What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Nearly every internet user finds new web sites using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN. You go to their site, type in what you are looking for and usually find it in the top three or four results. What goes on behind the scenes of every internet search involves complex software intelligent enough to figure out which pages are the most relevant to your search.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” search results for targeted keywords. This process involves two parts, researching good keywords and effectively adding those keywords to your site in a manner that the search engines can catalog.
Why Should I Optimize My Company’s Website?
If your site cannot be found by search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you miss out on the incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search – people who want what you have visiting your site. Whether your site provides content, services, products, or information, search engines are a primary method of navigation for almost all Internet users.
Where Do I Start?
For the sake of being simple, start with 25 keywords. These are the words you think people are typing into Google when they’re looking for what you sell. Once you’ve got 25 keywords or keyword combinations, pick the 5 you think are the most valuable. Then pick the 1 keyword or keyword combo you think will bring you the most money. *
* Figuring out what keywords to target is a tricky process and there are a lot of tools and theories to do this effectively. If you need help, give us a call to do proper keyword analysis and determine exactly which phrases are the best to target.
Keywords … Then What?
The second part of the search engine optimization process is crafting and developing your site to be near the top of the search results for the keywords you chose. This can be very difficult and patient process, as the World Wide Web is full of competing web sites that would like to be higher on the list.
Five simple tricks to jumpstart SEO:
- Incorporate your keywords into the pages unique title tag
- Get rid of “intro pages” or “splash pages”
- Wordsmith your keywords into the content of the HTML
- Entice others to link to you
- Measure your results
Incorporate your keywords into the pages unique title tag
Title tags are critical because they’re given a lot of weight with every search engine. Whatever keyword phrases you’ve written your copy around should also be used in your title tag. Remember that the information you place in this tag is what will show up as the clickable link to your site at the search engines. Make sure that it accurately reflects the content of the page it’s on, while also using the keyword phrases people might be using at a search engine to find your stuff.
Get rid of “intro pages” or “splash pages”
Some sites have an intro page or splash page with a logo or animation that require you to either wait through or click on an “enter” link to get to the real homepage. It has been proven that these types of pages increase your “Bounce Rate” or the percentage of people that “Bounce” from your site without visiting any sub pages. These pages virtually ruin your search engine results and you should remove them.
Wordsmith your keywords into the content of the HTML
Traditional marketers and copywriters frequently criticize search engine optimization companies for focusing so intently upon the keyword research and placement within the text that they sacrifice the art of truly engaging content. Granted, it can be delicate balance at times, but the ultimate goal with every written page is to entertain, inform, and entice the reader.
All the top search engine rankings in the world cannot make up for a page so hideous that no one stops to read or continue visiting the site. Basic copywriting classes and workshops are excellent places to get tips on how to keep the reader as the center of your focus and your writing. If copywriting doesn’t come naturally to you and outsourcing isn’t an option, visit CopyBlogger on the Web for copywriting tips or enroll in a local copywriting class or workshop (check your local community colleges and writer’s guilds).
On a simpler note, many people think that an image looks better than text for headings and menus. Yes, an image can make your site look more distinctive but in terms of SEO images for headings and menus are a big mistake because heading tags and menu links are important SEO items. Remember, search engine spiders do not read graphics.
A good way to see what a spider sees is by visiting:
Entice others to link to you
It’s a well known fact that quality links to your Web site are one of the most influential factors in determining search engine rank. The search engine knows to rank any of your pages as extremely important if many authoritative pages externally (and within your site) link to it.
As mentioned above, quality content affects both the quality and amount of inbound links. With the rise of social media sites including Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and LinkedIn, your site content is more important than ever. Your readers have the power to submit excerpts of your copy to these sites with links back to your page for all to see.
This is especially powerful for companies with the foresight to regularly produce articles, blogs, and press releases. This fresh content not only contributes to the optimization of your site, it also provides opportunities for exposure to (potentially) millions of readers on various social media sites. Some companies plan entire campaigns around the bursts of traffic received from social media links.
Measure your results
In and of itself this won’t do a thing for your search engine rankings. But it will cause you to do things that will. It can become quite addicting, and you’ll find yourself having too much fun doing it once you get the basics.
Here is a brief list of tools we recommend to help you keep track of your SEO results:
- Multi site rank checker
- SEO site Analyzer
- Strongest Sub-pages Tool
- Google Analytics
- Google Web Master Tools
Supplemental information on Search Engine Optimization:
- Google Ranking Factors
- Godfather of SEO, Bruce Clay
- Free SEO tools
- SEOmoz article on ranking factors