SEO | Focus on the Basics

When Google started personalizing the search experience in 2009, tremors ran through the tech community and a series of articles moaned SEO was dead or irrelevant.

Why? Because with personalized search there is no fixed SERP ranking methodology. This prompts the question does SERP rank really matter?

The only reason small to medium businesses are concerned with SEO is the desire to be found online. For some this is about ego, for others it’s about results.

Personalized search means even standard keyword searches produce different results for every searcher, based on past search history, geographic location, general demographics, Twitter and Facebook activity, and similar variables.

A client and I experienced this personalized search phenomenon when, separated by nearly 900 miles, we tested SERP results for specific B2B keywords and phrases related to his business. We’d Google the same term and get similar but different link lists.

Overall, those differences were minor. The client’s top SERP item would appear second on my list or vice versa, and geo-specific links reflected similar businesses from our respective communities. Even with these exceptions, in every instance, our top 10 first page results were parallel.

In the face of uncontrollable variables, devote your time and attention to what you can manage and influence. This means focusing on basics, such as:
  • Using targeted keywords your customers and prospects employ
  • Building quality content that customers and prospects find valuable and useful
  • Linking to related quality sites, partner companies and information resources
  • Garnering reciprocal links from quality sites and partner companies
  • Developing a business blog if you don’t have one to increase exposure and attract traffic
  • Publishing fresh content at least once a month

The most important step you can take is to figure out who your customers and prospects are, how they think and the terms they use when they’re looking for your products and services.

Then, since research estimates 50-70% of users click first-page results, work to reliably gain first-page rank. Unless you purchase a guaranteed ranking, whether you appear first or fourth on that page is out of your control.


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