Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We hear from people all the time about how their websites aren’t being found in the Search Engines. Most of them paid a designer a lot of money to get a new website created figuring that it’d be a great way to market their business or organization. And then, the site fizzled out with no one finding it.

As part of designing a website, our firm believes it is part of the design process to appropriately prepare the site for marketing. In the business, the term for this is Search Engine Optimization (also called frequently – SEO). The reason this is so important is because simply having a website doesn’t mean anyone is ever going to find it.

There are lots and lots of things that should be done to appropriately prepare a website for the Search Engines. Here are a few of those items that will help you understand what it takes. This is something that our web design firm does for our clients automatically, and often we get hired to do it on sites we didn’t design.

Search Engine Optimization:

1) Meta Tags – The most important thing to get into a website are Meta Tags. These primarily consist of a Title, Description, and Keywords for every page of the website. The Meta Tags go into the “code” of the site in what’s called the Header. Every page of your website should have unique tags that describe that specific page. If you do the same tag everywhere, then you will only have one page listed in the Search Engines. Whereas, if you have unique tags, then all of your pages will get picked up. Typically the Title Tag should describe what is on that page and your company name, and it should be between 50 and 75 characters long. The Description tag should overview the page in about two sentences (which match the content on that page) and should be between 200 to 250 characters long. And, the Keywords should be a list of words and phrases (not more than two words together) that describe the page in a comma delimited list that is about 150 to 200 characters long. On all of these tags, don’t go way over the character limit because that is considered “shouting” and will count against you. There are some other Meta Tags that should go into your Homepage, but the above ones we discussed are the most important.

2) The Text on Your Site – Having good content on your site is extremely important. The Search Engines are looking to provide good results, so when they scan or spider your site they are looking to pick up good information. If you don’t put any text or don’t write enough, then they have little to pick up. If you put all of your text on a your site as an “image” or in a fancy “flash animation” then they have nothing to pick up. Every page of your website needs to have strong and appropriate text not only for your viewers to read, but for the Search Engines to use to list you.

3) Alt or Picture Tags – I’m sure you’ve rolled over an image and seen the little text pop-up that happens. Originally, the concept of having tags on a picture was for handicap people to be able to know what a picture was about. A blind person could roll over the image and if there was a tag, then their speakers would tell them what it said describing the image. This still applies, of course. But, the Search Engines have incorporated this element into their algorithm to determine what your site is about. It doesn’t count as much as the Meta Tags and the Text on Your Site, but it does count. So, making sure to install Tags on all of the images that really use good keywords to describe that image is very helpful to good marketing. You typically can put around 150 characters in this and still not be “shouting” at them. So, describe each image in a clean and keyword heavy way.

4) The Keyword Squeeze – We already talked about having good text on your site, but an additional element to this is squeezing in Keywords all over your pages. This can be done in a tactful way that helps your Search Engine percentages. For example, most sites have a Copyright Statement at the bottom that typically says, “Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.” This is something no one ever really reads, so why not add some text by saying, “Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved. The content of this DESCRIBE YOUR WEBSITE WITH KEYWORDS is exclusively owned by YOUR COMPANY NAME AND LOCATION. We are the premiere ADD MORE KEYWORDS ABOUT YOUR COMPANY and want to work with you…” type of text. This is hidden at the bottom of every page on your site, no one really reads it, but the Search Engines will pick up all those great Keywords to use in your favor. This is just one example, so look at every spot on your site to squeeze in more Keywords.

5) Real Links – If you had a fancy site designed using Flash or all of your Navigational Links are using some feature like Javascript, then your pages might not be accessible to the Search Engines. Providing real links so that the engines can scan or spider your site is very important. They typically start at the Homepage and then follow your links throughout your site. If they can’t follow the links, then only your Homepage gets picked up. So, it’s always a good idea to put real link somewhere on your pages. We typically do this in the footer of your site. It helps people get around your site when they reach the bottom of a page they’ve been reading, and it helps the Search Engines flow through the site easier.

These are just some of the ways to get your site better listed in the Search Engines. We can help you with this task to really make a difference in the amount of traffic your site receives and how it is listed in the Search Engines. We’d be happy to talk with you about the options, so contact us today.

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