How many times have you sat down and started talking to a potential client and the first words out of their mouth are: “How do I get my website on or to the top of the Search Engines?” How are we as search engine optimizers suppose to answer that question? Do we say, “We’ll do some stuff to your site and hope for the best?” I don’t think that would generate too many sales, but at the same time we don’t want to give up too many of our own personal secrets.

The key is to give them just enough to make them happy, or you could always go the route of spitting out so much information that they never want to ask that question to you again. I personally try and find a middle ground when I am asked that question whether it be from a client or someone I had just met that asked me what I did for a living.

So how much is too much? This is going to have to be up to you, me personally I give only basic statements so that the client understands but at the same time they do not gain so much information that they can go out and do this on their own try this on their own. As we all know, you can’t just learn this business in a book or in a two hour meeting. It can take months to even years to really get a good handle on the SEO business, and even then we constantly have to keep up-to-date on the latest trends so we don’t fall behind.

So what are the basic SEO tips I give to clients?

  • You have to have unique titles and meta tags –
    • For the most part everyone should know what the title tag is. If they don’t then it is rather easy to tell them that it is the words you see in the top bar of your browser or what you see in the search results. websitetitle Meta descriptions and Meta keywords are also terms that have been thrown around so much in the online world that if the person has never heard of them, then they just might have been living under a rock. While I have been of the frame of mind that meta keywords are completely worthless and a waste of time and energy, we still provided them because Yahoo! up until last week would still utilize them (this has since been proved wrong by Jill Whalen who states that Yahoo! still in fact utilizes them – We are conducting our own research on this subject and will provide the results in a later post). I like to give them the basic response; you need to have unique titles and meta tags on everyone of your web pages. These tags should also utilize the keywords that you wish that page to rank for.
  • Be sure you have good content –
    • Content is king, it has been for a long time and I don’t see that really changing in the future. This doesn’t mean that you should be writing thousands and thousands of words or stuffing keywords in there. I have always said that you need to write enough so you get your point across. If that means the page only has 200 words then so be it, if it is 1000 words then that’s ok too. It is important that if your content is helpful (which it should be) that you write with correct grammar and break up your content with pictures and/or bullets.
  • Make sure your site design is SEO friendly –
    • This could really throw them back a little when you start going after their design. Especially if they did the design themselves. Watch your words and just point out the flaws that you can see (without digging them out).  Point out things like the use of flash or the use of an iframe perhaps. When you bring up flaws with their site design talk about how it can hurt their Search Engine rankings. This will/should settle them down a little bit if they seemed a bit thrown off or think you have insulted their site.
  • You need to have high quality links pointing to you –
    • This is probably going to be the hardest thing you should have to talk to them about when they ask: how do I get my website on search engines? One of the examples I have always used is that links are like word of mouth marketing but with websites. If a website places your link on their site they are basically saying that they trust and like your site. The Search Engines see that and this helps boost your rankings in the search results. The more unique domains that are “recommending you” the higher your rankings will be.

Now I don’t always have to go into this much detail when I am asked as most people do lose interest in what I am saying and just leave with “ok, so a lot of different factors huh”. This is the typical response I get when I am talking to someone who has just asked me what I do for a living. When it comes to clients sometimes they want a little bit more and we do have to go into greater detail. This is why we run a Site Analysis or Site Audit when we first begin a SEO engagement as it will answer most if not all of the client’s questions.