The days when web copy, especially SEO copy, could focus merely on getting higher rankings from search engines are over. The game has shifted from high page ranking to actually getting found. For example, recent research indicates that people are searching increasingly for longer phrases, not just simple keywords. In SEO jargon, the keyword tails are getting longer. And this means [Read more…]
I know, I know, another blog about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Well it’s a hot topic with our clients and often an area of confusion. SEO is simply optimizing a site to ensure that it is found when doing a search on Google, Yahoo or other search engines. Now the term ensure may be too strong because although SEO is important, there’s no magic to guarantee placement. A site that ranks third on the first page on Google one day may be at the bottom of page two the next day due to changes in the way in which the search engine looks at the site. And it may also vary form person to person–but that’s another story.
Although this can be a bit frustrating we do know that there are a few things we can do to make sure a site improves its ranking. First and most important is content–making sure that the keywords used in a search are in the content of a website is essential. The more comprehensive the content of the site, the more likely it will rank well on search engines.
The second way to improve search engine rank is to make sure that the keywords used in a search and in the content are included the meta and title tags . The most important terms should be included in these 2 tags. This is also important because the title and meta description may be what the search results will show and you’ll want to make sure that it correctly conveys your message.
Also important to SEO are incoming links. The more links you have from other sites to yours, the higher you may rank. The key here, however, is QUALITY links. You’ll often see ads to get you 15,000 links. Most of these won’t be applicable to your site and can even hurt your ranking. Quality links would be regional, industry directories, etc.
The bottom line is…SEO is a continuous process. Since search engines constantly update their way of looking at sites, SEO is not a one time fix and although there are no guarantees, it’s not something you can ignore.
How is SEO like a college degree? With a degree you’re not guaranteed to get the good job, but without it, you’re not likely to get it. Similarly, SEO doesn’t guarantee a first place search engine rank, but without it, you’re not likely to be found.
Design the code right – the real trick to SEO.
Smart and accurate. Fun way to end a Monday afternoon. Enjoy.
It is important to optimize your site for search engines. That means it should employ the three tried and true search engine optimization (SEO) techniques: good titles, meta tags and most importantly well-written content.
Three Tried & True SEO Techniques
Title tags are within the head section of the html code and it is what appears in the blue bar at the very top of the browser screen. Titles tags should succinctly describe (using 6 -12 words or about 60 characters) the content on that page and they should be unique for each page.
Meta description tags are also included withing the head tags of the html code. The meta description is often used as the text that the search engine displays below your link. So it is important that this text is keyword rich and accurately describes its page. Meta descriptions should also be unique for each page on your website and should be written in a way that would make a potential customer want to visit your website.
Use the meta keyword tag to focus on what’s important on the page. Again, make it unique to each page and don’t stuff it with every imaginable combination of keywords. Pick a few keywords that focus on the content of that particular page and list them. Search engines may or may not use the tag to list your site, but they won’t penalize you as long as you don’t stuff it with excessive versions of keywords.
The Heading tag and Content
The H1 tag is an html tag that identifies an important heading. There are actually 6 levels of heading tags within html with h1 having the most importance. Your content (that means the content that people read on the page) should use appropriate keywords and should be well-written and structured for easy reading. Use the H1 tag for important keyword rich headings and write content that clearly and quickly identifies the focus of the content and supports the heading. Use video and graphics to support your concepts too and remember to use descriptive alt tags for images.
What if SEO doesn’t work as well as you expected?
These search engine optimization (SEO) techniques have been around for at least a decade or more and while I highly recommend optimizing your website for search engines, you should be aware that SEO in itself will not make your website successful and may not provide your site with the desired search engine rank.
If you’re confident that your site has been optimized well but you’re not happy with your current search engine rank, it may be time to analyze the competition. Which websites consistently rank higher than your site in the search engine results? What differentiates the top-ranking sites from your site?
Typically, I find 2 or 3 obvious factors that seem to contribute to the higher search engine rank.
1.Their site has better content – it’s more in-depth, it’s better written, it appears to be the better resource.
2.The site has been established longer and has been managed consistently and kept up to date.
3.It has current information and uses current techniques for presenting information.
There are of course many other factors that can come into play. But given that your site is free of technical errors and is coded to be crawled easily by search engine bots, probably the most important thing a website owner can do to optimize their website for search engines is to optimize their site for their customers.
The search engines’ goal is to list the best resources – it should be your goal too.
1.Continue to add depth to your content. You might add a blog or a user forum that will encourage customer participation while building the depth of content on your website.
2.Reach out to your audience – participate in social networks and give freely in the areas of your expertise.
3.Ensure that your site makes your customers feel secure with appropriate security measures and easy to find contact information.
4.Set a schedule to review your site regularly and edit dated information with updated content.
Your website may not be an overnight success, but with continued diligence in managing your website it will continue to improve as a source of referrals for your business and will become more and more valuable over time.
Can your potential customers find you when they do an Internet search? In other words, is your web site optimized for search engine indexing? Use this checklist to evaluate your web site for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Have you developed a key word list that contains words and phrases that describe your product or service?
- Does each page on your web site have a keyword-rich page title that accurately describes the content on that page?
- Does each page on your web site have a meta description tag that clearly describes the content on that page in one or two sentences?
- Do you use keywords within the content on your pages?
- Do you use keyword-rich alt tags for each image on every page?
- Do you use keywords in text links on your site?
- Do you update your site on a regular basis?
- Do you take advantage of industry- or regional-specific on-line directories to list your business, with a link to your web site?
- Do you use on-line PR services to submit articles related to your business that link to your web site?
- Do you have a blog, or participate in forums, blogs or on-line business networking services like Linked In, Facebook or Plaxo?
With the goal of making search engine results more relevant to users, Google continues to work on new methods to provide personalized results. Users will have the opportunity to rank their own results and add comments when logged into their Google account.
What does this mean for SEO? Strategies should focus less on attaining top rank but should focus on enticing the consumer to the site. Once there, the website should clearly present the material the user will need to take the action the site owner desires. Focus needs to be on:
- Writing good page titles, accurate yet enticing
- Write a good meta description
- Clear, action oriented content that clearly presents your message and invites users to take action.
One easy way to use keywords in your website is to use them in your links. Too often I see content concluded with “click here for more information”. That’s just a wasted opportunity where a keyword phrase should be used.
So, if you find yourself writing “click here” … STOP! Use a keyword instead.
Search engine optimization is an art and a science and there are many things you can do in addition to what was done during the site build to continue to improve your search engine ranking. But keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and it can take time to get ranked and stay on the first page of a Search Engine.
Since search engines are trying to provide the most relevant search results to their clients, the best thing you can to do to improve your chance of ranking well is to build a content-rich, well organized website that is kept current with updated information.
Recommendations for keeping content fresh:
- Use a blog or user forum to make it easy to post new information and to encourage user participation
- Remove pages with outdated content, or pages without content.
- Use video – (customers and search engines like it)
Often you’ll notice that the sites that are coming up at the top of the SE list are directory sites. They have a distinct advantage over an individual or small business site because in addition to having fresh content that is updated regularly, they provide multiple resources for someone searching – thus the SE’s consider them the most relevant result to the search.
Things you should do:
- Research your keyword phrases to determine the best terms to use and regularly add keyword rich content to the website.
- Ensure that keywords are used in page titles, meta tags, content and content headings.
- Get listed on appropriate online directories (professional directories, yellow pages, chambers of commerce, etc.)
- Submit press releases to online PR services
- Set-up a Google Adwords or other PPC program
- Review your site statistics or a program like Google Analytics to analyze what is working – what pages people are landing on and where they go once they get there. Make adjustments based on analysis
- Maximize your virtual network with professional networking sites like Linked In or Plaxo
- Participate on professional forums and offer your expertise
Things to avoid:
- Pop-up windows
- Dead links
- Identical content posted in duplicate locations
- Overuse of Flash
Keywords are the building blocks to a well-built website. They should determine the navigation structure to the website, the content of the site and if used wisely will have a positive impact in how well your website is ranked by search engines and more importantly will lead qualified prospects to your websites.
There are a number of tools online to help you determine seed keywords based on your products or services, but the first step you should take when developing your initial list is to brainstorm. Make a list of terms that you think your clients, customers or prospects might use to find a company that offers your product or solution.
It’s possible, in fact likely, that you may be too close to your topic. It’s wise to seek the advice of someone not familiar with your product to find out what terms they would use to find the solution you are providing. There is a website called seedkeywords.com that can help facilitate that process.
It’s also a good idea to step away from the computer and go to the library. Find your topic in the library and see the different phrases that are used to reference your topic. Better yet, ask a reference librarian what terms real people use to ask about a topic.
Once you have an initial list of keywords, you’ll want to develop a secondary and tertiary set of keywords. For example, as I revamp my own website, the table below might be similar to this partial list of my keywords.
|web development||web design||custom web designs, small business websites, html / CSS coding, ?custom web design solutions, website packages,?build your own website, web design tools, web designer, web developer, html editor, domain registration, web hosting|
|E-commerce websites||Shopping carts, online store, online shopping cart, merchant accounts, e-commerce security, SSL, build your own shopping cart|
|website applications?||blogs, wordpress, bulletin board, forum, knowledgebase, membership directory, custom applications, content management systems|
|Internet services||POP mail accounts, webmail, email defense, spam filters, e-mail marketing|
|internet marketing||Search Engine Optimization, SEO, email marketing, RSS feeds, PPC, SERP, pay per click programs, google adwords programs,|
As you can see by laying out the keywords in primary, secondary and tertiary columns it can help you determine the architecture or navigational structure of the website. Additionally it will help you to focus on the terms you need to include in your content to make it easy for people visiting your site and for search engine bots to determine the services or products that you are offering on your website. The easier you make it for people and bots to know what you’re talking about, the easier it will be to get targeted customers to your website and to improve your bottom line.