We've all heard that familiar expression, "Good things come to those who wait". Whether you're waiting for your Heinz ketchup to pour out onto your burger (remember those commercials?), waiting for Christmas day to open your gifts, waiting for summer vacation to be let out of school, or waiting in line at the DMV... well, maybe not the DMV. Good things will come if you simply allow them to come in their own time.

Under normal circumstances that expression is simply not true. You'll still get your ketchup if you shove the butter knife into the bottle, dragging it out onto your plate; open all your gifts on Christmas Eve; skip that last few pointless days of the school year; or get into the express line at the DMV. The real lesson behind the clich' is that patience is a virtue.

One instance where it's is true, that good things come to those that wait, is when you are performing search engine optimization. Unlike placing sponsored ads via Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing where results are almost instantaneous, the long-term return on investment for SEO is considerably better than most other forms of on or off-line advertising. Unfortunately, SEO does not produce instantaneous results. Yes, patience is still a virtue.

Optimizing your site for your targeted key phrases won't get you to #1 over night. You won't find all your keywords rankings in the top 10 on Google in just a few days, nor will you get significant traffic improvement at the snap of the fingers. To use a simple analogy, SEO is like boiling water: you don't get a hard boil the moment you turn on the burner, you have to wait for it.

The process of optimizing a site or just specific pages in a site can take weeks, and that's just the initial optimization phase. In a previous article I wrote about the making of a perfect SEO firm, highlighting all the different jobs that an SEO firm must perform for the optimization process. That article outlined only the overall human resources needed but didn't go into the specific job functions that are required in the SEO process, when performed correctly. Here is where I let that particular cat out of the bag.

Can't Find Your Way Out of a Paper Bag

On the front end of the optimization process hours and hours of research must be performed for each account. Everything from keyword research, industry research, competition research, marketing research, and more, all need to be completed before any optimization can begin. We often get asked if research time can be shortened if we have performed optimization work for another site in the same industry recently. The short answer to that is "no."

Every site is constructed different, designed different, laid out different, has a unique history and targets the audience differently. These are all factors that are considered in the multiple levels of research performed. No two sites are the same; therefore no research is the same.

Nothing to Write Home About

A good SEO will actually write or rewrite your page content to properly (and effectively) work in your targeted keyword phrases. A professional writer should be able to take the SEO recommendations for keyword usage and incorporate that into existing content in a way that reads naturally (i.e. does not look as if you just tried to insert keywords here and there for search engine relevance) and maintains the ability to convert your visitors to paying customers. This is no small task and should be done with the utmost time and care.

Take It or Leave It

Code bloat removal is probably the most overlooked part of the SEO process. Sure, everybody knows about titles, meta tags, alt tags, etc. and making them all search engine friendly. That's not necessarily a small task either. Many times, eliminating page code bloat is an incredibly daunting task. Moving styles and javascripts is only part of the puzzle. Many times a page has to be almost completely rebuilt due to the excess amount of junk code that was put in place by whatever design programs were used.

Even a Broken Watch is Correct Twice a Day

On top of the code bloat removal process you also want to get your pages to validate to professional HTML standards set by the W3C. Validation is simply ensuring the correct coding elements are used and used correctly. While most validation issues are relatively small, they tend to come in multitudes thorough the site. Larger validation issues can often take time and substantial finessing of the code in order to correct.

All Things Being Equal

Site maps, custom 404-redirects and robots.txt files are all important to the overall construction of your site, even if they don't necessarily have a direct effect on the actual on-page optimization of your site. Site maps help both search engines and visitors quickly and easily get to the information that is important. A custom 404 redirect eliminates that annoying "page not found" error and lets you keep visitors on your site if they somehow access a page via a bad link. The robots.txt file is useful to communicate with the search engine spiders about content they should or should not index. This allows the search engines to focus its time on the good stuff and not the irrelevant portions of your site.

In the next part of this series, Ill look beyond the details of getting your site ready to optimize and will dive in to the actual work that takes place before your site goes live.

August 2, 2005

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Part 1