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We've seen so many transformations in the world of SEO over the last few years that those three letters seem like an unsatisfactory way to describe what really goes on in thoughtful, effective optimization work. (This feeling has naturally led to some well-intentioned but not quite practical alternative acronym suggestions.)

What we talk about when we talk about SEO is really a diverse range of website best-practices for raising visibility and discoverability.

So how can we talk about those best-practices differently, particularly when we're explaining them to colleagues and clients? Let's unpack three of the most important ideas and techniques behind the acronym.

Three Website Best-Practices

First off, why is SEO important? Sometimes, it's easy to get so mired in the details that we forget about the big picture. Our most recent studies at the Hinge Research Institute find that 81% of prospects check out a professional services firm's website to research a potential service provider.

Making that initial connection smoothly and successfully can mean the difference between new inbound leads and, well, crickets. So it's important that your site be...

1. User-Friendly and Error-Free

At least as much as possible. Google and other search engines crawl your site on a regular basis, so the fewer soft 404 and "not found" errors, the better. But you're not building your pages for the sake of Google's crawlers; you want them to be functional and easy to navigate for users, without the frustration of bugs or missing content.

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image of Lee W. Frederiksen

Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services to help firms grow faster and maximize value.

LinkedIn: Lee Frederiksen