Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complex and requires a systemic approach when working to enhance your natural search results strategy. “Natural” or “organic” searches that drive traffic to your websites are just that: the natural choices a user would make in entering search words (or sometimes, a singlular word…resulting in the user finding a new universe on the internet rather than more directed results).
A natural search assumes that you may not yet have other strategies in place, or if you do, you are still trying to optimize this type of search. Other strategies you can pay for include SEO/Search Engine Marketing (SEM) analysis services, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, linkbuilding services and trend analysis.
It Happens Overnight?
Not exactly, it takes a few months, maybe as many as 4-6 or 7 after you’ve put these strategies in place for you to see good results. One source sites “over 200 SEO factors that Google uses to rank pages in the Google search results.” So a working understanding of how search engines (SE) do their magic will help increase the chances of your site appearing high in a list of thousands or more search results.
Certain keywords and/or keyword phrases are highly competitive – meaning they describe and are used for a wide array of businesses with websites offering those products or services. “Cooking” and “appliances” describe a huge variety of products and services and keywords like these are competitive. So, logically, there are hundreds and hundreds of websites using these as keywords; it would be an uphill battle to achieve a Top 10 search result with natural searches.
Most internet users know what they want and often know specific details about what they want. One of the keys through this Labyrinth is to understand what specific goal or target users have when they search. For example, after a home fire, a user may know they want to find a “residential restoration” service or they may know they want to find a “residential restoration fire water damage” service or even more specifically “paul davis residential fire water damage restoration theirtown.”
The last two sets are much more specific and competition for these is probably lower – they are applicable to fewer companies offering those products or services. Using more specific keywords and phrases can help better optimization and search rankings, providing there are enough numbers of people searching on those terms. Choosing keywords that are specific but not popular with users won’t necessarily deliver better results.
A Good Foundation
Doing some keyword research will help you build a good foundation for choosing keywords for your website. Doing some marketing research for your geographic area or your own target audience will give you even more ammunition. And trust yourself. You are the expert in your industry and your local area…how would your target audience search for you? There are several free keyword search tools online. They give you an indication of how popular certain words or phrases are based on current databases from companies such as Google and Nielsen. Keep in mind, the results provide good indicator – not the end all of keyword results. Your industry, vertical market, product and geographic location are among the things that affect the outcome, not to mention results from automated traffic (you guess it, another Labyrinth path).
Cross check your word search with various free tools. We found a few:
Improving Your Search Results Ranking
When a user enters words into a search field, the search engines go to work and in seconds, have wound their way through countless number of websites and web pages looking for the combination of keywords the user entered. By using some smart content strategies you can help increase your search results ranking. The following are some factors that affect page ranking and most are things you can put into place yourself.
So there are a few important “on-page” items and “off-page” factors that we look at:
Things to do On-Page:
Things that affect your site ranking Off-Page:
- Length of time your site has been live.
- How popular your website links are.
- Link popularity within the site’s internal link structure.
~ Whether others linking to your site are relevant to the topic of your site.
- Topical relevance of inbound links to site.
~ Whether the inbound links to your site are well-worded and use your keywords.
- Anchor text of inbound links
- The quality of sites who link to your site.
~ Whether your site links are popular overall and draw users to your site.
- Global link popularity of site
Several off-page items are dependent on other websites’ awareness of your website and content. There are strategies you can employ on your site that can influence this, especially when they involve other sites linking to your site. Since this is yet another path in the Labyrinth, we will save this topic for another discussion.
Search Engines Are Your Friends
These days there are so many metrics that add value to search rankings, but keywords still provide the foundation of attracting search traffic. Search engines, depending on how many (or few) words the user queries, return a list of relevant sites that is ordered by relevancy or importance to the keywords. Again – searching through what could be thousands of websites and thousands and thousands of webpages, almost in a blink of an eye. As the web designer and/or content author, you can help your search engines friends by making your sites and content more SE “compliant” – by getting with their program and using keywords in the same key positions on the webpage.
Page Construction to Optimize Keywords
Once you’ve determined your keywords and phrases that users most often use to find your company, product and/or service, you’ll need to incorporate them into your webpages. The days of hiding keywords with white text (stealthy invisible), or using them repetitively in every html tag are gone. Keywords must now be incorporated logically into your content and add to the usability of your page and content from a users’ standpoint. Using the stealth strategy will actually cost you SE ranking as the SEs will realize the tactic and penalize your site accordingly. Search engines and their algorithms don’t like when we webmortals think we can outsmart them.
Again, the goal is to place your keywords in positions on the page that SEs can find them easily. Search engines interpret how important the keywords are to the user by the keywords’ placement on the page. Roll up your sleeves and revamp your pages and content:
Title Tag. Place a keyword phrase in the title tag; the title tag is about the most important factor when SEs rank webpages. Including keywords in the title tag shows the SEs the page’s focus. It is important to have a title tag on pages such as special interest, product, and services pages.
Header – H1 Tag. In HTML-speak, your “H1 tag” is the “header” or “headline” – generally, the large one liner at the top of your page. Bigger is better in this case: SEs consider larger type to be more important because it is more visible and easily read. HTML header codes go from largest to smallest, H1 to H6. Your H1 Tag should contain your keywords for that page.
Other Header Tags – H2 to H6. The H-Tags specify a text hierarchy for headlines or subheads on your page. The higher the H-Tag number the smaller the text size. Generally, H1 is the only headline on the page, appearing at the top of the page. H2 tags are slightly smaller and can appear as subheads for the page. H3 tags are even smaller and may serve as a header for a bulleted list. H6 is the smallest text size and you may want to use this tag for image captions.
You don’t need to use all of the H-Tags, but their hierarchy should stay in tact. Again, part of the SE search involves keywords in the H1 tag, so remember to use a keyword or two in the headline of the page. In this way, you are optimizing the relevance of the keywords on the page as well as providing reinforcement to your users. They’ll see the Title Tag and the page headline (H1) with the same words they’ve searched for and know that they’ve come to the right website.
Keyword-rich Content. This may be “logical” but it is still worth mentioning. Your page content should contain your keywords and phrases several times. If you have target keywords per page, each page should mirror the unique set of key words. The content should be relevant and different for each page.
Creating extra pages on your site with duplicate content is another strategy that SEs don’t like; they will recognize the duplicate page content and give your site a lower rating. Also, if you mindlessly repeat your content, SE filters would catch it and not rank your site. Unique content using your keywords is critical when you are dependent on natural search results.
There are a few ways to increase unique keyword-rich content that make SEs happy:
- Break up your content by using subheads containing keywords.
- Include keywords in the first sentence of your content and tie it up nicely with a summary sentence containing keywords.
- Depending on the page design, bold your keywords now and then for emphasis. Create visual interest by pulling out important aspects of content as a bulleted list – keywords should also appear in this list.
- Attribute images with a caption containing keywords.
- Give your images and links Alt-Tags (or a Title Tag) using keywords.
- Also, provide a way for your users or solicit your users to send you testimonials about your product, service or company (for example, a blog that users may participate in by submitting comments)
~ Content from your users is highly coveted because it can provide relevant and unique content without you having to generate it.
Search engines also looks at your internal links (page containing a link and the page the link goes to within your website). By making some text a link, you create “anchor text.” When you use keywords in your “anchor text” search engines consider the page it links to important to that keyword.
Meta Description Tags.
Meta Description Tags summarize the page “in 25 words or so” and are put into a “hidden” or background part of the webpage. When search engines display search results, they typically display the Meta Description Tag under the title of the page in the results. Again, include your keywords and keyword phrases. Use the most important keywords for that specific webpage.
If you feel as if the Tasmanian Devil has just whirled around your head a few times, you’re not alone. Search Engine Optimization is logical, but its logic contains many, many variables. These variables must be in place for the SEs to find your site among possibly thousands in a natural search query. Some of the variables are more difficult to control (mainly the age of your site). But by following these key strategies, you increase your search result rankings within the SEO Labyrinth.
- Update your site often – with photos and content. Activity on your site always verifies to SEs that your site is authentic.
- Generate key words and phrases for each page of your site. You can do this just by sections of your site as well.
- Include keywords in your Title Tag. Make sure your keywords are also in your Headline (H1) of the page; use the H1 to H6 tag hierarchy giving relative importance to text on your webpage.
- Mirror your key words and key phrases in your content at least 3 or 4 times. Use the terms logically – you cannot just type your key word over and over and over.
- Use bullet point lists containing keywords as a way to break up the page content and add key words w/out having to write longer sentences.
- Bold at least one of your keywords within your content – it gives importance to that word. If you can do this to several keywords without making the content awkward, this is even better.
- Use keywords in your text links to your own site pages.
- Give your images captions and alternative text – this is an opportunity for you to get more key words on the page.
- Acquire user-generated content.
Website Optimization and Marketing Consulting
ELEMENTS Inc. | 805-547-1160 x205
The primary objective of any focused marketing initiative is to drive qualified leads, which convert into users, customers and clients. ELEMENTS specializes in creating business results for franchise and mid-size companies using integrated website optimization and internet marketing strategies, with a firm belief that success can not be obtained with a singular focus on one small portion of “Search Engine Optimization”.
Successful website optimization requires holistic planning and management of all aspects of search engine marketing (SEM) including public relations, website content, keyword buys and search engine optimization, as well as most aspects of information architecture, user-interface and online community best practices. ELEMENTS applies both marketing sensibility and technical expertise for campaigns that focus on customer acquisition and retention.