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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 18 seconds

The New SEO Landscape

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a practice where companies spend (lots of) money or time tweaking their web based content in hopes that it is ranked highly by search engines such as Google and Bing and therefore found within the first few pages of search results.


Ranking highly in search is a great way to drive prospects to your company because appearing within results is free, most searches won't click through more than one page of results - and a high search ranking can produce many inquiries from potential customers..

Search rankings are still extremely valuable except the rules of the game are constantly changing. Old SEO tricks that companies used --- creating shared links between sites, stuffing lots of keywords into their website pages and using keyword rich articles which rank highly but don't make sense are starting to fade as search engines learn to ignore old SEO tricks.

Google, for example, now has a search algorithm called Search Plus Your World which places more importance on your social network and what they find interesting in determining the search results you'll see when logged into Google. As a result search results are now highly variable and often two people doing the same search will get different results.

If traditional SEO is not working like it used to - what's the next most effective way to generate traffic to your website without spending a lot more money tweaking web pages and chasing ever-changing search engine rules?

One way to rank higher in search which has never gone out of fashion is to continuously create valuable content that's relevant to what prospects are searching the web for.

All Roads Lead To Your Web Site

No matter where you are sharing information - whether it's on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook or Linkedin or Google+ - as many links as possible should lead back to:

1. Content you have created (Remember: Helpful, relevant)
2. With a strong title (Ex. QuickBooks Training Guides Updated For Latest Version)
3. On a web site (domain) you control
4. Which is frequently updated (Stale content is not ranked as highly in my experience)
5. And where there is a sign-up page for visitors to subscribe to an email newsletter

Your website should have a section for a blog (Wordpress is my favorite) which allows you to update content easily and with a minimum of editing.

Your blog should be updated three to five times a week with relevant content that your target customer might be searching for.

I've gotten a lot of mileage attracting existing users who may be looking for a new partner by writing blog posts about common error conditions and how to resolve them.

Example:

Sage 100 ERP - Open Purchase Order Report "Data Is Not Selected For Printing"

Titles are important.

When considering a title key in on what your customer will be typing into the search box. If you specialize in a product - use the product name where possible. Most people search on exact error messages (or relatively close).

In the example above if I'd titled the post "Solution to Open PO Report Not Printing" I would likely see far fewer search hits because there are fewer people searching such a vague description.

The final tip that you'll want to implement is a sign up form so people visiting your website can enroll in your email newsletter.

Email newsletter services (I use Mailchimp - http://www.mailchimp.com ) have gotten very sophisticated and allow you to design a newsletter that runs itself.

My weekly newsletter pulls from an RSS feed ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS ) of recent stories (since the last newsletter) to send a summary automatically to my subscribers. I do not need to update any of the text or create any new articles since all content is pulled from my web site.

I've found that subscribers on an email newsletter list 3-6 months are 100x more likely to become PAYING customers versus raw web leads who email you saying "I found you in a web search and am wondering if you can answer a (free) quick question".

SEO is still important. However it's equally important that you continually modify your approach and adapt to the changing ways that search engines work and report search results. Doing so will save you thousands of dollars in advertising costs - while also driving quality leads to your web site where you can convert them to valuable new customers.

Wayne Schulz is the founder of Schulz Consulting. He began his career working for two professional service organizations and managing their consulting divisions. He has been active not only with the implementation of Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200 accounting software but often is engaged to help clients design or evaluate their current accounting procedures.

The philosophy of Schulz Consulting has been built around one of being a consulting firm first and a sales company last. This is evidenced by Wayne’s unwavering claim that he is the world’s worst salesman but perhaps one of the top at providing client service to his loyal base of clients (many of who have been with him since 1986).
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