Every webmaster and online business owner understands the benefits of search engine optimization. One of the most effective and least expensive marketing tactics that can deliver a high volume of targeted traffic is to get your website ranked in the top 3 slots on search engines like Google and Bing.
Few, however, realize that there are also dangers and risks hidden in SEO. Most are trivial or short-lived. Others can be more serious. And very few have the potential to cripple your entire search strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and craft of making your website more likely and suitable for ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) through a combination of on-page and off-page factors. It is logical, therefore, that good SEO doesn’t happen by magic or through accident. It involves an investment of time and/or money into getting things right.
And in that statement lies the seed of the biggest danger in SEO.
Your website ranks on search engines for specific terms or phrases called keywords. For instance, if your website is about dog training, then it will probably rank on search results for terms like “dog training”, “dog obedience”, “potty training puppies” and so on. The phrases for which your site ranks will depend upon how frequently and in what context they are found on your web page (on-page SEO) as well as their presence in the anchor text of incoming links to your page, and the relevance or authority of the page hosting those links (off-page SEO).
So what could be dangerous about that? After all, isn’t SEO all about optimizing these things so that your site ranks high?
Yes, it is. But that’s not all that good SEO is about. The very best SEO strategists work hard to ensure that your website ranks high for the CORRECT search terms or keywords – so that the traffic you receive from organic search results is relevant and of the right kind.
Let’s pause to think about that for a moment. Say you’re building an online store to sell Nike trainer shoes. You may decide that athletes, fitness enthusiasts and joggers are your ideal market, and optimize your SEO and ranking efforts to secure the top slot on search engines for these terms.
Your smarter competitor, on the other hand, realizes that those using search terms like “trainer shoes” or “fitness” or “jogging footwear” are only in the researching phase of their purchase – and decides to target prospects further along the ‘buying cycle’. He will then optimize his web pages for terms like “Nike Men Downshifter 4 MSL” or “Air Jordan 2011 A Flight” or “Nike Lebron 9 iD”.
What’s the difference?
While your website may well receive a flood of visitors, and even provide them with useful information about which Nike sneakers are best for them, your competitor will be simply place purchasing options in front of prospects who are already convinced they need a specific model of shoes – and are ready and eager to buy it right now!
By picking the wrong terms to optimize your website or blog or online store, you may be leaving thousands of dollars on the table. That’s scary.
And it gets scarier still when you understand that going after mere search phrases based on product models or brand names is far less effective than digging deeper to understand the mind of your prospective buyer.
When you know how your prospect feels, thinks and dreams, and can identify the emotions, passions and desires that fire audiences in your market, you will have made a significant paradigm shift in your SEO efforts. You will then be able to intelligently target a different set of keywords (often without much competition), rank high for those terms, and then engage your visitors who arrive through those searches in a more meaningful fashion that converts them easily into buyers.
The biggest danger in SEO is missing out on this powerful approach. The best optimized web page will fail if it is targeting the wrong search phrases and therefore attracting the wrong kind of visitor to your site.
About the Author:
Dr.Mani, author of “Think, Write & Retire” is a heart surgeon, Internet infopreneur and social entrepreneur. Pick up his free ‘Infopreneur HOTSHEET’ and learn more about information marketing at Information Marketing.ikoni