Search Engine Optimization
What is Search Engine Optimization?
This is a term that gets thrown around a lot by web professionals, usually referring to it as SEO.
Web Designer: “We need to SEO your URL, so we’ll need to implement meta tags, alt tags and keywords. The spiders and robots will have no problem finding you.”
Client: “I’m scared.”
No need to fear anything other than a designer who does not satisfactorily explain things to your understanding. Now let’s decipher that dialog!
Simply put, search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to setting your website up in the best possible way so that search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! can find you. This way, when someone does a web search for a product or service that you sell, your website will show up in the listing. But have you ever noticed how many results come up when you do a Google search? Most of the time you get anywhere from 100 to 1,000,000 results!! Can you say, information overload? No one is sticking around to go through all those results. I personally don’t look beyond the fourth or fifth page of listings, and usually the most pertinent results appear at the top of the list anyway. Enter Search Engine Optimization.
There are certain things that can be done to the code of each web page that Google and Bing (and other search engines) like to see. This is also referred to as “organic SEO.” Usually this term refers to anything that can be done without additional purchase to make your site visible. A web designer should include this as part of their services, because without this, it could be a very, very long time before you find yourself in the listings.
Here are the basic elements that should be part of the code of every web page:
- meta tag keywords and content
- alternative attributes on all images
- text-based navigation
- a unique page title for each page that uses key words and phrases
- one main heading (heading level one) per page
Additionally, having a web page that lists all the pages within your site with links to those pages, called a sitemap, should also be considered. This page is not only a convenient index for your visitors, but it also provides extra text linking for every page on your site.
Okay so the web designer should be taking care of those items for you. Do you have a part in this? You betcha! Your web page content is very important in this whole process. It needs to be pertinent and truly helpful to the viewer. The saying goes “content is king.” In fact, key words should be used throughout each page, as makes sense, and the designer should be pulling those keywords from your content and using them in the items mentioned above. And it’s not that every page uses the same key words, but each page, within its particular topic will use its own keywords. What are key words? These are words or phrases that are pertinent to your business and that you think your prospective clients will use in the search engines.
Now of course there are many other things that go into getting websites higher rankings. There are whole books and websites on just this topic. Heck, there are whole careers based on this discipline. Your options to go beyond the steps I’ve mentioned here are either to hire an employee who is devoted to your website marketing and rankings, or contract a professional SEO expert. But the information I’ve offered here gives you a good launch!
So as you work together with your web designer, doing all the thing’s I’ve mentioned above, you will have a nicely SEO’d website. And now the designer/client dialog can look like this:
Web Designer: “Um yeah, I’ll SEO that site for ya with some meta tags.”
Client: “Be sure to pull my page content keywords into the meta tags. Make sure there is only one first level heading per page, and don’t forget unique page titles with pertinent keywords for each page. You heard me.”