When I first began building websites 11 years ago, I was simply concentrating on getting all the graphical elements to lay out like they were supposed to. I would make sure everything worked, the navigation was seamless and the client was happy with their finished web presence. Then when all was said and done, I would have clients calling and asking why they couldn’t find themselves when doing an Internet search. That’s when I knew I had to learn Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO. I read everything I could find on meta tags and links and search engine friendly design. Granted things change rapidly and though I’ve achieved 99% first page rankings for all my SEO clients, I have to keep up on what the Search Engines have decided is most important in deciding how your website will be ranked. Below are just a few of the basics I’ve learned along the way.
Incorporate SEO from the start
I always offer and encourage my clients to purchase the search engine optimization package before I begin creating and building their websites. They have forked out a decent amount of money to build a beautiful, user-friendly website and the extra $960 seams like a lot, so often times they opt out of having the SEO performed on their sites. They are probably thinking maybe the site will get found anyway. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. I build websites to be search engine friendly to begin with and whoever you choose to build your website should be willing to make sure all the proper meta tags are included no matter what. That doesn’t make up for doing the competitor research and keyword analysis and rewriting the content for the homepage. Your website is beautiful, but if you haven’t optimized for the Search Engines who’s going to see it?
Limit your KEYWORDS/KEYPHRASES
Don’t overdue your keywords/keyphrases. Putting 20 keywords into your METAs and content is overkill. Focus on maybe 5 keywords/phrases for your niche, purchase a “WordTracker” account to find out how the keywords score in real time searches. You might be surprised to learn that ‘green striped widgets’ isn’t being sought after as often as you think.
RARELY will anyone do a search for “YOUR COMPANY”
You won’t get found this way, and I know you’re going to search for your company name on the web. However, your company needs to be found for the services it provides not the name of your company.
SPEED is a factor
Optimization of images into smaller file sizes is playing a role into the ranking of your website. Keeping file sizes down to a minimum is a strategic move in getting your site ranked.
Don’t pay someone who GUARANTEES you #1 rankings or charges you exorbitant fees.
These are scams flat out. No SEO can guarantee you will be ranked number one. They don’t have an ‘IN’ with Google or Yahoo to make such claims. Even though I have a 100% success rate for first page rankings; I never guarantee this result to my tentative SEO clients, I can’t morally do this. Algorithms the SE’s use to determine rankings change all the time. I have to constantly check rankings for my clients to see where they are at-and they can shift from day to day. Don’t buy into these scams and get ripped off. Ask questions and be informed.Recently a colleague rescued a company who was paying $20,000 a year for SEO. 20-t-h-o-u-s-a-n-d dollars! I could not believe that. Now if you decided to do an AdWords campaign with Google (which I highly recommend unless you intend to acquire high quality link backs from other sites [notice I said HIGH QUALITY]) you could spend quite a bit bidding for your clicks. An SEO who charges a few thousand a month to analyze our rankings, submit a report and manage your AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaign is reprehensible. Run away, fast.
The bottom line: EDUCATE YOURSELF
There is a lot of good information out there to help you know the basics of what makes a good SEO and what you can do to ensure you get the most for your money.
published March 19, 2008, updated August 19, 2012