SEO sometimes reveals problems with your business

The Google search algorithm is ceaselessly, maddeningly logical. It has one, simple goal: provide searchers with what they’re looking for. It has bots that crawl the web, looking for sites that are relevant to a searcher’s query and authoritative on the query’s subject.

It measures relevancy by looking at what’s on the page. It measures authority by analyzing who links to the page.

Optimizing your site for search shouldn’t be complicated. First, figure out what you’re about. Then figure out what someone who’s looking for what you’re selling would use to search for it. Last, let Google know your page is the most relevant, authoritative page for the query.

When trying to optimize clients’ sites, the trouble comes at the weirdest places. Sometimes, a strange thing happens. Sometimes doing SEO reveals problems with a business.

Sometimes, clients can’t get past step one, because they still don’t really know what they’re about.

If you can’t throw out any ideas for non-branded search terms to target (you know, not the names of the individual branded products, but the type of things that you sell) and you hate everything I suggest, that’s a sign that you’re not ready for prime time.

If your business requires hiding information from searchers, but you need Google to see that same information so you can get ranked, you need to reevaluate your business requirements.

SEO can be a barometer. The truth is, except in rare cases, if an e-commerce site isn’t ready for SEO, it’s not ready. Figuring out what you’re about and then figuring out what someone who’s looking for what you’re selling would use to search for it isn’t hard if your business is well thought out. Competitive research and traffic estimations require specific expertise. But any business owner should be able to throw out some qualified, non-branded search terms for their products and services.

SEO isn’t voodoo. Figure out what you’re about. Show Google what your page is about and that it and can be trusted. You’ve got to do the first part before I can do the rest.

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