How many times have you meandered past a juniper bush and not paid it any consideration? When have you walked by a meticulously maintained bonsai tree and failed to stop, even for just a moment, and reflect on its purpose and engage in the simplistic beauty? Exactly . . .

SEO is the art and science of tweaking a natural website to become more attractive to an expanded, collective and engaged audience. To entice this audience you need to first identify the primary source of information aggregation used over the past 20 years. Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, then you know the answer is the Internet, and that the true answer is Google. So how do you trick Google into providing preferential ranking to your website?

The trick? There is none. A website needs to start with a goal and a style catered to the intended audience and their desired experience; to turn something common into something engaging, just like a bonsai tree. The process of turning a simple juniper plant into a bonsai provides an interesting correlation to the general process of optimizing a website. To provide the right signals to search engines while staying honest and friendly to the human user.

Start With a Healthy Plant

SEO is formidable when applied to a healthy website brimming with content and potential for growth. Having thin or weak subject matter would be similar to starting a bonsai tree with a stringy and leafless stock plant. Can you be successful in developing an anemic website/plant into a healthy specimen? Sure, but the expenditure of unnecessary time (and effort) will increase the time frame required to deliver quality information, weakening your opportunity to make an impact on planned business goals.

When generating a website’s base content it is critical to keep the intended audience in mind. The style and message needs to be compelling while supplying the solutions to the problems that a visiting patron might have. Ultimately the offered solutions should fall in line with preferred business goals.

Pot, Fertilize and Water (and then water some more)

The initial SEO tasks are aimed at letting the roots of the website develop:

  • Installing the proper Google Analytics tracking code
  • Setting up tools designed for analysis (i.e. Google Webmaster Tools)
  • Generating and submitting the files used by search engines to index pages

Once the website is properly potted, then comes the time to focus on encouraging growth with fertilization and constant, torrential watering. The focus is improving the intrinsic health of a website by first reviewing potential keywords that can successfully foster strong initial traffic. Fertilizing a website with proper keyword density is a science of trial and error similar to mixing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to create the ideal ratio needed to nourish a plant. There are a plethora of experts that claim to know the exact ratio, but only first-hand experience can yield the proper mixture. Other elements of a website need to be in place at this stage: proper URL directory structure, meta tags, canonical tags, etc.

These elements work in tandem to signal to Google that this is a healthy and well-maintained site that merits attention, an ideal specimen worth sharing with information seekers. Finally, there comes the never-ending cycle of refreshing the website with the continual waters of SEO tweaking and the refinement of user experience.

Constant Trimming and Removing Fluff

Once a healthy bonsai tree has developed, it’s time to start removing any overgrowth. For a website this means evaluating what content is vital in generating traffic and what content is acting as fluff or filler. Anything that isn’t providing the website visitor new and desirable information can start to be reworked or removed. During extensive trimming an experienced SEO might notice fundamental weakness in content structure that will require firmer guidance.

Wiring to Change Direction

Business focus can change. Audience needs can change. In fact, the only constant of SEO is change. So when content structure needs a change, the pillars of the website may need a slight shift. When a Bonsai tree has a branch moving in an undesirable direction, the gentle application of wire is needed to slowly work the branch into the correct direction. This allows the foliage to reach the rays of the sun; in the case of a website, this structural shift is needed to reach the desired visibility of the planned audience. To avoid similar mistakes moving forward, this process needs to be handled gently and with a steady vision of how the future business landscape will look.

Grafting in New Content

Larger websites are a marvelous indicator of topic authority in the eyes of Google, while adding fresh content indicates that the website is maintaining relevancy. One way to continually add new content is through the integration of a blog. A blog provides an ideal test bed for new business ideas and keyword permutation testing or existing keyword reinforcement. It also provides another way for businesses and potential customers to interact through the exchange of comments, questions and answers.

When a bonsai tree is augmented with newly grafted branches it shows that the artist/grower has superior skill and a breadth of specialized knowledge. When blogging is utilized correctly it allows a website to demonstrate its command within the market.

Sharing and Showing Your Hard Work

It’s natural to start the sharing process with close friends and locals to develop the buzz needed to reach experts in the art of bonsai. Once the experts sit up and take notice, a website becomes far more relevant to a far larger group. Link building is the art of sharing what a website has to offer with the rest of the online population. It can start slowly with directory listings and letting the local community know of its existence, but the real goal is reaching the industry connectors, mavens and persuaders. Once these market leaders start to take notice and share all the hard work and quality content put into a website, you can bet that the intended audience will start to view you in a new light, as a true specialist. Google will also take notice and help place your website at the top of the search results where the true specialists reside – where the gurus of SEO live.

Finally, Constant Maintenance

Bonsai is a prolonged process that can last hundreds of years. Aiming for success at such a lofty goal is not to be taken lightly, requiring constant vigilance and stewardship to reach. Working on it from time to time will never produce suitable results. There are no shortcuts, there is no trick. A properly optimized website is the same.

To learn more about bonsai visit Wikipedia. To learn more about SEO, contact CNP. We are the gurus dedicated to making your bonsai stand out against the common juniper. We specialize in getting people to stop and take that moment to get engaged.