Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed a lot in the years that I have been tweaking websites and their content to meet search engine standards. The expectations set by Penguin 1.0 and those continued expectations hinted at for Penguin 2.0 have truly evolved the standards set by Google. Honestly, the changes are for the best, but they reminded me of what business and e-commerce websites really are: virtual versions of brick-and-mortar businesses. The new ranking expectations are causing websites to get back to basics with SEO and treat their site with a true extension of real-world business strategies.
SEO Today: How A Website is Like a Restaurant
I feel sometimes as if I am Gordon Ramsey on Kitchen Nightmares, a show in which the master chef takes struggling restaurants and guides them to success. At Elite SEM, we provide our clients with thorough audits of their web presence, much as Chef Ramsey does to restaurants on his show. The parallels do not stop there because Google is rapidly taking websites back to business basics.
Location is everything for restaurants as they seek to capture both foot and automobile traffic, and positioning your site in the right location to capture organic search traffic is as important for websites. Restaurants need good food that brings people in to eat; SEO today attempts to create content that brings traffic to the website. Word-of-mouth advertising is a restaurant’s best form of marketing, any establishment wanting every customer to tell friends about the food and those friends to come in and eat. Social media today is a website’s word-of-mouth medium, every site wanting to provide content worthy of syndication on Facebook and pins on Pinterest or +1s and Likes.
Chef Ramsey doesn’t just audit the restaurants. He redesigns the interior, develops a new menu, and ensures that the staff is trained to prepare it. At Elite SEM, our SEO team assists our clients in site redesign, cleaning up messes and optimizing appearance to ensure consumer trust and a pleasant user experience. We develop a plan to continue growing the site, a menu if you will, of ways to improve the site’s ability to provide valuable content to its primary audience of consumers. Finally, we gladly train our clients in best practices and how to keep it going even when they are on their own.
The parallels are clear. Business is business, and the models of success are very much the same online as off. So while much of our work is oriented toward search engines, much is geared toward consumers. The goals are the same whether you are soliciting a conversion or a satisfied stomach. All indications from Google suggest this is the future of the Web.
SEO Means Niche Marketing Post-Penguin
The most common move made by Gordon Ramsey on Kitchen Nightmares is paring down hideously broad menus down to a simple niche in which the restaurant can succeed. This is also what webmasters will need to do as part of a well-managed SEO strategy Post-Penguin. Our efforts are not just about numbers and tons of traffic; they’re about the right traffic, drawing in the consumer fit for the website’s niche. Good traffic converts. It has always been our objective, but Penguin has ensured that the way we seek that traffic isn’t through gimmicks of the sort that turn Chef Ramsey’s face bright red in restaurants. Now, it’s a menu of quality offerings targeting a specific consumer audience. This means knowing your niche and providing for those consumers that already exist in it.
Niche marketing involves knowing your consumer base. It’s a population that already has interest in your products and services. A good niche marketing strategy identifies the needs, wants, and demands of this population. Each client we work with already has its niche. So much of our work today is discovering the language of that population so that we can speak to them in the terms that they query. We must then provide them with content that they trust, approve of, and want to share with their friends. This is the key to niche marketing. It is also the key to SEO today in the Post-Penguin world.
Fortunately for our clients, we take a much more gentle approach than the infamous Chef Ramsey.