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SEO: The Black Art?

Businesspeople see search engine optimization (SEO) as a black art. They believe that this mysterious process of using meta tags, linkbacks, doorway pages, keywords, and the like as strictly the domain of the IT staff. But this could be a big mistake for both groups. They're correct about the process—but not the content.

When the business side of your organization cedes SEO to the IT department, your web site is optimized not for humans but for search engines. The business side probably knows that a well-optimized web site can bring "free" traffic to your site if the site resides in the top of the search engine results.

They just don't know how to get that result—so they relinquish the duty to your IT staff.

But your business staff has a responsibility in this process, too. They can't hide behind the belief that SEO is some form of programmable witchcraft practiced by IT people. Your IT staff needs some very important information from the business side before you begin optimizing your web site for search engines.

Parts 1 and 2 of this series addressed the importance of closely defining the message of your organization, breaking down that message to its basic elements, and positioning those elements on your site. Without this "content" narrowly defined, the SEO efforts of your staff will be less than effective. Your organization must start with good content—keywords, page copy, a useful site map—and then tweak it to the degree of optimization that search engines look for. These tweaks include writing good title tags, keyword phrases, and content pages—and making pages easily found via site maps.

Your IT personnel are probably not marketing specialists or copywriters; therefore, the business side of your organization must do its job before your IT staff can adequately prepare your web site for SEO.

Here's what to expect from your businesspeople. Make sure that you get it before you attempt to program your site for SEO.

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