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SEO - Search Engine Optimization

What's this SEO thing I keep hearing about and do I really need it?

Here is a brief overview to help you to learn and decide.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

If you want to improve the number of people that find your website from searching on Google, Bing, etc., your site needs to be optimized.

To be properly indexed and ranked on these search engines requires additional steps and processes beyond what you can see when looking at a web page.

When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of misconceptions. Here we will try to clarify things without a lot of technno talk.

You have to consider that SEO is not one single thing, it's the sum result of lots of influencing factors.

Contrary to what some SEO companies will have you believe, no one knows for sure how the major search engines actually work. The algorithms they use are closely guarded secrets and organic - they change regularly. To this end, anyone who says they know how to 'guarantee you are number one on Google' is optimistic at best.

What we do know is that there are a number of things we can do to your website to ensure it performs better on the search engines.

Below are some key factors that we focus on when optimizing a website for search engine results. As you read, keep this thought in mind: "SEO is a Journey, not a Destination". It requires continual work to get consistent and increasing results.

Website Content

Yes, content is king! Although there is a keyword tag available to use within the code of the site, Google pulls keywords from your sites content.

The text used on the page will be scanned by the search engine spider and the 'keyword count' recorded for each page - so if you have prominent use of the words (or phrases) such as 'lawn care' they will be noted as being a key word for your site. Also the use of bold, italics, or links from these words serves as an indicator that this word is key to what the page is about.

There is often a trade off between clean simple design and SEO. For your site to do well in search engine results, there has to be plenty of content to pull from. The more helpful and relevant to your product or service the content is, the better. Many SEO tools that we use provide feedback on "text to code" ratio. The more actual content text that there is within the code of a page, the better as that indicates a better chance that useful information is found there.

Optimization Of The Code

There are some key tags within the code of the website that needs to be completed correctly to help your site be suitably indexed by the search engine crawlers.

  • Page titles - this is used to explain what the web page is about.
  • Meta tags - The keyword tag is not as important as it once were because amateur web developers commonly abuse it, but the keywords for the page can be listed here. An important meta tag however is the description. This is what shows up in the search engine result and can make the difference between somebody just seeing you in a search result and clicking to visit your website.
  • Header tags, h1, h3, h3 - the search engines like to see a well formatted web page that is coded a bit like a newspaper page - so you have the main headings at the top of the page (the h1 tag is the header 1) and then the sub headings underneath (h3, h3), followed by the relevant content. It is important that the keyword(s) you have identified for each page are used in these header tags.
  • Links - all links should have the title completed which explains where the link is heading.
  • Images - all images used in the website should have their alternative attributes set which is simply a text description of what the image is about.

Back Links

The number of links from other websites to your website is one of the single most important things influencing your position on the search engines.

The PR refers to the Google Page Rank and the 'Back Links' is the number of links from other websites to yours (Google is reported to only consider links with a page rank of 4+) It is not simply a case of getting as many links to your site as possible - there are other influencing factors on these links that need to be considered as well:

  • The topic of the website / web page that is linking to you
  • The text used in the link
  • The page rank or popularity of the linking page
  • Where the page links to on your site
  • How many links are already on the page that links to you

Although there are "link farm" sites out there that claim to provide strategic back links to your site, this is something that google is constantly designing it's sytem to detect and prevent. For good long term results your SEO needs to evolve and grow organically from real content and legitimate back links.

Other Factors

There are a number of other factors that will influence how well your website performs on the search engines. The algorithms used are complicated enough to factor in things like:

  • The age of the website - when was it first registered?
  • How long it is registered for: 1year, 2years or 10 years?
  • The Keywords used in the domain name
  • Keywords used in page names and folders
  • Are the URL'S clean?

EVERYONE wants to be at the top of the results for their service or product. The single most important thing to remember is that it does not happen overnight!

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Optimize the content and code so that the site can be properly indexed on Google an Bing.
  2. Develop backlinks within well ranking sites that have content related to yours.
  3. HAVE PATIENCE! Based on the factors mentioned, the time can vary from a few weeks to a few months before you see a difference in where you show up in search results.

DON'T JUDGE YOUR RESULTS BY "GOOGLING" YOUR KEYWORDS! Google search results are personalized to each computer and user so they may be different on different computers. Google takes information from your browser history, cookies, etc. to personalize the best result. So two different computers can have different results.

The best tool to use to study what is happening in terms of people finding your website through Google is Google Analytics.
We can set this up for you as part of the SEO package for your site.

This is only a brief overview of the major elements of SEO. Please contact us at His Image Design to futher discuss not only the design but the SEO for your website.