From the Nov. 2009 Issue
If you are interested in acquiring new business, then you need to understand
what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it can deliver qualified prospects
to your doorstep. In other words, SEO is how your website is found on the Internet.
A website that has been effectively optimized for search engines can deliver
motivated prospects to your firm. On the other hand, a website that is not search
engine optimized is essentially lost in Internet space, which renders it worthless
from a marketing perspective.
WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION?
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic a website receives directly from search engines. Essentially, if you improve your website’s position within the major search engines, via descriptive search term phrases and keywords, you will receive more traffic to your website. You will also increase visibility and generate more leads than a website that is not search engine friendly.
While SEO may sound simple and easy to do, it takes considerable planning and knowledge, and may take several months to deliver results. As more businesses employ SEO into their Internet marketing strategy, the more competitive the landscape becomes for securing top search engine placement. And with the emergence of social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs, an entire new layer of techniques are being deployed to strengthen SEO for progressive accounting firms.
SEO is mostly technical in nature. It combines source code programming with business marketing, website architecture, visual presentation and persuasion copy writing woven into the fabric of a website. Virtually all website developers do not factor SEO into website construction because it’s hard for the client to see, drives up cost and incurs extra labor.
To effectively optimize a website and make it search engine friendly, a website
developer must understand how search engines work along with the factors that
are important within the search engine algorithms. In addition, a developer
must also research the terms that a firm’s prospects will type into search
engines when attempting to locate specific services. With this knowledge, a
developer can practically reverse engineer how the website is developed so that
it meets the needs of search engines and your prospects.
WHY BOTHER WITH SEARCH ENGINES?
Search engines are the most important source of “new” visitors to your website. Since millions of people use search engines to find websites, maximizing your visibility can be a powerful and cost-effective part of your marketing program. Search engines are reliable and cost-effective, and they enable web surfers to search thousands of websites in seconds for all kinds of information. Bottom line: Search engines represent an inexpensive opportunity to attract visitors to your website.
SEO has been around since the mid-1990s, and was the primary responsibility of a company’s webmaster. By the late 1990s, website owners started to realize the business potential and value of having their websites ranked highly within the search engines, so they started to deploy tactics to manipulate rankings and game the system. To offset these “black hat” SEO tactics and recapture control of which websites received top rankings, the major search engines changed their algorithms and became more complex and proprietary. Today, the major search engines actually ban websites that deploy overly aggressive SEO techniques from their results. Today, Google ranks websites using more than 200 criteria as part of their algorithm.