seo1I am often asked what SEO is, what it isn’t, and what’s one thing my clients can do to help their SEO. As you will see Search Engine Optimization is not just one thing that will or won’t keep your site from reaching the coveted first page of Google. I’ll try to cover a good deal of what contributes to a site's Search Engine Optimization.

Ascertain competitors inbound links
Often by researching your competitors, you can find where their inbound links are coming from and, advertise/promote yourself at those exact links if applicable. While you are at their site, check out their keywords – you can maybe get ideas as to what keywords/phrases they are using that you may not have considered.

Blog
I can’t say enough about blogs and the effectiveness of blogging! They offer credibility to your site and your knowledge of your product/service/industry, they let your customer know you care enough to share this information with them, they promote two-way conversation by allowing visitor comments; then you comment on their comments, they allow for more opportunities for your website/keywords to be found.

Content

  • Body text, titles and headings (using appropriate CSS tags) and body copy should support and reiterate rich keywords, and be unique to each page
  • Bold keywords within the body copy
  • Sites containing less than 2,500 words can be penalized by search engines
  • Utilize keywords in your H1 text (Headings)

Domain Name
Purchase your domain name for long periods of time. Search engines see that as a stable, notable site. Many spam or adult sites are “here today, gone tomorrow” and are therefore not ranked as high with search engines.

Also, a domain name with a name bearing your industry is much more effective. For example: instead of choosing “JoesStore.com”, select “JoesShoes.com” This is much more descriptive for the search engines. The downfall of this is that many good domain names are often hard to find or come with a high price tag and sometimes you are left with something that isn’t your first choice.

Email Marketing
Each time I send out an email marketing campaign, I receive calls from customers. Not just one call, but several – mostly that same day! Talk about great return on investment! This is because when you deliver an effective email campaign, you are keeping that communication open with your clients and reminding them that you are there for them. But probably the most important feature of email marketing is getting clients to "hit" your site. Link articles and other important information back to the pages on your site.

Feeds
RSS Feeds are quickly becoming an industry standard for potential clients to subscribe to your blog and being notified when new content is posted. Feeds bring more hits back to your site as well.

Google
The name is synonymous with web ingenuity.

  • Use Google Analytics to check visitor trending such as, keyword usage and adjust accordingly. Check ROI immediately by seeing visitors coming from referring sites, create a traffic funnel for how you want clients to navigate through your site, and MUCH more.
  • Create a free Google Local Ad
  • Google Webmaster Tools are a great way to see how often your site is being indexed, if a Sitemap has been uploaded, number of inbound links and more.

Honor thy Press Release...
by submitting them to PR Directories. Worthwhile news can be shared with others and offer more opportunities for inbound linking and others to find your site.

Indexing
In order for your site to rank well in search results pages, it's important to make sure that Google can crawl and index your site correctly. Uploading a Sitemap (not a visitor site map) to Google and Yahoo is particularly helpful.

Just say no to SEO killers

  • Don't use Flash, frames or DHTML on your site
  • Don't use images on your site for navigation, buttons or important information – search engines can’t “see” images.
  • Don't use tables on your site
  • Too many graphics, not enough content

Keyword Analysis
Focus on high-traffic, highly-relevant keywords. Give the search engines a few days to access your content and re-check your ranking based upon this. Tweek and refine as needed.

Links

  • Make sure links are representative of what they pertain to, as search engines pick up on links as being an important part of your site. For example, a link to a continuation of an article, instead of click “here” to read that article. Say something which is more descriptive for the search engine spiders to read, have it say “building valid links.”
  • Periodically check for non-functioning or broken internal and external links. There are many free link checkers out there.
  • Keeping the number of links per page under 100.
  • Don't belong to a weblink or link ring. They don't work.

Meta Content

  • Include meta-tags and keywords relative to page content
  • Titles and headings should support and reiterate keywords, and be unique to each page.
  • Don’t leave out or duplicate the title, description or keywords as search engines rely on these to “read” unique content on your site.The title is one of the most important things that Google and other search engines utilize when evaluating page content.
  • Keep descriptions, title and keywords to the specs below as specified by major search engines:

Title: max 70 characters
Description: no more than 150 characters
Keywords: 10 words/phrases per page is a good amount

Newness
Search engines are increasingly considering the age the site and how long the domain is registered for. To help this, register your domain for as long as you can (to let search engines know you plan on sticking around) and get an aggressive SEO program in place.

On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO
On-Page SEO pertains to the actual content (keywords, meta information, to increase searches) in/on the website. Approximately 25% of visits are based on this content.

Off-Page SEO pertains to driving traffic to site through linking (via social media, RSS reeds, directories, etc). Approximately 75% of visits are based on (inbound) links.

Page Rank
Google ranks websites based on how “valuable” a website is. Google relies upon the nature of the web and its vast linking structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.

Having a higher page rank equates to higher probability of being at the top of searches. Links are the basis for page rank – those sites that are less known is because they aren’t as important and have few people linking to them. Those sites with thousands of inbound links, Google sees as being a worthwhile site.

Quantity of Inbound Links
Don’t fall prey to the link networks, or link webrings; nor ever pay anyone that promises to bring you links.

Repeat Visits (encourage)

  • Use at least one conversion form to get leads (keep the form short and sweet)
  • Increase hits back to your site by doing regular email/eNewsletter marketing campaigns
  • Add a "bookmark this page" to your site so customers can easily come back
  • Add an "email this page to a friend" link to your site
  • Your website address should be printed on all business and marketing items, and also your email signature
  • Start a blog - this helps in many ways: keeps the communication open between you and your visitors if you allow comments, search engines will index (and rank) your site higher when you keep uploading new content, shows potential customers that you care about their interests, offers more opportunity for search engines (and customers) to find you.
  • Email marketing with links back to articles continued at your site.
  • Keep a “running article” going on the site. For example, I have an article that is kept current with upcoming contests for designers and photographers. It’s a great way to get repeat visits.

 

Submit articles to directories and bookmarking sites
This ensures your website carries an extensive web presence outside of your own website. Furthermore it will allow more opportunities for prospects to find your company by adding greater visibility for your business.

Twitter, Technorati and the entire Social Media realm
Social media, Bookmarking, Article Submissions, Social Networking can and should be utilized to its maximum potential to market your business.

URL
Put keywords or phrases in the URL via the folder/directory structure or the HTML page name. Again, this offers more opportunities for search engines finding keywords.

Be sure to print your URL on ALL marketing materials you have (business cards, signage, brochures, etc), and in your email signature – MANY people use this link.

Valid or Quality Links
The more quality inbound links you have coming to your site, the higher your Google page rank will be.

Writing on forums, Q&A’s and other blogs
Many people will click on a forum signature in response to someone’s question. Be sure to take this opportunity when posting to well traveled forums, blogs and Q&A forums to have a “signature” that states your name and URL to your business.

XHTML
Utilizing such technologies as XHTML, CSS and PHP, ensures less page errors, faster loading times for your visitors and also eliminate the need for tables which can cause problems with search engines and accessibility.

XHTML limits the code size naturally and you end up with being simple to crawl for Google and other bots.

Yahoo, Google, Bing – Submit your URL
Though Google boasts the most searches per day, Yahoo! and Bing are also very well traveled. Regularly check your standing in popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) using keywords potential clients would be using to find your site.

Zap Spam - simple web guidelines from Google:

  • Don’t hide keywords on your pages or use too many in the metatags; search engines can see this as a potential spam website and won’t index it.
  • Don’t use hidden text or hidden links
  • Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains or domains with duplicate content
  • Don’t use doorway pages.