Nov 11, 2010

A Common Sense Approach to SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a popular topic among website owners. Everyone wants to have the #1 spot in search engines, but it’s hard to know what advice to follow.

Sometimes reading SEO tips and tricks can cause more harm than good. Following bad advice can be dangerous and can potentially get your website blacklisted by search engines.

Google’s algorithm for determining how to rank websites in their search results may be a secret, but the fundamental concept behind it is not. Google wants to provide quality content that matches what users are searching for. The best way to optimize your website for search engines is to focus on building the best website possible for your website visitors. If you are able to accomplish this, your website will already be optimized for search engines!

Below are some basic tips to help you build a better website that customers and search engines will both love.

Write Useful and Relevant Content

Concentrate on building your website with quality content. Think about what information your customers would find useful, and take the time to write copy for your website that is informative, or helpful, or even just interesting.

It’s also important to properly describe your business and what you do.¬†For example, if you are a dentist in Denver, Colorado, make sure you describe that you are a “Denver Dentist” on your website. Clearly explaining the topics in your website helps visitors (and search engines) see right away what your website is about, and whether it will have the information they are looking for.

Well-written headlines will also help your visitors scan your webpage to see what each section of text is about. In addition, make sure that your text links are descriptive, so visitors know what information they’ll see once they click on the link. For example, instead of a link that says “Click Here,” try describing what the visitor will find on that page (like, “View our educational board games”).

It’s important to not stuff your content with keywords in an attempt to rank better in search engine results. After all, it’s your website visitors that will become your customers, not search engines. Your text should be easy to read and understand.

Create Content Your Visitors Will Want to Share

If your website has good information, people will want to share it! Whether it’s through blogs, email, forums, or social media sites like Facebook or Twitter; having relevant links will help build your website’s reputation as a place that provides quality content.

When you write content for your website or blog, ask yourself, “Would you link to this page?” If the answer is no, then your website visitors may not find it useful either.

Write Descriptive Title Tags and Description Tags

There are a lot of different tags for meta information, but we are going to concentrate on the most important two: the Page Title and the Meta Description.

horsetrailers-pagetitle

The Page Title is the title of your page. It should be a short phrase that describes what information is found on that webpage. The page title will show up in many places:

  • In the browser title bar (or tab)
  • As the title of the page when it’s added to your bookmarks/favorites
  • As a link in search engine results

Writing a descriptive title is important, because it lets visitors know that your website has the information they are looking for. Every page of your website should have a unique title.¬†Using only your business name or “Untitled” as the Page Title on every page of your website does not describe the page content, and doesn’t tell your visitors (or search engines) what information to expect.

horsetrailers-serp

The Page Description is a short summary of your webpage. This often displays in search engine results underneath your Page Title. Because of this, it’s important to write a description that will entice your visitors to visit your website. Your description should be only one or two sentences that quickly describes what your webpage is about, and why they should click on your link.

For more information about writing Titles and Descriptions, check out our Improve Your Website in 5 Steps: Titles, Descriptions, and Headers article.

Build Your Website For Your Visitors

Another important aspect of a high-quality website is how the site is built. A well-organized website will make it easier for your visitors to browse your webpages to find the content they need. Here are a few things you can do to make the browsing experience easier for your visitors:

  • Order your website menu in a logical way that is organized and easy for your website visitors to navigate.
  • Make sure that the text on your website is real text (text that you can highlight) instead of an image of text. This allows users to copy and paste your text or enlarge the font-size (or use their browser’s Zoom tool) and also lets search engines read the text on your website.
  • Include a sitemap on your website. A sitemap is kind of a “table of contents,” that lists out all of the pages on your website. We recommend having an HTML sitemap that visitors can view and also an XML sitemap that you can submit to search engines. (Read more at Improve Your Website in 5 Steps: XML Sitemap)
  • Include a 404 page on your website. That way, if a visitor clicks on a broken link, they will still have access your website menu.

By building a website with your website visitors in mind, you’ll be creating a website that will be useful to them, and in turn, search engines will want to include your pages in their search results. It’s a win-win!

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