The Most Important Factor in Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a sexy term these days.  It has worked its way into the standard business language over the past couple of years, and is today’s version of the advertisement in Yellow Pages – something that every business feels it needs, or they might be left behind by their more aggressive competitors.

But even given its sudden prevalence in business circles, search engine optimization is still little understood, particularly by small and medium sized businesses and organizations that do not have the time and resources to dedicate to the topic.  After all, it is a pretty technical field that requires specialist knowledge, tools, and skills.

Or does it?

If I sit down with a small business owner to discuss their website, I can talk on for hours about canonicalization, site hierarchy, URL structure, user agents, and a number of other technical issues.  But is that really the most important thing about search engine optimization?  Is it a topic that is so specific that you need advanced degrees to understand?

No, it isn’t.

So, what is the one piece of advice I would pass on to the small business owner?  Take a look at your website from the perspective of your customer or potential customer.  Look at your content.

Consider your website from a fresh perspective.  Look at every page individually.  Who is this page speaking to?  Is it targeting your existing customer?  Is it targeting a first-time visitor?  Is it targeting the guy around the corner who just wants to know what time you are open?

The most important part of search engine optimization is your content.  What does your website say, and who is it speaking to?  Is it a match for your potential customer, and for what they are asking from the search engines?

For almost any website, the one improvement that can be made is to improve content.  Make sure that you are speaking to your target audience clearly and without jargon.  That is the most important factor in search engine optimization.