SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Put as simply as I can, SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) is the process of getting your web site up to the top - or close to the top - on Yahoo, Google and the rest of the search engines. Yahoo, ask.com, MSN, and Google are the biggest search engines, but there are thousands of smaller ones. If you’re a chiropractor in Memphis, good SEO work would bring your business to the top of Yahoo when someone who is looking for a chiropractor types in "chiropractor Memphis".
The term "search engine optimization" is now being replaced by the more appropriate term for what we do - search engine marketing.
When is the best point in the web design and development process to implement SEO?
Alpha and omega. The moment you start designing your site, you want to think "SEO" - and you want to keep thinking it throughout your process.
What tells search engines what keywords are relevant?
The search engine companies send out data collectors called "spiders" or "robots" that jump from site to site, gathering all the content and going to links to see the rest of the site and other sites. There are millions of spiders and robots all doing their work at the same time.
What does SEO consist of?
There are a lot of things to consider when optimizing your site for search engines. Here are some of the most important Do's and Don'ts:
- Keyword Density – Really, keywords are more like key phrases. Make a list of words and phrases that your target audience will most likely type into Yahoo or Google to try to find a business like yours. If you own a fine dining restaurant in Memphis, some keywords for you might be: Memphis fine dining, restaurants Memphis, where to eat Memphis, etc. Think like the average mom out there planning a date night out with her husband, or planning a trip to Memphis and she's looking for a nice restaurant. What would she most likely type into that search bar?
- Ranking Tools - The use of ranking tools such as Web CEO allows you to find the best keywords to use in your SEO. Yahoo and Google both have free keyword search tools.
- Clean Code – If you don't understand the next few sentences, you need to read up on this a bit first. Find a beginner's book or online articles on building websites to get a basic understanding. I recommend "Sam's Teach Yourself Web Publishing HTML in 21 Days," but there are many, many books available on this subject. Just pick one and start learning. That's what I did. If you don't want to invest all the time to do this yourself and you want help, contact us.
Back to clean code. It's best to use CSS to help you lay out your website and images rather than extravagant HTML like tables. Code your fonts into CSS as well. The font tag in HTML is essentially a hack that adds markup to your HTML file. The more HTML tags or markup you can eliminate, the more the keywords that are recognized by search engines.
- Minimize Image Links - Search engines give more emphasis to text links than image links.
- Don't Use Flash For Important Links Or Text - Search engines currently don't see any of the text or links inside flash. To search engines, Flash is nothing but a graphic element that takes a big chunk of space.
- Use Lists for Menus - Text and links inside lists are seen with great emphasis in the eyes of search engines. It's best to use lists for menus to ensure that the search engine gives more emphasis to the main pages of your site.
- Heading Tags - Search engines put an emphasis on the heading HTML tags such as <h1>.
- Use ALT Text - In the tag of the few images that you actually decide to put into your HTML, give them alternative (ALT) text. Search engines also look for this as well. Here's how it's displayed:
<img src="http://www.yoursite.com/image.jpg" alt="alternative text describing the image" />
- Meta Keywords/Description - Although search engines are backing away from using these, it's still good to include them for the ones that still do.
- Use Bold and Italics - Search engines see bold and italic text as slightly more important than regular text, so use this on key words inside your text.
- Rich Titles - The title of your page is one of the most important places to put your keywords. This takes a lot of thinking and planning. You need to do an Uncovery first, then develop a good strategy for your domain name and page titles.
- File Names - The name of your file also plays a role in how important it is. Name images and documents with keywords separated by hyphens or underscores.
- Link Exchange - Get other people to link to your site using your keywords. The best way to do this is to provide them with the same deal. Search engines base the validity of your site on how many people link to you.
- Continuation Of SEO Efforts - Fine-tuning, link building, and monitoring is an ongoing process of SEO, even after your site is live to the public. It's most important that you keep up with the adding of keywords and links from other sites.
Is SEO right for my business?
YES. Whether you have products, service, or an idea, a newsletter, information about fishing at your favorite place, a book to sell, a church, if your running for office - SEO (or search engine marketing) can bring you people that are interested in what you do! There is always someone looking for your subject on the web no matter what it is. SEO brings you that much closer to them, so that they can find you.