Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my family had an annual ritual: Watching the Miss America beauty pageant for the new round of contestants and winner of the crown. Naturally, we studied their bodies, hair-dos, and faces, while the judges peppered them with questions to get a sense of their personality and intelligence. In theory, the winner was chosen for her all-around Miss America qualities.
Getting our website to the top of online search results is simply another kind of contest, in which we are all participants and not just observers. Actively competing against thousands or millions of similar pages for the top spot impacts the success of our business. The task of search engine optimization (SEO) is to make the website competitive, so it has a chance of ranking where people will see it.
Imagine that each page of your website is on stage to compete against all others for the top spot. The judges, i.e. the engineers, will ask questions, and your answers become the criteria for scoring, promoting, and demoting.
In the spirit of the contest, I’ve provided practice questions so you can prepare for that moment. But remember this fact: The judges cannot see the web page – they only see the data about that page.
SEO Spotlight Questions
Choose the top three pages of your website – not the Home page, but the pages that should connect with the people you do business with. Run them through their paces with the following questions (after each question, in parentheses, is a related SEO concept):
- What are you about? (Have you used carefully researched keywords?)
- How focused are you on the topic? (Is the content well written and useful?)
- What problems do you help people solve? (Is the content relevant?)
- How popular are you? (Are there social media mentions and citations across the Web?)
- Are you unique? (Duplicate content is frowned upon.)
- How many influential people support what you have to say? (How many authoritative inbound links are there?)
- Do people pay you any attention? (Do people engage, e.g. read the page, share it, link to it?)
- How much do people value your message? (Do they convert, i.e. respond to your call to action?)
- Are you trying to cheat and game our system? (Are you violating Google’s webmaster guidelines?)
How did you do? Did you have enough data to give the judges a straight answer?
As silly as this analogy appears, there’s a kernel of truth to it. As a consultant, these are the questions I ask when evaluating a website, and in devising an SEO strategy; they aren’t easy to answer, but I promise you they are worthwhile.
We all want to win the crown, but it takes preparation. A dazzling, beautiful website can get your customer’s attention; but what counts is the quality of the relationship between the website and the people using it. To search engineers, beauty is only skin deep unless it is supported by data.
About Janet Chiu – LinkedIn: Janet works in partnership with web developers and other professionals to help websites connect business owners with their best customers. As the SEO on the team, she ensures that SEO is baked into each website. She and her husband live in Rockville, Maryland, with a car that has over 200,000 miles on it from the many weekend trips they take.
Get in touch with Janet Chiu through her website, CyberTurf Strategic Media.