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What is SEO and 4 Ways You Can Improve Your Website.
SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the biggest buzzwords thrown around in Internet marketing conversations, and we’ve found it to be a topic that is confusing at best to most business owners. We recently presented a seminar about SEO basics for members of Network Now where we de-mystified it to help business owners (in this case, the audience happened to be almost all women business owners) understand what it is, how improved rankings can help their business, and easy steps they can take on their own to improve where their business appears in search engines.
What is SEO?
In the simplest form, search engine optimization is the process of naturally improving the visibility of your website. Note that we said it was a process, not a project. SEO is not a project that has a defined start and end time; it’s a process because it needs to be an ongoing effort to be successful. The logic used by search engines to determine the order in which pages appear changes frequently and your site needs to be adapting and evolving with those changes. The only catch is that the search engines never really tell you what their logic is to page ranking or what you are doing right or wrong.
The one thing that most industry experts agree on is that it’s all about content. Relevant, frequent, and quality content is absolutely essential to improving or maintaining your ranking. Before you go off and devise your content strategy to keeping your site fresh, let’s cover a few basics to make sure that your great content gets found.
4 Things to Check on Your Website
Content is great, but if the computers robots that are reading your page and determining where you fit in search engine results can’t understand your page, they aren’t going to put you very high in the list. Here are 4 things to check on your site today to make sure that it’s understandable to the robots:
Your page title is what appears either on the page tab (in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox) or at the top of your screen (in Internet Explorer). Your page titles should be unique to each page and specifically describe the content on that page. If all of your page titles are just your company name with no reference to what is on the page, you are confusing the robots. Think about how confused you would be if you picked up a newspaper, and every article was titled “Name of Newspaper.” How long before you stop reading it because you can’t find what you want? Keep your page titles to 70 characters or less, and make sure they accurately describe the content on each page.
Page meta descriptions
Your meta description is not actually seen on your page, but it could be seen as the brief text that appears in your listing on a search engine. Make sure the description on each page is accurate and in the form of sentences that contain your key words. This is not the place to stuff a lot of irrelevant words in an attempt to trick the search engines. Even if the trick worked and got you to the top of the listing, how likely is a human to click on a listing that just has a bunch of random words in the text that appears? Right.
Whether your site contains stock images or images of your work, it’s important to label them appropriately because the robots can’t see images. When a robot comes across an image, it just looks like an empty box, unless you have described the images behind-the-scenes. When you are uploading an image to be used in your site, make the file name meaningful (i.e. hand-knit-red-sweater,jpg, not image.jpg), use the ALT tag to enter a description of the picture (i.e. Hand-knit red sweater with black buttons. Available in women’s sizes small, medium, and large.), and make sure you are storing all of your images for the site in one images folder. These 3 steps (bonus – you got a 3-for1 in this section!) will help the robots decipher the images instead of just skipping over them.
This one is an easy one. It is believed that longer domain registrations will score you some extra points with the robots. It’s not like registering your domain for 5 or 10 years is going to rocket you to the top of search results, but every little bit helps and this one is an easy one. If you are going to be renewing each year, why not go for a multi-year and grab the bonus point or two it might earn you.
(We're going to let you in on a little secret here - big news about domain names is coming out this weekend! Make sure to watch those Super Bowl commercials!)
Remember, SEO is a process.
Schedule time in your calendar on a regular basis to review your site, develop new content, and make sure you are doing the right things that will help get you found. It doesn’t happen overnight, even though a lot of gimmicks seem to promise that. A consistent effort spent on developing relevant content and making sure the behind-the-scenes of your site are all in order will deliver more results in both the short and long-term than any get-rich-quick scheme out there. If improving your SEO is important to your business, invest the time to do it right and don’t short-change the process.
What other questions about SEO do you have?