SEO and How to Get It
SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization”. Climbing to the top of Google’s ever-changing search algorithms is the perceived goal but the caveat for most efforts at Search Engine Optimization is “it all depends”. It all depends on the type of business you are, who your audience is, what you hope to achieve over time, and how you will measure success.
Many factors can influence your search engine ranking. The age of your domain name (a domain and site that has been up for a longer time will typically do better than brand-new sites in the same subject), the appearance of keywords in said domain name, the accessibility of the code, the quality of your content and the competition (or, saturation) for specific keywords in your industry. Search ranking will fluctuate over time. Ranking is also a measure of your sites “popularity” (number of reciprocal links that have propagated through link exchanges, Social Networking sites, blogs and internal links) as well as your sites relevance to specific searches.
Good SEO is common sense. The web is a dynamic environment that rewards unique, fresh content. Give users a reason to visit your site more often, link to your sites articles on social networks, comment on other industry-related websites, check-in with your web developer and ask about blogging if you are not already maintaining a blog page or site for your business.
Ideally, SEO should be part of your normal content development process – and an ongoing area of refinement for your web site and blog articles.
Writing for the World Wide Web
(from Google so pay attention)
Write easy-to-read text – Users enjoy content that is well-written and easy to follow!
Stay organized around the topic – It’s always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.
Use relevant language – Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their
search queries than someone who is new to the topic.
Create fresh, unique content – New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
Offer exclusive content or services – Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites may lack the resources or expertise to do these things. (Note: this is where Blogs and Social Networking sites can be useful – they are effective tools to promote news and services while establishing quality links back to your site.)
*Create content primarily for your users, not search engines – Designing your site around your visitors’ needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.
* Creating high quality content is essential and is now a factor in search engine results. Learn about Google’s Quality Guidelines here…
In short, write your own content and keep it relevant to your unique services. You know what you do better than anyone else – Eat Paint Studio can help you edit and refine your content to make sure that you are utilizing important keyword weight (the natural occurrence of keywords in your content).
Keywords, META tags (descriptions and keywords) as well as page titles and page headings will all help achieve a search result.
Top Ten On-Site and On-Page SEO Tips
- Crawl-able: Is your website W3 standards compliant and does it include a Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml file? Also, is your site not in Flash?
- Readable URLS: Is the page URL in your browser readable by humans and does it use keywords? Read this article on Best Practices for URL’s.
- Canonical Homepage: Don’t have duplicate site content. Make sure “http://www.yoursite.com” or “http://yoursite.com” both resolve to the same URL. It doesn’t matter which one your choose but choose one. Your web designer should be able to do this for you.
- Have a unique 404 page: The rule of thumb is to Be Helpful – and have some fun with it. Its not the user’s fault that your page content moved or doesn’t exist anymore – don’t lose their trust. Why this matters and examples of some good 404 pages on Smashing Magazine.
- Only one <h1> heading value per page – and it should be a property of your page title.
- Use keywords in your <title> tag – this is the title that appears in your browser window above the URL window. Yoast’s SEO plugin for WordPress will allow you to handcraft these entries. Every page title should be unique and reflect the content of that page. Use your long-tail keywords!
- Use a META description. This won’t impact Google search results but it is helpful to users – and, hey, you’re here to help, right? The META description is the little blurb (or first few lines of your page) that appear in a search result or when you post a link to facebook.
- Include keywords in your page content – just focus on a few keywords throughout your site and develop trust. Build on these keywords and refine your content over time. Keywords should appear naturally in the flow of your content. Don’t be pushy.
- Alt image tags – although search engines can’t “see” your images, they can read the image file name and the “alt” image tag. Instead of the default filename “image_01119899DCS.jpg,” call it by its proper name. EX: “willis-tower-chicago.jpg”. Use dashes to separate keywords. Use the “alt” tag to describe an image for non-visual browsers and screen-readers. Again, be helpful.
- Tag your blog articles! For WordPress users and all of my clients: Tags are custom keywords unique to each blog post. Use this dynamic feature of WordPress. One primary category and 5-7 keyword tags are good.