is the founder of Big Fin Solutions, a marketing strategy and services company that merged with Innovation Garden, a Princeton Based venture capital firm, in 2014. He currently works for Caliper, an assessment and talent management company located in Carnegie Center, as vice president of marketing. He has appeared on the Today Show, ABC World News, Bloomberg Radio, and featured in USA Today and has written a variety of marketing related books. He currently serves as president of the American Marketing Association’s New Jersey chapter.
In SEO Made Simple, Fleischner details how Google’s algorithm has evolved over the years. Below is an excerpt:
Every day people are using Google to research products, services, companies, and even individuals. Where certain websites, blogs, and other digital assets appear in search results isn’t entirely based on chance. In fact, entire industries have been developed to improve the placements of what you see in search results. Enter the art and science of search engine optimization.
Through a variety of techniques, search engine results can be influenced. Getting your website ranked in the number one position for a given search term isn’t quite as easy as it once was, but through a focused optimization effort you can greatly improve your rankings. In addition, with an integrated strategy that combines organic optimization and paid online advertising, you can also influence the extent of your page one online presence.
An Evolving Digital Landscape. In addition to traditional optimization methods, it’s important to understand how Google search results have changed and evolved. Search used to be simple. Buy a URL with your keyword in it and you were done. Over the past number of years however, Google has been focused on improving the search experience and has added a layer of complexity to search engine rankings like never before. In addition to penalizing sites for using inappropriate optimization techniques, they’ve simultaneously enhanced the search experience for those browsing the web. This has created a significant difference in how people use search engines and the results they create for those browsing the web.
With the advent of video hosting sites, blogs, and real-time social media, Google has enhanced the search experience. A typical page of search results may include a popular video from YouTube, a news feed from a leading news site, a popular reference or image. Your search results page is now a variety of sources — no longer a single list of Web pages.
This creates a more robust experience for those using the Google engine but requires proactive management for anyone interested in SEO and online reputation management. Search engine optimization has become less about getting a single site ranked in the number one position and more about acquiring multiple listings on a search results page. As seen below, typical Google results are dynamic, showing websites, news, local results, images and more.
Due to the advent of universal search, and the integration on local, search engine optimization has changed dramatically. Instead of just optimizing for a single website, I recommend a focus on optimizing not just a website, but any digital asset you create including things like press releases, social media profiles, videos, and images.
The more assets you optimize, the greater your presence on search result pages for a given keyword phrase. This takes additional effort but not much additional knowledge. When you understand the basics of search engine optimization you can use slight modifications to optimize virtually anything online.
Upgrades to the Google interface have enhanced the user experience from start to finish. Google Instant, suggestive text, and updates to Google My Business means that users can access information more quickly and more precisely than previously thought possible. Google has placed much more emphasis on local search thanks to the explosive growth of mobile search and portable electronic devices that pinpoint a searchers location. This has caused a fundamental shift on how search results are returned to an individual.
If you own a website or blog, fundamental changes like those noted above can be a true benefit. If your website content is relevant to a user’s search, robust, and engaging, you may be able to acquire multiple listings for a given keyword. Coupled with the fact that your video, news, and other media may appear on page one in addition to your website means that you can truly dominate the first page of Google, or any other search engine for that matter.
Understanding how Google has evolved is essential to getting and keeping your website ranked in the top positions for chosen keywords. Google offers many tools to help you along the way in evaluating how well you’ve optimized your site. Resources like Google Webmaster Tools is and Google Analytics are both powerful tools you can use to improve your online presence.
Optimizing your digital assets. There are essentially two parts to any search engine optimization effort: on-page optimization and off-page optimization. On page optimization is what you do on your website to help or hurt your search engine result placements (SERPs). From my perspective, on-page optimization also refers to critical planning steps like understanding your niche, keyword research, and web strategy.
The best part of on-page optimization is that it’s fully in your control. If done correctly it can improve how search engines see your website, weigh your relevant content (keywords), and place your website within search results for a given term.
Many Internet marketers debate the importance of on-page optimization when it comes to Google. I believe that the effects of on-page optimization are paramount given the latest changes to the Google algorithm, which are looking for natural language and targeted content. I believe that any Google optimization effort cannot be effective unless on-page optimization is thoroughly addressed at the start of any search engine optimization initiatives.
What I’m referring to when I speak about specific on-page optimization factors is the proper use of meta tags, website URLs, formatting, internal linking and friendly URLs, keyword development, and on-page placement.
The second part of any search engine optimization effort is called off-page optimization. In its simplest form, off-page optimization can be referred to as increasing a website’s authority. This authority is defined by the number and types of websites that link to a given website or URL. I also like to think of off-page optimization as what you do on the Internet, not directly on your website, to improve search engine result placements.
The best part of off-page optimization is that there are a handful of proven techniques you can start using today to improve your SERPs on the world’s largest search engine. The fastest and most effective way to achieve this goal is by developing quality links to your website. When I refer to “quality,” I’m referring to links from sites that: Have an equivalent or higher Google authority than your site, include similar content to your web page, and have a large number of quality sites linking to them.
The power of optimization. If you’re doing business online, understanding the fundamentals of search engine optimization are essential. Unless your products are simply an impulse buy, people are going online to learn more about your business and what you offer by searching Google. What they see can make or break your business.
Don’t leave your online search results to chance — make sure prospective customers can find you and more importantly that you’re in control of the information they see when searching for you online. All you need is to apply the basics of search engine optimization to improve your results, build your brand, and grow your business.