Search Engine Optimization
Connect with People Through Search Engines. When people go online to search for the sorts of products, services or information you provide, they can find YOU or they can find YOUR competitors.
Today, we will go over how you can analyze your website to improve Search Engine Optimization or SEO as it is commonly referred to in the marketing and web development community.
When people go online to search for the sorts of products, services or information you provide, they can find YOU or they can find YOUR competitors.
My goal here is to help you understand a critical area of online marketing, and that is how to connect with people through search engines.
I’ll show you the components you should definitely include in your website and more importantly those that you should really stay away from.
If location is important for your business, I’ll explain how local search results and local information can really help you grow.
QWebDesign.com is designed to help you dig through the clutter to help you figure out what makes sense and what is important.
Let’s begin by GETTING TO KNOW SEO
In the ideal situation, you should think about SEO before the website has been built.
In most cases SEO is an afterthought. Something done to websites once they’ve been finished.
This is definitely not the perfect situation but that is most often the way it is.
Most of my clients come to me looking for help after they’ve already built a website.
I know many companies and small businesses out there are in this exact situation.
So, let’s assume that you already have a website. A website that you’ve inherited a website from a previous employee at your company, a site that you built yourself or vendor built for you. Regardless, it is probably a site that was built without thinking about SEO.
Now here we are…you want your website to rank better with the search engines.
Luckily, all is not lost. You can in most cases, modify an existing website to make it more search engine friendly.
It is often possible to take a website that appears to be nowhere on the search engines and make a few modifications here and there and start to see real significant improvement.
It is important that I point out one thing…it is by far cheaper to build it correctly in the first place…but we can’t really go back and change history.
So, I’ll go over what to look for, modify and change to make your website more search engine friendly…
In today’s web economy there are only two important search engines to worry about…Google and Bing…
If you get your site into those search engines and rank well…then you are doing well with search engines that provide search results for most of the world’s searches…in particular 97% or more of search engine results for individuals in North America.
What about Yahoo?
Yahoo gets their results from Bing…
What about AOL, EarthLink and Comcast?
These search engines get their results from Google.
Doing well with Google and Bing…will help you do well with most search sites…
Also important to note…the things you do to rank well with Google and Bing will help you improve your results for the other search engines like Ask.com.
A question that comes up often is what does optimizing a Site really mean?
Think of it as a first date. Yes, there are some first dates that are not all that memorable…So in this first date, what we are trying to do is put our best foot forward…we want to make it memorable…in marketing terms, we want to make it sticky…
How do we do that?
Well we structure our sites and creating search engine content in such a way that we are optimally positioned in search engine results…so that when someone searches for your business’ products, services or information your website ranks at the top or near the top of the search results.
Let’s put this into perspective for a moment. The job of the search engines is to figure out which pages out of more than a TRILLION are the most suitable ones to present to the search results.
How do search engines do it?
They essentially do it in two ways.
The first is to look at the text on the web pages. I know, for many people and businesses, text or website copy is something they would like to stay away from…but it is necessary and we’ll cover this more in depth in a future blog post.
The second thing search engines look for is the number of links pointing back to the website…
I want to make a point to say that these two items are not the ONLY items that affect SEO rankings…because the search engines literally have hundreds of criteria that they are searching for…these are simply two of the most important.
Other criteria that search engines look for include key words and where the key words are placed…for instance, are they in the page name, the title, page headings or body tags…how are the words formatted? Bold, Italic, top of the page or bottom of the page…and so on.
As I’ve mentioned, there are hundreds of criteria that the search engines are looking at to determine where a page should rank.
Unfortunately, the search engine companies like Google or Bing don’t disclose the criteria, which leads to a mass amount of misinformation in this business.
There is so much hidden information that it makes it difficult for businesses to invest in the time and energy needed to figure out what works best…
The whole process is like engineering without understanding the laws of physics…Oh and by the way…the laws change every few weeks.
You may have heard that SEO is constantly changing and it is a full time job to try and keep up…that is partially true.
The principles of SEO however – NEVER CHANGE.
I have clients who ranked well years ago and still rank well today.
Forget SEO for a moment:
Sometimes SEO is not the problem with a website. Website viewers are incredibly selective so your site must meet some minimum standards before SEO can make a difference.
Let me give you a couple of examples from my experience to prove the point.
A few years ago a new client came to me and said, we need more search engine traffic. I went to the website, looked at it and I had to make the difficult call to tell him, that he did not need more search engine traffic, but rather he needed a new website.
His website frankly looked like it was built by an amateur…As it turned out, the client was getting a fair amount of search engine traffic but he was not getting many calls. At the time he was selling only over the phone.
When he did get calls he got a lot of questions…people wanted to know where he got his products and weather or not they were any good – OUCH right?
When I see websites that don’t have the professional look and finish to them, I immediately know that it simply will not work. It will never matter how much website traffic is generated, that particular site will simply never succeed.
Who built this site, I asked the client…your nephew or was it the office manager? My client then responded with not quite the office manager, it was Joe the warehouse manager.
Obviously, we rebuilt the website.
And immediately to use the client’s words the phone started ringing off the hook.
They were not calling to ask the client questions but rather to place orders.
You need to be honest about this issue. Visit your website and make an honest assessment, would you trust the site? Would you buy from this website? Is your site professional looking? Is your site UGLY?
An ugly or unprofessional looking website won’t work well period.
Your site is your face to the world. So if it looks like an amateur built it, it conveys the impression that your business is run by armatures.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend told me that she was looking for a photographer for her wedding. She’s been looking online. She said that when she lands on an amateurish looking website she simply hits the back button. She knows that the photographer might still be good, but hey she says…that’s just what I do.
Here’s a quick little experiment find 5 competitors to your business…Load them into different tabs in your web browser. Then load yours into yet another tab and move from tab to tab pausing briefly at each site. Now be honest, would you buy from your site?
If the answer is NO then you are going after the wrong cause…
It will not matter how much you optimize your website. If it doesn’t create the right impression it won’t work.
One other issue is usability. If your site is confusing or makes it hard to get things done; again, optimizing the site may not be the most important thing right now.
There is no point in bringing people to the site if they’ll get frustrated and leave.
I wanted to bring attention to these issues, as they are more common than you’d think.
I hope that you found this information helpful.
Until next time, I'm Carlos Quintero from QWebDesign.com helping you compete in today's web economy!