I have been working in SEO, for many years my team and I have been learning, testing, tweaking and doing all we can to improve the exposure of the websites our clients so generously submit to our care and protection. I’ve also been fortunate enough to talk at many conferences and write for papers and websites about all things Optimization. This week I decided to look at optimization from a different perspective. How are YOU optimized, or how is your COMPANY optimized? Search Engine Optimization experts want to look at fundamentals, content and links. All of these things are important to the Search Engines based on the results they want to return to the users.

The smartest engineers in the world work every day to improve the systems that can identify websites with the best fundamentals, content and links. When the system finds them, it rewards them with great web page authority or PageRank (PR), and high SearchRankings. The result for the website is increased exposure to everyone looking for information, products and services on the topics within the website.

What if we spent the same amount of time “Optimizing Us”, as we do our websites? Would the result be increased authority, and exposure? Let’s do a simple comparison and see what we could focus on.

Website Fundamentals = Personal Character
Fundamentals are the structure and foundation your website is built on, and strong fundamentals always include website history and domain age. This means, you can’t fake time, age and experience, this is something you develop over the long run. If you did a quick check of the last year of your life, the last 5 years, 10 years of your life, your professional career, how much authority would you have? Could you walk away from what you have built and if you did how long before it would fall apart? If this last statement made you think “I can’t leave for a second”, your fundamentals are in trouble. I recently had back surgery, and I was out of commission for 2 weeks. I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years and in that time I’ve never even taken a vacation for that long, so the thought of being out of the picture, made me a little nervous. I humbly admit to not being missed, and nothing could have made me feel better. You can bet I’ve got a 2 week vacation coming up in my future!

If you have been in business or your career for 10 years or more, you know what the fundamentals are, if you haven’t been in your career for 10 years, ask someone who has. Do a quick check of your personal fundamentals and see if there aren’t a couple of areas you can improve on this year. Read a book about business or optimization, begin to investigate new technology, attend a good seminar, find some way to “wake up” just a little bit and improve your personal fundamentals. Now is the time.

Website Content = Personal Value
When the Search Engines look at a website, they try to determine value by how often the content on the website is updated, how relevant the website is, and how often other websites link to it. The more frequent you update content with relevant information the more often other websites will link to it, because it has high value to the user. How much value do you have? How much value do you give? I am learning new ways of providing and giving away value every day. Every classic business book I have ever read from Napoleon Hill to Jeffry Gitomer has said the same thing about providing value, the message has not changed. The distribution model has dramatically changed, so now you can give away your value to a larger audience. The older you are, the more experience you have, and worked so hard to gain, the harder the new media world will be for you to understand. I’ve struggled with this myself. I challenge myself everyday to find new ways to give away the value I’ve learned, experienced and in some way shaped into more value over time. I have a spread sheet I keep on my desk with each of my clients names on it, and every month my goal is write something of value I was able to provide to each of my clients. If I can continue to provide value to my clients each month, especially if it’s value above and beyond what they expect, my list of happy clients will continue to grow, and could foster into raving fans full of referrals.

What are you doing everyday to add value to your business, family and/or world? You can go in two directions with your value. One you can keep it to yourself and only provide it to the few who may pay you for it. Second you can give as much of it as you can create to the largest number of people you can find, and you will gain a never ending pipeline of people lined up to pay big money, just for a small piece of your time and expertise.

Website Links = Personal Relationships
For many years a websites value was only determined by the number of inbound links that were coming to it. The early days of Search Engine Optimization were all about increasing your popularity with the World Wide Web in order to get links. Today it’s not just about links, it’s about the quality of the links you have. Volume is still important in the Search Engine World, but quality becomes more important with every algorithm change. Our personal relationships are the same way, it’s nice to have 500+ connections on LinkedIn, what are you doing with them? If you are able to produce a great blog, and provide consistent value to a group that large then you are doing well. However in reality, I bet most of us would struggle to come up with 100 names of people we know on a first name basis, personal and professional. When was the last time you worked on your personal links? A lot of this is going to depend on your age and your stage in life, I’m in my 40’s and I have young kids, my personal life revolves around school and sporting events, and the majority of my personal links are through my kids.

I made a conscious decision at the beginning of this year to increase my personal links, but I refuse to blast out a LinkedIn announcement to everyone in my Contacts List. I want to increase my personal links, the same way I want my website to do it. I want to be able to provide value to each link I make. Whether that’s an opportunity to give advice, listen to a friend, make an introduction, it doesn’t really matter, I just want to increase my personal links by adding value to each relationship. I know it sounds easier than it is, we are all overbooked, we eat dinner at either 4:30 before the soccer, baseball, lacrosse, dance event, or 8:30 PM when it’s over. It’s sometimes hard to engage with neighbors, friends and acquaintances, if you have already been “on” all day at your job. Think about this; how much do you think my life will improve if I increase my personal links by adding more value to each relationship? How much do you think my business will increase if I’m working on providing more value to each link? Is there any down side to trying to increase my personal links?

Interesting concepts, in the end optimizing your website will be a lot easier; however optimizing your life will be far more fulfilling, best of luck!