Who has time to read the thousands of articles on SEO on the internet? Below is a basic primer that every website owner should read. More questions? Just call, text or email us, we’re happy to point you in the right direction.

Definition

Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a process of applying many techniques to make your web site rank high on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

SEO Techniques

The goal is to have your page ranked high enough that it is displayed on the first page of search results. To do that your site must be considered authoritative by the search providers algorithms (web crawlers). That is why “content is king” is what people talk about. Of course there’s more to it than that.

The Good News: Coming up with a SEO strategy and sticking with it will improve your search engine results.
The Bad News: It’s going to take up to 6 months to a year before you get meaningful results. There is a lot of competition out there and being successful isn’t going to happen overnight.

Meta Tags

These are HTML tags that are placed in the section of a web page. Important ones are TITLE, KEYWORDS, and DESCRIPTION.

TITLE

This is what you name the web page. Each page on your site should have a unique title that is descriptive of the content. The title will be displayed on the browser’s top bar and will also be used as the search result title. If you don’t have a TITLE tag, your page will be listed as “Untitled” – not good. Keep it brief and to the point. If your page is about fire extinguishers, the title should be something like: “ReddyOrNot.Com | Fire Extinguishers”.
Titles are important but they will only help you if they are topical to your content. For instance, if every page in your web site has the same title, that isn’t going to help you.

DESCRIPTION

This is a BRIEF description of the page content. Each page should have a unique description. The description tag is displayed by search engines underneath the TITLE. It is your chance to say something that will entice a customer to click on your link. Why keep BRIEF? You need to convey your description in less than 160 letters and spaces. Anything after that number will not be displayed in a search result. You can and should add more to the description than 160 characters. Add in other bits that might be interesting to search engines. Lets say you sell a Widget. Your description would include the Widget’s name in the first 160 characters. If there is a common misspelling of your Widget, include that in the description after 160 characters.

KEYWORDS

Back in the old days before search providers got a lot more sophisticated, the KEYWORDS meta tag was very important. It is still used to rank a page but has a much smaller impact on a page rank. Each page should have a unique keywords. Think about all the words that someone would search on to find this page. Add those to your keywords. Include misspellings if applicable. Keep the keywords topical to the content on the page. You can have as many keywords as you like – but keep it topical.

Content

Your goal is to create a site that the search engines consider authoritative and topical to a particular keyword search. Most of this has to do with you writing something on the topic and posting it on your web site. But there are other things you can do to get listed above most of your competitors. Your job is to make it easy for search engines to figure out what the topic is for your page and make it easy for them to index. IMPORTANT – the title, keywords, description, and content should be about the same topic and have some depth.

Heading Tags and Boldness

A well formed page uses Header Tags (h1, h2, h3, etc) OFTEN. This not only breaks up a page so it doesn’t look like one big glob of text that no one wants to read. These tags are used by search engines to guess at what the page is about. A search engine’s crawler will read your code. It doesn’t actually view your page in a browser. A crawler will come across the HTML tag “h1” and assume that this is an important heading about the content that follows. A “h2” tag would be a sub-topic, h3 another, and so on. If the Headers include keywords and the content is about the Header, you’re on the right track. You can also bold words or sentences to highlight parts that are important. Just don’t over do it because that makes a page annoying to look at.

Images

Images are important to a page. They help the viewer get a sense for what the page is about quickly and without reading. Each image should have a “alt” tag that is displayed if a customer has images turned off. And since search engine crawlers don’t view your page, they will use this to figure out what the picture is – it is another opportunity to use your keywords. You should also use descriptive words for the image file. AA01.jpg doesn’t mean much to anyone but the person who created it. Using “widget.jpg” is more descriptive. On a design note, you should know something about how to create an image for a web page. Images for the web do not need to be high resolution. They should be sized accordingly. Poorly sized images can have a seriously negative impact on your web site if they slow it down so much that customers leave before they have a chance to load.
If you have an image from a digital camera, it will likely be 1200 x 1600 pixels – far larger than most users computer screens. An image that size could also be 1mb or more in size. One your web site, the image would probably be scaled down to 300 x 500, for example. Resize your image to that size and then save it at 85% quality. You will not notice a difference on a computer screen but the file size will go down to about 40kb – a huge difference.

Flash

Just don’t go there. Save some money and do something else. Indexing the content of a Flash page is difficult… If you’re like many of us, pages that heavily rely on Flash are not so much fun to view unless they are done really, really well. If you have the money and a big name, go for it. Many users find Flash ads to be so annoying that they disable Flash. That doesn’t do you much good if your rely on it and you customers can’t see what you have invested in. In most cases it is best to avoid spending money on Flash-only pages. You can add videos to make your page more interesting but these should be add-ons to the overall content.

Update Often

If your page remains static, the search engines won’t visit as often. When a page is first noticed by a search engine, they will visit your site and look at each page over a period of time (days, weeks). After they are done, they will come back now and then to see if anything has changed. If nothing gets changed, well, you get the idea. Your site should be updated often with new content and revised content. That will keep the search engines coming back. Your page will appear actively maintained and that’s a good thing.