To Optimize Or Not To Optimize
By Dan J. Fry
Excessive optimization could be considered a sickness depending on context. Look up compulsive disorders in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and over-optimization fits the description fairly well. So, should most online home business owners be seen by a psychotherapist? Well, I won't answer that as of now since it doesn't bode well for my immediate physical health. But one thing is for sure: web site optimization is tricky business.
The search engines are in an all out war to be the best. Since content is king, they are all striving to develop the all around best algorithm to deliver the most relevant search results. They are thus in a constant state of flux, which in turn wreaks havoc on our nerves as online home business owners.
You see, search engines are one of the best forms of free traffic. And we all know that to run a successful online business, traffic is a must. Most home based web businesses start out on very restrictive budgets. I know mine did, and still is. So, when the toss up is time or money, I, like many others probably do, chose to work with time.
In walks optimization. You must be on your toes to stay ahead of the every changing SEs. You must periodically evaluate your site's content to ensure that you aren't bumped to low indexes. But this can easily get carried away into what I like to call over-optimization, and then you probably should consult the DSM-V.
Traffic is important. There is no doubt about it. But there must be a balance. So the ultimate question is not whether you should or shouldn't optimize, but how much time you should spend on it in terms of other site promotion methodologies.
Try to divide your time. In the beginning I focused heavily on search engine optimization. Slowly, after several months of realizing that the process never ends,(I too consulted the DSM-V and had Freud give me a swift kick in the tushy.) my focus began to shift to a host of promotion techniques. Here is a short list of some of the primary traffic generators I work with.
(1) Writing articles, such as this one, to share my experiences with others and of course provide a link to my site at the end. Guess what? If someone picks it up and decides to publish any of my articles on their site, I get bonus points from the search engines. Why? Reciprocal linking of course. The link shows that someone else values my site, and as a result my ranking increases.
(2) E-Zine advertising, whether it be free classified ads which a host of publishers will offer their subscribers, or full blown paid solo ads, is a great traffic generator. You know that the people who visit your site through an ad were looking for something that you offer. Now that's targeted traffic!
(3) Traffic exchanges can also bring in targeted traffic. Many of these have the option of free or paid memberships. As of now I have focused on the free aspect (Remember, I love low, or no cost advertising). All that is required is for you to do a bit of surfing to have your short ad show up on other sites across the internet. TrafficSwarm and ClickMatrix are two of the best I have come across. They allow you to target your ad to ensure that the people who click are serious about checking out your site. You can sign up for free accounts to both of these at http://www.trafficswarm.com/go.cgi?224700, and http://www.clicksmatrix.com/index.php?ref=ekinetic.
(4) Pay-per-click can also drive targeted traffic. The thing I don't care for is that the cost can easily get out of hand, if you don't continuously evaluate your click through rates on a daily basis. Soon your back to focusing on pay-per-click and re-consulting with the DSM-V :).
Ultimately, you want to incorporate a handful of techniques that you find work for your particular home based web business. I nor anyone else can guarantee what works. It takes testing on your behalf. But, and this is important, the testing phase is educational and forces you to stay focused on methods that work. So try the inexpensive traffic builders first. Find out what works for you. Then expand your arsenal. Most of all, be patient and success will come!