Welcome to my first post on SEO.
Many customers feel that if you build a beautiful website, then customers will come pouring through the door.
In reality, there is more to website design than just pretty fonts, colors, and great imagery.
Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO) is the art form of optimizing your website for targeted keywords so that you rank as high as possible on search engines such as Google. Users who search for certain keywords on Google will likely find your website only if you rank high on Google, giving you the opportunity to convert those users into potential paying customers.
Page Rank is a term used to identify where you rank on a page for a targeted keyword. The higher the better. Typically, websites that appear in the top 3 results on Google tend to collect the far majority of clicks. Results below the top 5 quickly start to taper off, and subsequent pages will get very few clicks.
When designing a website, it is important to identify who the target customers are. Try answering the following questions:
- What are you selling?
- What will customers search for to find your products/services?
- How competitive are those terms?
- Are there more refined keywords that are more realistic to target?
There are many resources to help you identify the popularity of keywords. Check out Google AdWords which will tell you how many searches a particular word gets. Also Google Trends will tell you how those keywords have trended over time, and the related terms that people search for.
Optimizing your website
Great. So you have identified the keywords you want to target. Now lets update your website to mention these keywords.
- Title Tags: Update your page titles to include targeted keywords where appropriate.
- Description Tags: Description tags are what appear in the 2 line summary section in the google results page. The description should appropriately describe what that page is about. Add your keywords here if appropriate
- Page Name: The name of your page should appropriately describe its content, and ideally your keywords.
- Content: Your page should have content relevant to your users. This content should mention the keywords you are targeting. If you are blogging, or posting to other websites, it is a good idea to link back to your web page when mentioning targeted keywords.
- Links: Links should contain title tags describing the page that it is linking to. Ideally, these links also make mention of some of the targeted keywords.
- Images: Images should contain alt tags and title tags describing what the image represents. You should also add a caption below the image describing the image. This helps search engines index the image appropriately based on what is in it.
What to Avoid
You may hear the term "White Hat" and "Black Hat" techniques.
White Hat is when you take an ethical approach to optimizing your website and you follow the guidelines set by Google. You are genuinely producing relevant and interesting content for your visitors. Your pages are optimized with keywords you are targeting, but it makes sense to the user and the keywords are appropriate to the content. Links from other sites are on pages that are talking about the same topic and linking to your page is relevant and makes sense.
Black Hat is the unethical approach to SEO. Often this may give a short term boost to your page rank, but usually is discovered by Google and you end up being severly penalized. Sites often disappear off google when these techniques are employed. So what are the techniques black-hat utilizes? It often includes paying third party websites to link to your site. These third party websites often will have nothing in common with your product/services and provide no real benefit to users.
So, now you have an SEO optimized website. That is great news, but the work has just begun. Unless you are incredibly lucky, you probably wont rank very high yet (especially if you are a new site). There is no hard recipe to get you on the first page of google, but there are many things that can help you get there:
- Engage with the community. The more new and appealing content you provide on your website that customers enjoy, the faster you will move up the ranks. Try blogging. Try participating in other websites that share an interest in your product services.
- Age. The longer your website is around, and producing new content, the more likely google will crawl your website on a more frequent basis, improving your Page Rank.
- Be Social. Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter are providing more signals to Google about your website, brand, and content. Post links to your articles to multiple places. This will help it get picked up in more places, and Google will start picking it up to.
I hope you found this post useful.