Placement on the first page of search engine results is like having prime real estate and a huge sign! In a discussion with Dennis Zink, Scott Gonello, author of Common SEO Mistakes: Basic Edition, relates basic and advanced SEO concepts and talks about some of the most common mistakes businesses make when creating websites.
Published: Monday, February 9, 2015.
As host of the Small Business Success podcast series, Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink, I recently interviewed Scott Gonnello, who wrote a book titled “Common SEO Mistakes: Basic Edition.”
Scott is a consultant, author and speaker specializing in search engine optimization, better known as SEO.
Q: Scott, what is SEO?
A: Search engine optimization makes your website more efficient so it communicates better with the search engines. This helps your ranking and placement on search engine results, such as Google’s.
Q: Can you explain how Google ranks a website?
A: Google uses many algorithms, little pieces of code that help determine whether your Web page is usable. Some important variables are: Is the content well written and appropriate for its audience? Is there enough content? Are there links? Are there pictures, and, if yes, are they using the proper alt tags (alternative text descriptions of the pictures)? Are more people going to this site and staying, or are they bouncing off a page too fast? These algorithms help determine if your business will show up in a search.
Q: Why is SEO important to a business?
A: It’s important to show up on the first page of the search results if you want your business to succeed on the Internet. Everything is relative with search engines. Getting to the first page in Sarasota might be easier than in Manhattan for the same product. It is relevant to who your target market is, what you are selling, and what’s the competition and the baseline for that industry and that location.
Q: What is the most basic mistake you see companies making?
A: A lot of companies are missing the most basic tie-in to the search engines, which is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) site map. When you produce a new page, document, image or content, an XML site map notifies the search engines with updates, and the search engines index these pages. It’s a basic communication notifying them every time you do something new.
Q: Which search engines have the greatest market share?
A: Google owns more than 70 percent of the market. It’s the No. 1 search engine in the world. Yahoo, Bing, AOL, some of these smaller ones have 1 to 2 percent, at best. We optimize for Google. If you rank on Google, you will get on the other search engines’ results.
Q: How do you learn about SEO?
A: The problem is, with the 200 algorithms that Google uses, 10 percent are changing every week, so 20 of those algorithms are brand new each week. If you read something today that was written three months ago, it could be totally false now. Google algorithms keep off companies that don’t belong in a search. In effect, if you’re doing something wrong and you don’t realize it, you could be hurting your ranking without even knowing it.
Q: This sounds very complicated.
A: Yes, it’s meant to be that way, which is why Google is so successful.
Q: Why did you write a book about the mistakes?
A: I found that some mistakes never change. It’s easier for me to teach people what not to do, initially, to get going, than it is to try to tell them something that doesn’t work today.
Q: What are some types of SEO scams?
A: If somebody emails you out of the blue and says, “We can do your SEO and get you on page one” — stay away. If somebody is sending you unsolicited mail, stay away. Talk to other businesses that are doing SEO through other companies and find out about them. You should get multiple quotes. Today, you can literally set up a website, buy a domain, put the website up and be online within 24 hours or less, but it might not show up in a search.
Q: What should a business do to have its website rank high with Google?
A: Have a good foundation, with quality content, good images, good linking to other sites and other foundational items in your website, and your XML site map, and you should do pretty well.
Q: What can you learn from Google that can help?
A: Google helps you find what you are looking for so you don’t have to think that hard. You’ll notice when you start typing in a search, Google shows you several examples of what other people have searched for and what’s trending. You just click and go from there. Google is telling you what ranks high in that search list.
Q: Is SEO a one-time expense?
A: It’s an on-going process. Keep in mind the XML site map that calls Google back to your website when there is something new. If you’re not doing new things on a regular basis, the search engines are not coming back to see you. Out of sight, out of mind.
Google thinks, “If you don’t care about your website, why should we?”