A few weeks back we had a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Workshop where my eyes were truly opened on how much goes into a successful website. If you plan on building a website, you should definitely learn about SEO beforehand because it is much easier to build a website with SEO in mind than to adapt everything later on. Your website being optimized from day 1 means more hits and better rankings as time goes on. After all, what good is your website if your potential users can’t find it? There are hundreds of millions of websites out there, so you have to use SEO to make yours conquer the rest.
Below are some notes and resources gathered from Polly Mertens presentation at our meeting. I know this meeting has inspired me to learn more about SEO and in turn fix the SEO problems on my dad’s company website, so hopefully this information will help inspire some of you to at least learn more about it. The web is always evolving, and Google is always changing things, so SEO is definitely something you want to keep up to date on so you aren’t left in the dust.
-R. David Couch
- Great SEO Overview: http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo
- Great Start Up Guide: http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo
- What are keywords? http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo/keyword-research
- How do I incorporate keywords on my website? http://www.seomoz.org/blog/perfecting-keyword-targeting-on-page-optimization
- Google controls 85%+ search traffic
- Time investment, but low cost
- Creating a long term asset
- Buying vs. owning
How to make Google happy
- Provide unique, valuable content to searchers
- Earn the respect of other sites
- Need to build inbound links from respected sources and industry experts, links are not just links anymore
- Consistently expanding
- Adding new content
- Adding relationships and referrals
Resource: SEO Quake http://www.seoquake.com/
- Gives ranking of PR value for SEO
- Plugin/add-on for your browser
Keywords are Key to Traffic
- Google looks at keywords as a distinct search
- What are the people out there looking for me looking for?
- “Wine Tasting Paso Robles”, “Wine Tasting Atascadero”
- very different traffic, you are going to want to focus more on Paso Robles
- Broader key words such as just “wine” not as effective. Higher ranked, but won’t drive as much traffic since it is not regional
- Find high volume search terms (target keywords)
- National vs regional (city)
- Suggested not to go for National traffic, stick to local or else you are wasting your time
- Exact match (winery vs. wine tasting)
- Ranking by Local Monthly Searches tells you what phrases are being used the most
- Highest ranked = most traffic
- In short, use this to do a LOT of research as to what search terms are best
- Think about the search patterns every 6 months to a year, they change.
- When wording your website to optimize yet still sound natural, keep keywords as close together as possible, and Google does NOT look at punctuation
- Ending and starting two sentences with a key word phrase is a great way to utilize this. “Looking for great wine tasting? Paso Robles is blah blah blah”
- Google will give different results if the user is logged in or not, and also where they are located
- For instance, searching “Wine tasting Austin” will give different results if you are searching within Austin or within San Luis Obispo
- On the Google search results page you can change your location to give yourself an idea of what a user in that region would see.
- View the source code of webpage through web browser
- First look and take into consideration Title
- Title meta tag must absolutely be correct, if nothing else
- The link that appears on Google is your Title
- Next look for Description
- For keywords, you want 5 separated by commas, make primary keyword the first one
- Also incorporate this into your title and description
- H1 Headline is important, H2’s are as well but not quite as much
- You want linking within your website to be as close to the top of your webpage.
- If your site is about chocolate donuts, say chocolate donuts in the first sentence
What is optimization?
- Keywords make it easy for Google to match you with searcher’s interest
- On Page Optimization and Off Page Optimization
- People that link to your website – much more valuable if their link contains the keyword in it, such as in a short paragraph
- You want off page optimization to be from industry related websites ideally
Off Page Optimization
- Have variety of sources – Directories, related sties, social network profiles, social bookmarking links, blog posts, press releases, online articles
- In-bound links build your credibility
- Keyword rich text links are best
- ALWAYS BE LINK BUILDING!
- .edu, .org sites have a lot of power in Google if they link you; high credibility
On Page Optimization
- One primary keyword per page
- Meta data
- Title, description, 5 keywords
- Heading (H1) and sub-headings
- First paragraph
- Sprinkle primary keyword into the copy
- Link using the keyword (ideally in 1st paragraph)
- Alt-text on images
- URL or file name
Link exchange page
- Have a Resources or Links page
- Make it partly valuable to readers, and make the links valuable to the people you are linking
- You should link other people first as a good gesture, then let them know and ask if they can make a link as well
- Build these relationships!
- Be mindful that many people won’t have a single idea of what you have done and its value, so you have an opportunity to teach them something and then get a link out of it.
One thing you can do is set up Google alerts to send you a list of sources that have used your keywords
- Say one is an article, see if you can post comments, read the article, and then post something valuable with your link in it
- Not spam, and it is a fantastic strategy.