I get asked how to be #1 in Google (and Bing, Yahoo). Here’s the super-short executive summary:

2 things: Make Great Tomato Soup, and Get the World To Agree.

There. Simple, eh?

Step 1: Have some truly useful product or service online. If you flood your blog with worthless auto-generated spammy articles, it won’t take long for the human traffic to figure this out, Google to catch up, and then tell the world you have “bad tomato soup”. If you truly have great tomato soup, lots of humans will want to come back, and other people will link to you. Step one of having great tomato soup is your recipe, which refers to your on-site blend of content. This is pretty technical, but google “on-site SEO” if you need to know this. It refers to ensuring things like image alt-tags reflect the content, the internal system of linking to content to be sure it’s all “seen” by google when it “indexes” the site (i.e. takes a snapshot of your website, for inclusion into search results).

Step 2: Get backlinks, aka “votes of confidence” to your tomato soup. CNN.com voting for you counts a lot, grandma’s blog, not so much but it still helps a little.

Since I’m addressing executives, have you considered there are also some absolutely crucial other factors involved in making you more money? Some of those are:

  • CTA: Call-To-Action. What do you want people to do when they’re on your site? It must be exactly one thing, for maximum performance. Call you for a free consultation? Come by the store? Buy online? You need to be absolutely positively crystal clear about what your CTA is – and that should get reflected in the page design, on-page video, the content of the site, even the testimonials, if you have any.
  • Audience Alignment. Your backlink votes will count better if the Tomato Club, or the Grilled Cheese Club has voted for you, because these are patterns that reflect human behavior. A gambling site voting for your tomato soup is probably spam, though it definitely cannot hurt you, otherwise sharp SEO experts would de-SEO competitor’s sites (thought to be briefly possible, but no longer). Your conversion will be better too. What’s conversion?
  • Conversion: the % of people that take the action you want. This might involve a few levels of depth; i.e. you might get 32% of your visitors subscribing to your newsletter, and 3% actually get out their credit cards and buy…these are two difference conversion metrics.

Before you do any hard work or spending on SEO, we recommend spending money on PPC (Pay-Per-Click), just to find out which keywords are really converting. One secret many webmasters overlook is using “buying keywords” vs. the high traffic keywords. Someone shopping for “2010 ford models” might be looking for Ford Modeling Agency ladies in bikinis, or Ford automobiles, but whatever the case, they’re not ready to buy. Someone looking for “lowest price 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid San Diego” is ready to spend money. Sure, there’s lower traffic – but one keyword could make you thousands of dollars a month with easy SEO, while the first keyword will be tough to rank for, and probably not make you a dime – unless you’re ford motor company and in it for the long haul.

More information:

Wikipedia’s description of Search Engine Optimization