Simple Tips for Getting Started on Search Engine Optimization
You don’t have to be an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to have a search friendly website. It all starts with some basic items that can be easily overlooked.
Here are ten simple ways to make sure your site is properly indexed for search engines. If you built your own site, you can practice DIY SEO, or if you are not familiar with html, ask your web designer to help with these items.
1) Keywords in your URL – if you are building a new site or changing your web page address, make sure your URL includes one of your top keywords. For example, if you own a pet grooming business, PetSpaGrooming.com is much more search friendly than PetSpa.com.
2) Every page is different– whether you have 5 pages on your site or 500, search engines expect each page to be unique. Don’t reuse the same page title or description on every page, and don’t repeat the same content from page to page. Customize it.
3) Use descriptive page titles – your page titles, which are specified in the “head” section of your page using the <title> tag should start with a keyword, not your company name. Search engines place more value on the first words in the title. “Pet Grooming – Discriminating Dogs Choose PetSpa” is more search friendly than “PetSpa – Dogs love being groomed here.“
4) Keep titles short – page titles should not be more than 65-70 characters, including spaces. The title not only helps with SEO, it also appears at the top of the web browser window, on the page tab and in the bookmark description, so it can make a big difference in website usability.
5) Be mindful of your descriptions – the text in your page description, also set in the “head” section of the page, is often used by search engines as the short snippet of copy displayed in search results. Use this as an opportunity to briefly describe what can be found on the page. Descriptions should be under 150 characters in length.
6) Use images to your advantage – correctly formatted images can help users find your site. Google and other search engines index images and display them in search results. When including an image on your site, use “alt” text to describe the image. Include relevant keywords. Rather than saying “Drying Fido” try “Pet Drying Stations Complete the Grooming Process.”
7) Optimize each page for just 2-3 keywords – don’t try to include every one of your keywords on each page of your site. Write your copy to highlight just two or three keywords that are appropriate for that page. Incorporate the selected keywords or phrases (called “long tail” search terms) into the text as naturally as possible.
8) Keep web copy brief – most web pages only need 250 – 300 words of copy. If your pages have much more than that, you should re-examine your content. You might be trying to cover too much information on a single page. Focus on your keywords, and keep your text short and to the point. This will help the search engines identify your key message and properly index your pages.
9) Avoid Flash and large banner images – search engines prefer text. Opening your web site with a fancy Flash page or a giant banner image pushed your text to a lower position on the page. This tells the search engines that the content is not very important, and the page will not rank as highly on the search engine results page (SERP).
10) Use Headline Tags – Using the html tags < h1 > to identify headlines tells search engines what is really important on your site. These tags can be easily styled using CSS (cascading style sheets) so they will be visually appealing as well as SEO friendly. Put your keywords in the headlines, and search engines will quickly know what is the most relevant content on the page.
Joey Sargent, principal of BrandSprout Advisors [http://www.brandsproutadvisors.com/], is a strategic marketing consultant helping organizations maximize their market impact. Joey’s fresh perspectives and keen insights merge traditional marketing with digital strategies to build brand awareness, engage customers and increase market share.
Drawing on 20 years of global leadership experience in branding, strategy and communications, Joey merges traditional marketing with digital strategies for optimal growth and enhanced ROI. She has worked with companies ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 500, including UPS, PGI and BellSouth (now AT&T).
A frequent speaker, Joey has presented from Vancouver to Barcelona. She has been quoted by Fox Business, CMO.com, Investors.com, Information Week and Social Media Today. Joey holds an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Joey blogs at Fresh Sprouts [http://www.fresh-sprouts.com/].