The Seven Secret Skills Of SEO Work

There is​ a​ lot of​ talk on​ the​ web regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how,​ if​ you​ just do this one thing,​ you​ will be at​ the​ top of​ Google. if​ only it​ were that easy! in​ fact,​ I believe there are seven distinct skills that a​ search engine optimiser needs to​ possess. Most people possess one or​ maybe two of​ these skills,​ very rarely do people posses all seven. in​ truth,​ to​ get to​ all seven,​ people who are good at​ two of​ these need to​ actively develop the​ other skills. This takes time and effort and,​ if​ you​ are running your own business,​ do you​ really have the​ time to​ do this?

The seven skills that I believe are necessary for SEO work are:

Web Design – producing a​ visually attractive page

HTML coding - developing Search Engine friendly coding that sits behind the​ web design

Copy writing – producing the​ actual readable text on​ the​ page

Marketing – what are the​ actual searches that are being used,​ what key words actually get more business for your company?

An eye for detail - even the​ smallest errors can stop spiderbots visiting your site.

Patience - there is​ a​ time lag on​ any change you​ make,​ waiting is​ a​ virtue.

IT skills - an​ appreciation of​ how search engine programs and the​ algorithms they use actually work

Many website designers produce more and more eye-catching designs with animations and clever features hoping to​ entice the​ people onto their sites. This is​ the​ first big mistake; using designs like these may actually decrease your chances of​ a​ high Google rating. Yes,​ that’s right; all that money you​ have paid for the​ website design could be wasted because no-one will ever find your site.

The reason for this is​ that before you​ get people to​ your site you​ need to​ get the​ spiderbots to​ like your site. Spiderbots are pieces of​ software used by the​ search engine companies to​ crawl the​ Internet looking at​ all the​ websites,​ and then having reviewed the​ sites,​ they use complex algorithms to​ rank the​ sites. Some of​ the​ complex techniques used by web designers cannot be trawled by spiderbots. They come to​ your site,​ look at​ the​ HTML code and exit stage right,​ without even bothering to​ rank your site. So,​ you​ will not be found on​ any meaningful search.

I am amazed how many times I look at​ websites and I immediately know they are a​ waste of​ money. the​ trouble is​ that both the​ web designers and the​ company that paid the​ money really do not want to​ know this. in​ fact,​ I have stopped playing the​ messenger of​ bad news (too many shootings!); I now work round the​ problem.

So,​ optimising a​ website to​ be Google friendly is​ often a​ compromise between a​ visually attractive site and an​ easy to​ find site. the​ second skill is​ that of​ optimising the​ actual HTML code to​ be spiderbot friendly. I put this as​ different to​ the​ web design because you​ really do need to​ be “down and dirty” in​ the​ code rather than using an​ editor like FrontPage,​ which is​ OK for website design. This skill takes lots of​ time and experience to​ develop,​ and just when you​ think you​ have cracked it,​ the​ search engine companies change the​ algorithms used to​ calculate how high your site will appear in​ the​ search results.

This is​ no place for even the​ most enthusiastic amateur. Results need to​ be constantly monitored,​ pieces of​ code added or​ removed,​ and a​ check kept on​ what the​ competition are doing. Many people who design their own website feel they will get searched because it​ looks good,​ and totally miss out this step. Without a​ strong technical understanding of​ how spiderbots work,​ you​ will always struggle to​ get your company on​ the​ first results page in​ Google. We actually run seven test domains which are testing different theories with different search engines. Remember that different search engines use different criteria and algorithms to​ rank your site - one size does not fit all.

Thirdly,​ I suggested that copy writing is​ a​ skill in​ its own right. This is​ the​ writing of​ the​ actual text that people coming to​ your site will read. the​ Googlebot and other spiderbots like Inktomi,​ love text – but only when written well in​ properly constructed English. Some people try to​ stuff their site with keywords,​ while others put white writing on​ white space (so spiderbots can see it​ but humans cannot).

Spiderbots are very sophisticated and not only will not fall for these tricks,​ they may actively penalise your site – in​ Google terms,​ this is​ sandboxing. Google takes new sites and “naughty” sites and effectively sin-bins them for 3-6 months,​ you​ can still be found but n t until results page 14 – really useful! as​ well as​ good English,​ the​ spiderbots are also reading the​ HTML code,​ so the​ copy writer also needs an​ appreciation of​ the​ interplay between the​ two. My recommendation for anyone copy writing their own site is​ to​ write normal,​ well-constructed English sentences that can be read by machine and human alike.

The fourth skill is​ marketing,​ after all this is​ what we are doing – marketing you​ site and hence company and products/services on​ the​ Web. the​ key here is​ to​ set the​ site up to​ be accessible to​ the​ searches that will provide most business to​ you. I have seen many sites that can be found as​ you​ key in​ the​ company name. Others that can be found by keying in​ “Accountant Manchester North-West England”,​ which is​ great,​ except no-one ever actually does that search. So the​ marketing
skill requires knowledge of​ a​ company’s business,​ what they are really trying to​ sell and an​ understanding of​ what actual searches may provide dividends.

The next skill is​ an​ eye for detail. Even a​ simple change to​ a​ web page can create an​ error that means the​ spiderbots will not crawl your site. Recently,​ I put a​ link to​ a​ page that didn't have www. at​ the​ front of​ the​ address. the​ link still worked but the​ spiders stopped crawling,​ and it​ took my partner to​ find the​ error. We have recently invested in​ a​ very sophisticated html validator that picks up errors that other validators just fail to​ see. These errors do not stop the​ pages displaying correctly to​ the​ human eye,​ but cause massive problems with spiderbots. Almost all the​ code that I look at​ on​ the​ web using this validator flags major errors,​ even from SEO companies.

The sixth skill is​ patience,​ or​ is​ it​ a​ virtue! Some people seem to​ want to​ make daily changes and then think they can track the​ web page ranking results the​ next day. Unfortunately,​ it​ can take a​ week for absolutely correct changes to​ take effect,​ in​ which time you​ have made six other changes. Add to​ this Google's
reticence to​ allow new sites straight on​ to​ its listings by adding a​ waiting factor of,​ maybe,​ three months for new sites,​ and you​ have a​ totally uncontrollable situation. We say to​ all our clients that a​ piece of​ SEO work should be looked at​ like a​ marketing campaign that runs for six months,​ since it​ is​ only after that time that a​ true judgement of​ the​ effectiveness of​ the​ work can be made.

The final and seventh skill is​ an​ appreciation of​ how search engines and algorithms work,​ for this where both it​ and maths experience is​ useful. People who have programmed at​ a​ detailed systems level have a​ natural feeling for how spiderbots will read a​ page,​ what they will search for,​ what tables they will set up,​ what weightings they may give to​ different elements. All of​ this builds a​ picture of​ the​ database that will be created and how it​ will be accessed when a​ search is​ undertaken. Unfortunately,​ this skill is​ the​ most difficult one to​ learn as​ it​ relies on​ many years experience of​ systems programming.

So,​ in​ summary,​ I would say "If it​ was easy everyone would be doing it!". I hope you​ will see that professional Search Engine Optimisation companies need more than a​ bit of​ web design to​ improve your business. Make sure anyone you​ choose for SEO work can cover all the​ bases.

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