Search engine optimization, or SEO, is something that a lot of people ask us about. One thing that I usually tell clients is that there are no “optimize” buttons that immediately improve your site’s rankings in the major search engines. Nor is SEO something that you do just once and then forget about. It’s an ongoing process that ultimately makes for a better online experience for your website visitors.
Here are a few tips that may help you:
1. Create a great website.
There are no tricks to search engine optimization. Maybe there were tricks back in 1997 but search engines now are really just looking for good quality websites devoted to specific subject matter. Be mindful of your website’s content. Is it useful and informative? Is your content readable and easy to find? Always try to think from your customer’s or site visitor’s perspective.
2. Be realistic and patient.
Search engine optimization is a continual process that requires time and energy devoted to making your site as useful and relavent to your audience for your particular services. You won’t see immediate results but the long term benefits are very worthwhile. Results often take months to see, especially if you are new to doing business online or a relatively small company. You have to be realistic in your expectations. You should not focus on overly general terms like “doctor” because the competition for that word will be too tough. You should, however, focus on more specific terms like “philadelphia gastroenterologist”.
3. Remove “barriers” that inhibit the crawling of your site.
Having session IDs or too many variables in your website’s URLs can affect the ability of the search engine’s to properly crawl and index your site. Also, an incorrect robots.txt file, confusing navigation structure or developing in all flash or all graphics can limit how a search engine accesses your content.
4. Pay attention to your page titles, meta descriptions and urls.
The page title is very important in SEO. Make sure that your page title contains 2 or 3 words that you hope to attract via search engine searches. The description, though not that important for the search engine rankings, will most likely appear under your title in the search listings. Be sure to write a descriptive sentence that captures the essence of what’s on the page. For the urls, it’s really good to have the main keywords in the url and filename… http://www.yourdomain.com/philadelphia-gastroenterologist/. Use hyphens instead of underscores and limit the hyphens to no more than 3 in the url (any more and you may be looked at as spamming your url).
5. Research your keywords at the start of your website project
Using such tools like WordTracker or Google AdWords, you can see which keywords are being used for specific subjects. Pay attention to the volume of one search phrase versus another. You may find that your audience uses words that you haven’t thought of regarding your business.
6. Use keywords as anchor text in your internal links.
Instead of using “click here” for all of your internal links put the link on a relevant keyword. For example, if you are linking to your site’s page about “email marketing” put the link on that phrase. It will tell the search engine spider what the linked-to page is about.
7. Increase your exposure wherever possible.
One great way to create fresh, relevant content is with a blog. Put your blog on your domain at http://www.yourdomain.com/blog and write useful articles about your expertise. Allow your blog’s readers to comment on your articles too. It generates a nice interactive community atmosphere and will most likely add more targeted keywords to your page. You can also think about providing content to other sites like yahoo answers on subject matter related to your site.
8. Use social media marketing.
This is still a new marketing medium which means that it can easily be abused. Sites like Twitter are great for creating links back to your website. Using their API tool, you can set up automatic links on your business’ Twitter page whenever you add new content to your site. Unless you really know your audience wants it, I would never recommend that a business make “random thought” tweets on the company Twitter page. Those are the comments like “I’m sitting on the couch watching baseball.” Maybe your company’s followers like that sort of thing but I usually don’t recommend it for businesses. You can also set up accounts with Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others. You’d be surprised on how social media marketing can be used to increase targeted traffic to your site thus improving your SEO efforts.
9. Create a site map page.
While some of your readers will never visit this page, and others may prefer it over your default navigation, a site map page is most suited for the search engines. It creates a one-stop repository for your entire site. If you have a large site, however, limit the number of links per site map page to about 70 or so per page. Larger sites will just utilize multiple site map pages.
10. Have a baseline view of your website prior to your SEO efforts.
It’s best to know where you are starting from prior to making any significant changes to your website’s content or structure. Find out how your targeted keywords list your site in the major search engines like google, yahoo, aol, etc.
11. Create Google and Yahoo Site Map files.
Not to be confused with a visible site map page on your site, site map files are usually text or xml-based files that are used by google and yahoo to better index your site.
12. Don’t fall for SEO spam.
You will probably receive emails at some point that offer you “submission to over 1000 search engines and directories” and “2000 quality links for $60” or something along those lines. Those tactics are unnecessary and considered to be SEO spam by the major search engines.
These are by no means the only things to consider with search engine optimization but they are a great place to start. Hire an honest marketing company to help you with your SEO needs. Just remember that no reputable SEO company can guarantee a number one ranking on any search engine for quality keywords and search phrases. A reputable company you hire will only follow best practices for SEO and not utilize any tactics that may be considered spam and potentially damage your online reputation. SEO work is a continual process and should always focus on improving your site content over time and create an overall better user experience. GKB Solutions will be happy to help you with your SEO needs.