Building an attractive and even beautiful website is the goal of most website designers. In the process, sometimes the effectiveness of the website decreases. We need to remember that our goal is not only to have a beautiful website that will make people want to stay and explore and enjoy, but also a website that will help the engines in determining what our website is about or its relevance.
Udi Manber, Google’s vice president of overseeing search quality, answered a question about web page content evolving to become more search engine friendly by explaining, “Obviously not enough. I wish people would put more effort into thinking about how other people would find it and placing keywords that right into their yard.” Popular Mechanics – April 16, 2008
Search engine optimization or SEO is arguably the most important way to drive targeted traffic to your website as it leads to increased search engine placement. Optimizing the benefits of a well-designed website will result in more traffic coming to the website thereby generating revenue for the company that publishes the website.
However, keeping this fact in mind, optimizing your website may cost you thousands of dollars if you are not an expert in this field. Good search engine optimization that leads to increased search engine placement will, on the other hand, give you a much higher return on the investment of time or money you put into it.
My goal in this article is to provide you with the basics of search engine optimization so that you can understand them and incorporate them to help you complete your task. This will help you increase your relevance and search engine rankings for the best results through proven search engine optimization techniques.
What are the main mistakes in the design?
First it is important to remember that search engines are engines and they read words not see pictures or images. The most common mistakes from a search engine optimization point of view are:
Creating websites entirely in Flash(TM)
Images without alt tags
Minimal or no meta title or title tag
Flash(TM) to search engines is like an invisible image even though Flash(TM) can catch the gimmicks of viewers, it will not help search engines to know about your website. While the display text as part of my Flash(TM) is rich in keywords and information, it will disappear completely to search engines and you won’t be noticed. Flash(TM) and images can be used to enhance a website but the site must have text to build relevance for search engines.
In the same sense, images are also invisible, but we can include alt tags that will give search engines an idea of what viewers will see. Actually alt tags can be very helpful because search engines will place more emphasis on the text in the alt tag. Don’t go overboard with keyword phrases in alt tags but use some to help out if necessary.
The title tag which will also be discussed later is an important place to tell search engines what your web page is about.
Where do we start?
Why is search engine optimization (SEO) so important? SEO is important because it will make your website relevant to your keywords during the search engine ranking process and will lead to increased search engine rankings. This is the reason why some businesses hire SEO companies to perform this task.
You can get information about low cost related services anywhere on the internet. However, few actually show you how to put together an inexpensive plan for better search engine placement. Some companies will even use ancient techniques that can slow down the process. Good search engine optimization will help you to start improving your website’s search engine ranking and start driving traffic to it in a matter of days or weeks with an expensive process.
Search engine optimization starts optimally on your website, when you plan and build it. If it’s not done at first you’re not too late, you can do it after you create it and go back and revise it to increase exposure to search engines and still lead to better search engine placement. It consists of the following elements which are referred to as “in-place optimization”.
Keyword Research – choose the primary and secondary keywords that you will use on your website or webpage
Applying keywords naturally becomes an important element in the header and body of the website.
Research and Use of Keywords
Let’s start with keyword research first. Why is keyword research important? Keyword research helps us find keywords that connect us to our targeted audience. They are words that we like to use on our websites in various ways to build relevance on our web pages so that when search engines find our website and view/crawl our pages, they will then index us for those keywords.
After that happens, then when these keywords are typed into search engines by potential customers, search engines will then display our site in search results, that’s how they tie us to our target audience.
Ideally you would use a reverse search tool that would allow you to type in words that you think are keywords that people will search for and which will tell you how many times those keywords were searched over a certain period of time. Depending on the tools you use and the databases and search engines they access for their search results, you will get different numbers in your reverse search results.
Your search engine optimization professional will know and have access to these tools and which ones are appropriate for a particular use. These tools can significantly speed up the on-site optimization process leading to faster search engine placement improvements.
One tool you can use for manual research is Keyword Discovery’s Free Search Term Suggestion Tool. This will limit your results to 100 keywords for any given search. Another manual search tool is. These two manual reverse search tools will allow you to find the keywords that people type into search engines and the number of times they are searched. Remember keywords are how we connect with our target audience.
How I Use My Keywords Once we identify keywords, we next need to know where and how to use them for better search engine placement. The first and arguably the most important place to use our keywords is the title tag for your website. The title tag appears in the page header and is the first opportunity we have to tell search engines what our page is about.
The title tag should be 60 – 80 characters long and include one or two of the most important and/or relevant keywords for the page and possibly your website’s domain name, especially if your domain name includes those keywords. The title tag information appears in the blue header bar at the top of the window and is also used as the title of your listing when your website is displayed in natural or organic search results.
The meta description should be around 2 – 3 sentences or up to about 200 characters explaining to customers and search engines what the web page is about. In natural or organic search engine results, this description will be the first choice for the text that search engines display under the title. This description does not appear on the website pages when the website is displayed to visitors but can be read by search engines and is used primarily in search results.
The third meta tag is the keyword meta tag which is also not shown to website visitors. The keyword meta tag was the cornerstone of the early methods of search engine optimization, but because it was abused by website developers, it is rarely used by search engines.
We still use the keyword meta tag, but most search engines ignore it due to previous violations. Some search engines may still evaluate it and you never know when the search engines start using it again. The Keyword meta tag is simply a list of up to 12 keyword phrases separated by commas.
The example below does not include angle brackets because this article is written in HTML but angle brackets are less than and greater than sign.
“meta content=”Basic search engine optimization concepts are presented to provide business owners and website developers with an understanding of good SEO techniques…” name=”description” /” is enclosed in square brackets.
“meta content=”keyword phrase 1, keyword phrase 2, keyword phrase 3,…” name=”keywords” /” enclosed in square brackets
Your keywords used in the title, description and keyword tags now need to be used on the page to validate to the search engines that your page is actually about what you told the search engines that your page is relevant. If the search engine doesn’t see any keywords on your page, then it can only assume that your page is irrelevant to the words you used in the title, description and keyword tags in the header area of the website.
Now that we know that we need text on the page, how can we use that text to help emphasize the relevance of the keywords on the page? Mechanisms such as header tags for headings that use keywords will place more emphasis on keywords.
Hyperlinks where the anchor text is the keyword phrase will add relevance to the keyword phrase and because the anchor text and related hyperlink references are indexed by search engines, using the keyword phrase as anchor text both on website and off site marketing will increase your rankings for that keyword phrase.
Bold and italics also draw attention to keywords for search engines. Each page should have sufficient text on it to allow the page to show the relevance of the keywords displayed in the page header to search engines, if true search engine optimization is to be achieved.
Let’s take a look at some of the other tags mentioned in the previous paragraph. Header tags alert search engines to more important text on a page, such as the title on a newspaper page, not to the reader. A header tag is a tag that contains an “H” and a number between 1 and 7. The lower the number, the larger the text and the more important it is to search engines. H1 tags can be formatted using font tags to control size or .css files to control formatting.
Hyperlinks consist of at least two components. The first component is the link destination represented by the term “href” which refers to the hyperlink reference and the anchor text located between the start and end anchor tags. An anchor tag is “a” in angle brackets and ends with “/a” in angle brackets. The start tag also includes a destination reference. Remember that you can use a keyword phrase in place of the word home to designate your home page. That keyword phrase will become a link and will help build the relevance of your website to that keyword phrase.
When we use these structures in combination naturally, we can then help search engines to know about our pages and also create pages that work for users.
To optimize your website well for search engines, you should use unique meta tags on every page on your website. Keywords should be used in:
Title tags – top three
Header tag – big three
Opening paragraph – about 4% density
Alt tag all images and use keywords on about 3 images per page
Links/anchor text or hyperlinks – big three
Page content – about 4% density (visible text)
Closing paragraph – about 4% density
They should be used in such a way that they feel natural in the yard. If the page feels awkward, then find a way to rewrite the information on the page and make sure you don’t hit keywords too often. This in combination with other activities to build your page rank is the best way to get your page listed on page one of search engines.
This strategy is what we call on-page optimization. Each page needs to have its own unique page optimization for the content on that page. Don’t make the mistake of using the same title, description, and keyword meta tags for every page on your site.
Using this strategy in conjunction with your website design will greatly improve your search engine placement.