If one could bring all the details of SEO down into two simple concepts it would be the concepts of acquisition and distribution. Acquisition and distribution networks have been used in the offline business world long before the internet was around. These two concepts are inclusive of most of the metrics that are important to a website ranking well, gaining traffic, selling more products, or marketing a service. When one of these breaks down it becomes difficult for a site to reach its traffic, ranking, and sales potential.
This encompasses the technical and usability aspects of SEO and forms the foundation for optimized metrics flow. This is one of the primary reasons SEO needs to be included during not only the planning stages of a site design, but also through each of the steps of the website design process.
Real World Analogy: Lets take a basic example of a house being built and compare it with a website being designed, coded, and launched. Contractors and architects know that the plumbing and electrical systems need to be planned from the beginning stages and installed before the walls go up and sheet rock is added. If a house was built with no electrical or plumbing throughout and then at the end of the build the contractor said, “the new home owners want electricity and plumbing”, it would be a nightmare to try and install all the pipes and wires after the walls had been painted.
The same is true when designing a website and implementing an effective metrics distribution system. If a site is designed and coded with SEO as an afterthought, it will be a nightmare to gut the site (in most cases) and architect it for proper metrics distribution. Unfortunately this is how most websites are built; with SEO as an afterthought. I have been doing this long enough to know that even if a client says does not want SEO, at some point they will ask you “why is my site not ranking for keyword x”, it’s inevitable, trust me. So it’s our duty as SEO and holistic marketing experts to at least educate the client and help them build a the distribution system, even if they don’t ask for it.
Distribution answers questions such as:
- Can a site be crawled by a search engine spider?
- How does a website flow its metrics through its internal link structure?
- What pages or site sections do metrics need to be focused on?
- Are the metrics focused on the correct pages and not wasted on low performing or low quality pages?
- Is the user flow effective for conversion and does it meet user expectation?
- Has there been enough acquisition of metrics to support the distribution to important pages?
Acquisition is about gaining metrics for internal distribution through the network you, as an SEO, have structured for the businesses website. Once a site has been built with a quality site architecture based on page to page relevance and user click paths, then acquisition of external metrics can take place.
Metrics a site needs to gain:
- High Quality Links: Containing a mix of focused and general anchor text, along with a healthy mix of followed and nofollows links
- Facebook Metrics: such as likes and shares
- Twitter Metrics: such as tweets and re-tweets
- Social Website Metrics: bookmarking and sharing on other social websites
- User Metrics: including click through metrics from referring websites and the search engines
What if my site is already built, what should I do?
This is a problem that websites, and businesses as a whole, face on a consistent basis, most of the time by no fault of their own. Their website has usually been built by traditional advertising agencies, agencies that don’t understand SEO as a holistic venture, or didn’t educate the client about the risks of not creating a distribution avenue for metrics. This lack of vision comes back to hurt the small business when they want to rank for a set of keywords or expand into a new keyword universe because their site lacks either the quality content or distribution network to do so. The good part of this is the website usually has the acquisition done, but are not getting the most out of it due to the distribution network of their site.
If a site wants to expand its footprint for valuable, relevant, and highly converting keyword sets then a full content and technical analysis should be done to determine gaps in content sets and metric flow. Once the initial analysis is completed and the benefits, risks, and recommendations are outlined for the website the business owner needs to determine which path they want to take to generate more traffic and increase sales.
- Creating more content built on a new distribution network to support the other poorly constructed network
- Or reworking their current distribution network to benefit from the metrics they have already acquired
Simply put, a website acquires metrics from other sources outside itself and distributes those metrics internally through its internal link structure and site architecture. The search engines are getting better each day at determining the “real” value of the metrics; so trying to game the system is more work then it’s worth.
Rule: Build a site that has a great content and an effective internal distribution system for that content, and then market that site and content for metrics.