I love the Internet.  I’ve loved it for twenty years or so.  Twenty years... that's a long time, eh?  How long have you been on the digital highway?

In that time, I'm sure you've made connections with fabulous people in places you have only dreamed of going.  Had instant access to every bit of information ever known to man. For a curious mind, what’s not to love?  The Internet is like a city center on steroids.

The truth is that when we go online, unless we already know the domain or URL we're going to, we're really only going to see what the search engine giants put in front of us.  If I'm in search of a nail salon in my city, Google will show me what it considers to be the “best of the best” in my area.  Right?

Sort of, but not exactly.

Google will show me related businesses with sites that have been appropriately optimized for search results in their industry (in this case, nail salons), in my local area (suburban Chicago).

What does that mean?  The best nail salon might very well be a twenty year old business around the corner from me.  But if that store’s owner hasn’t focused on search optimization issues for her web site, and isn’t on page one (or maybe two) of Google, I’ll never find her.  I’m in a new city and local word of mouth won’t come into play for me for some time.

Following my drift here?

Search still matters.  A great deal.  And how your brand or business shows up in search results really matters.  It’s not enough to say to yourself “We show up just fine for our business name, result number one, on page one, on every search engine.”  Sounds good in theory, but for me to find you I would have to be googling your exact business name in the first place.  If I don’t know who you are, or what your brand name is, how likely am I to google your business name?

But before you can tackle the issue of where your business lands in search results, you need to focus on doing the right things for your brand’s web site.

What are those “right” things?  Glad you asked.

Search engine optimization is a huge industry and search engines are constantly changing the rules of the game.  This rapidly moving target is elusive and frustrating to track.  So instead of recommending that my clients go full on with SEO, as it were, I always recommend that they adopt a strategy of focusing on general search optimization.  A bigger picture viewpoint.  The need to have a quality site will never change.  The need to have informative content on that site will never change.  The need to keep your links fresh and active will (most likely) never change.  To that end, I’ve compiled a checklist of the top things you should consider when planning to optimize your site aka The Simple Site Optimization Plan. 

Also, before you dive in, a quick warning, search optimization is not a quick fix.  Unlike other places online, there is no instant gratification in the world of search.  Big results take planning and time to come to fruition.  Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a reason to put search optimization off until another day.  For obvious reasons, the best time to start is right now!

Ready for the list?  Go ahead and get started today (you’ll be glad you did).