OK, so you have a website. Perhaps its a simple, small site that you might have even designed yourself or a high-end corporate website that was created by a professional design firm. Either scenario, creating a website is often a major investment in time and or money. So now that you have the site completed, online and you have submitted it to the major search engines but your not getting traffic, sales leads and brand awareness that you had hoped for.
This is where SEO comes in. SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of structuring a web page so that it is found, read, and indexed by search engines in the most effective manner possible. Many people underestimate the importance Search Engine Optimization. I often hear “My website address is included in all of our advertising. Why wouldn’t people be able to find it?” or “We have a corporate site and we dont sell products or services online so its not important that people find us outside of our businesses region” The problem is, how can you be sure that every potential customer has been reached by your advertising? And if you have a corporate / non e-commerce site its still important to rank well in the search engines to increase your businesses brand awareness and increase sales leads, which will lead to increased ROI from your corporate website.
SEO is a real art, and there are many SEO companies that make a living offering this service and charge big money for it and that sucks. Most of these people do little more than what I am about to outline here for free. The rules and process to obtain high rankings in search engines are continually changing and this article is not the end all and be all of optimizing your pages. However, I have decided to create a list of the top five most important and over looked factors in improving your search engine rankings in major engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. By following these 5 steps you will be able to allow your site to earn its keep so to speak, and it might even become a part of your full-time sales staff.
1. Forget keywords, keyphrases is where its at!
Even if you have no experience in SEO I am sure that you are familiar with the term Keywords. When I begin optimizing sites for search engines back in 1996, the thing to do back then was to create a list of relevant keywords and put them in your sites keyword Meta tags and in the page content and you would get some decent rankings. Now, things have changed and it is difficult if not impossible to get high rankings based on keywords. Instead, you need to think about keyphrases. Determine your Key Phrases; the easiest way to do this is to ask yourself “what would I search for to find a product or service like mine?” Use the Overture keyword tool together with the number of results on Google to find out what keywords are searched for and how many other websites are targeting them.If your business is geographically restricted, then your keyphrases should reflect this. For example, if you are a real-estate broker in Springfield, Massachusetts, then the key phrase “buying real estate” is a waste of time; instead, the more specific phrase “buying real estate in Springfield, Massachusetts” is what you want to be thinking about.
2. The Title Tag
Without question the title tag of your page is the single most important factor to consider when optimizing your web page for the search engines. Its also the number one overlooked item that I often see when I am dealing with a site re-design and when browsing the web. Most engines & directories place a high level of importance on keywords that are found in your title tag. The title tag is also what the search engines usually use for the title of your listing in the search results. The title tag is what you see displayed at the top of the browser when you are on a web page. For instance if you are on our home page at www.delpadre.com you will see that the title reads “Interactive new media, web site design, Flash design, CD-ROM, video and 3D Animation”
The two biggest mistakes I see is that clients often only put the name of the site or business in the title or even worst some inexperienced designers leaving a default name in the title tag from the design software they are using like “Untitled Page” or “New Page 1″. This will do you absolutely no good unless of course the name of the product or service you are selling is named “Untitled Page” or “New Page 1”!
3. The Description and Keyword Meta Tags
The Meta tags are also very important to getting good rankings, and on many search engines, the Meta Description tag is what gets displayed directly under the sites title tag. Meta tags were originally created to help search engines find out important information about your page that they might have had difficulty determining otherwise. For example, related keywords or a description of the page itself.
Google will often display the Description Meta tag’s contents instead of displaying a fragment of the page. For instance if you take a look at this search for “High impact media production”
our site is number 1 of 71 million results
in Google because of the Title Tags keyphrases matching the Description Meta Tag. You will also notice that the words that Google used to determine the searched relevancy are highlighted like “Media”
and “High Impact”
. I recommend that your Description Meta tag not exceed 250 characters including spaces.
The other Meta tag is the Meta Keywords tag. What you do is take your keyphrases, and enter them in the order you think is most appropriate, separated by commas. Don’t repeat a keyphrase, and don’t repeat any individual word more than 5 times or so. Some engines like Google don’t use the Keyword Meta Tag when crawling your site but many others do. You should only use the keyword phrases that you also used in the copy of your page, title tag, meta description, and other tags. I recommend that your Keywords Meta not exceed 1024 characters including spaces.
4. Page Content
The first paragraph of your page should recapitulate and expand upon everything in your title and meta tags. You need to have all those keyphrases in it. However, since this is going to be read by people, it needs to be written with them in mind. Text is what the search engines love to look at the most. The more relevant text you can write on each page the better it is for the search engines and the better it is for your end users.For best results I recommend that each page you submit has at least 150 words of copy on it. It might be too much copy for some pages but the search engines really like it so you should do your best to increase the amount of copy where you can. This text should include your most important keyword phrases, but should remain logical & readable. Be sure to use those phrases that you have used in your other tags in steps 2 and 3. Optimizing your page copy is one of the most important things you could possibly do to improve your listings in the search engines.
5. Links, Links, Links
Many search engines use some sort of linking weight in their algorithm. Meaning, the more people that have links to your website the higher your results will appear in searches. So after you build this great website, let the world know about it. Contribute in blogs, forums, and message boards relating to your services or products. Write articles. Become an authority on what your website deals in and before you know it you will be getting those one-way links without even asking for them. Our site www.delpadre.com has been online since 1995 so we have built up a fair amount of incoming links from the web design community, inspirational sites and even personal websites and blogs from people that enjoy our work.
So thats it, these are my top 5. This does not even scratch the surface of what goes into a comprehensive internet marketing plan but its a good place to start. There are many other methods including optimizing and adding keyphrases in your “alt” images attribute, putting keywords in the actual name of the files and directories on your site and the actual domain name to name a few. As always, you are welcome to contact us directly and put our knowledge of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization to work for you.
Nino Del Padre