Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Search Engine Optimization is the dynamic and delicate art of streamlining and enriching your website to increase it’s search engine standings. Simply put, it is the act of courting and hopefully winning Google’s affections over and over again.

It is the goal of search engines to provide the user with unbiased, top-quality, relevant results to their keyword searches. Therefore, they keep their ranking formula top secret so no one has an unfair advantage. All of the algorithms and secrecy benefit the search engine user, as we are directed to pages that are deemed the most relevant, and the highest quality.

Our goal as Search Engine Optimizers is to think like a search engine user. If we have a clean, clear site with rich content, functioning text links, appropriate meta data and focused keyword use, we greatly increase the quality of our site, and strengthen our SEO potential

Search Engines, Robots and how it all works

  • Robots, also known as spiders or bots, crawl websites, indexing text for future reference.
  • Robots follow text – when indexing content and following links.
  • They don’t see javascript or images (yet), so make your navigation usable for robots. If you must use javascript navigation, be sure to include html navigation on the page as well.
  • Each page is crawled, analyzed and indexed separately.
  • You can keep robots from indexing a page by inserting meta data: name:”robots” content: “no index”
  • Algorithms are used to rank the strength and relevancy of sites.
  • When a user searches for keywords, these indexed pages are retrieved and displayed on a results page with the strongest, most relevant sites at the top.

Before you begin site creation, plan your SEO strategy.

  • What is the goal of this site? To buy something? Join a mailing list? Contact us? These are called conversion goals. Getting clear on these is a great enhancement exercise for any site.
  • Decide upon the keywords you will be using to attract visitors via search engines. This is a crucial element, as spiders index text, and keyword competition can be high. More on this later.
  • What links will you be using, and what are the goals of the individual pages?

SEO Techniques

html Title

  • This is what search engine results display, so make it good.
  • Make sure your title contains your exact keywords. Make it lean, focused and compelling.
  • The html title carries more weight than any other html element and it displays in the browser window.
  • Spell out acronyms.
  • Don’t simply mirror your navigation. Provide more than “about” or “products”.

Meta Data – Description

  • Search engines may display this if there is no html text (Flash or graphic sites), so use it
  • Keep it informative and professional. Think of it as a 30 second elevator speech. This is a descriptive tool, not a “buy now” flag.
  • Make it keyword rich.
  • You can’t be certain when or how people will see this, but when it does display, it will be near the title, so don’t simply repeat your title. Let them support and strengthen each other.
  • Don’t stuff it with a long list of words. Make it clear, focused, concise and thorough. Yes, it can be all of these things at the same time.
  • Make the description unique on each page. This allows for different landing pages depending on the users search.
  • A great description makes a great tagline on a page or a blurb in a directory listing.

Meta Data – Keywords

  • Once the champion of SEO, keywords were used and abused and now have little influence. However, they do have some influence so it’s best to optimize.
  • Use your top priority keywords at the beginning of the list, as the order they are listed can be a factor in the weight they are given.
  • Use the name of the business or organization, the products or services offered and location if applicable.
  • Each page should have unique keywords.
  • Make your list thorough, without going overboard.
  • As with all things SEO, lean, focused, appropriate keywords are the name of the game.
  • The more keywords you use, the less weight each one carries.

Headings

  • h1 tags carry more weight than h2 and so on
  • Be as specific and keyword focused as possible with your headers. “Organic Baby Clothing” is a much stronger header than “Clothing”.

Providing links that can be indexed

  • Make sure that your links are created in a way that robots can follow them to the other pages in your site, as each page is indexed separately.
  • Provide a sitemap in your root directory called sitemap.html. This greatly increases that chances of all you pages getting indexed.
  • If you must use javascript, make sure to put their html counterpart somewhere on the page.

Incoming Links

  • A great source of traffic and SEO potential comes from quality inbound links.
  • The text of the link itself carries weight, so make sure the links are descriptive and clear: your name or a descriptive phrase such as a great search engine instead of “click here”.
  • Text is much better than images for links. If a logo or other image is being used, give it a good alt tag and ideally, have an html link somewhere on the page.
  • Request links from quality sites with a focused readership, web visibility, rich content and ideally a good search engine ranking. This will drive traffic and increase your ranking.
  • Low quality links (from junky sites, enormous link sites, sites with unfocused content) can lower your ranking so choose wisely.
  • Link to your site from forum posts, blog posts and comments as these can be a good source of traffic.

Keyword use in the body of your site

  • Keywords rule the game…quality keywords rule the game.
  • Before you write, decide on your keywords and use them as often as you can while still writing in a way that is focused and concise. Keyword stuffing is dead.
  • Think like a searcher. How do you search for things? What phrases do you use? See which keywords are displaying the results you are pursuing.
  • Rich text is a robot’s favorite food.
  • Exchange general words for keywords whenever possible.
  • Include keywords in links when possible.
  • Use keyword rich text for alt tags and image captions whenever possible.
  • Use a keyword rich tagline or header.
  • Content. Content. Content. Make it quality, lean and keyword rich.

Submitting your site

  • Submit pages to search engines (example: www.google.com/addurl)
  • Robots don’t come immediately. Be patient. SEO is a weekly or monthly affair – not a daily.
  • Directories can be helpful. They never took off as expected, but it is a marketing opportunity.
  • Niche directories are good but beware of “link to anyone” directories.

Monitoring your SEO activity

  • SEO is a no-rest affair. If you’re not ranking high, you’re working to improve and if you are ranking high, you’re working to stay there.
  • Search Engines change their algorithms constantly. You can never know exactly how Google works.
  • Google Analytics is extremely valuable. You put a line of meta-data on each page you want to track and it returns tons of useful and eye-opening data.
  • Use your competition to see what is working. Who is at the top. What are their meta-tags like? Content? Titles? Headers? We have a very useful resource in view>source code.
  • An internal search bar on your site can reveal what it is people are searching for.

The trouble with Flash (right now)

  • 1 page sites don’t rank well in search engines
  • There are no html clues as to content on a page.
  • There are no internal links or anchor tags for robots to follow.

How to improve SEO on a Flash site

  • Focus on getting inbound links to improve standing.
  • Create a duplicate html page with all the information that redirects users to your Flash site.
  • Improvements in robots ability to read Flash text may be coming (but what about outlined fonts? hmm)

What not to do

  • Duplicate Content
  • Abusing meta-tags
  • Invisible text (same color as background).
  • Styling headers to look like text.
  • Trying to trick Search Engines in any way. Getting banned from Google can be a site’s death.

Conclusion

SEO is a long-term maintenance program, and the name of the game is quality, rich, succinct content. It is a massive, ever-changing, dynamic field, with newcomers every day. There are resources available that will help you get to know your site in ways that you had never thought of. Use them.

Whether your SEO goal is to get the #1 Google ranking or simply to be found, optimization will improve your standings, your traffic and the quality of your site. The delicate art of SEO ensures that search engine results are as relevant and high-quality as possible, which benefits us all.

Happy SEO-ing!

Advertisements