Search Engine Optimization—those three words, often abbreviated to three letters SEO, can strike fear into the hearts of web designers everywhere. So much relies on having amazing SEO—without significant keywords and other SEO-related things, no one can find your website. But use the wrong ones in the wrong way, and you’ll run afoul of Google’s algorithms. So what can you do? You can start by learning these five real-life lessons about search engine optimization. They may help you avoid the insanity that often comes with trying to get your site optimized.
Search Engine Optimization Life Lessons
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Novice designers set up their keywords and other SEO tags and meta descriptions, then walk away never to look at it again. But SEO doesn’t work like that. Instead, you’ve got to track each keyword, evaluate how well it’s working, and decide if it needs replacing. You may also have to do a significant SEO rework after a new Google algorithm comes out. You have to keep at it because no one’s SEO is ever absolutely perfect.
2. There’s Always Something New to Learn
SEO—in fact, almost everything connected with online marketing—is still evolving and growing. Even though it seems like everyone is now online, the truth is that most people have had internet access for less than 20 years. The world of SEO has changed a lot in those two decades, and it may change a lot more before it finally settles into a set of best practices. For you this means you have to research continually and learn about new techniques.
3. What was Once Good is now Bad
Along those same lines, you’ll find some SEO techniques that were once considered the most useful are now not only recognized as a waste of time, they are now sometimes also penalized. Keywords, for example, now need to be used very strategically instead of occurring in every other sentence. Links built into your website can’t come from just anywhere; they need to come from related, high-quality sites. Google and other search engines will penalize any site that continues to use practices that have been declared underhanded or sneaky, so you have to keep on top of these changes.
4. Everything can be Optimized
Don’t think you can stop at keywords in your content and a few meta tags in your webpage description. Everything these days can be used in your optimization. Have images? Be sure your alt tags include keywords! Need to add a video? Give it a caption with a keyword or two. Remember that search engines can’t “see” anything that’s not coding or text, so you’ve got to be sure to label videos, images, widgets, Flash content, and anything else.
5. Is Your Site Useful to Humans?
Finally, here’s the biggest and most important life lesson of all. Make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in SEO that you forget to make your website useful to the human visitors you’re trying to attract! Don’t go overboard with keywords or content that’s just there to add a few more tags. Don’t spend hours on the SEO but only a few minutes on the actual content, which is what’s going to bring people to the site.