A) What is Search Engine Optimization?
Optimization is the process of improving the volume of traffic to a web site delivered by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and MSN).
Google, MSN, Bing, and Yahoo dominate, with a combined market share of over 90% for search engines. Google dominates, being used for over 70% of internet searches.
The higher your website ranks on a search engine, the more searchers will visit your site. The goal of optimizing is to make your site more visible to the search engines and climb the rankings.
Once your site is ‘live’ you may start receiving email or phone calls from “SEO” or marketing firms making attractive promises to get your site to page 1 of Google in search results for your business. BE WARY of this type of marketing. Much of this is questionable, some of it is scams. You don’t really have to pay extortionate monthly fees to search engine experts. There are many simple SEO techniques you can do yourself that will get you a far better result in the long term.
Avoid services charging a monthly subscription for search engine submission. We have seen clients paying hundreds of dollars for unnecessary “search engine submission” services. You won’t need this once your site has been submitted to Google, and has Google Analytics installed on the site.
Most good search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, will regularly visit your site and “cache” (store) your files. Once your website is listed, it will remain listed unless you violate any of the search engine’s policies.
It is important to remember that your site’s ranking will vary from day to day. We have seen a site, ranking in the top 10 Google results, suddenly drop down to a lower ranking It moved back into the top 10 rankings within a few weeks.
B) How to optimize your website (to improve your search engine ranking)
1) Use minimal graphics, ideally a maximum of 1-2 per page.
Search engines read text, not graphics, so the best way to achieve ranking for your search terms is to limit the graphics included on each web page, and include relevant good content containing keywords for your product or industry.
Search engines read the words (text) on your web pages – they are looking for the authority on a given subject. The more that your can show on your website that you are knowledgeable and reputable about your subject matter, the better your chances of ranking highly.
2) Do not use flash imagery.
Search engines (like Google) cannot read text that you place in a ‘flash’ file, so it can hinder your ranking. Graphics are distracting to visitors and placing only one or two photos or graphics on a web page makes your content more appealing to read.
3) Do not “stuff” your pages with your keywords.
If you overload your content with your keywords, the search engines may penalize you for having your keyword phrases. The keywords should not make up more than 8% of your content.
4) Include keyword terms in the design in 8 places:
Submitting your website to the major search engines is extremely important.
However, your site will not rank at all if it is not built to incorporate keyword phrases in the following 8 areas:
4.1) Your domain name (URL)
Ideally, your website domain name should contain keywords that you want your website to be found with.
For instance, you may want to be found by Google as a Financial Advisor in Burnaby, BC. Instead of using your personal or company name, you will be more likely to rank in Google searches by using those keywords in your domain name. Example: FinancialAdvisorBurnabyBC.ca
4.2) Page Titles
Each page of your website should have a page title containing relevant key words. Those keywords should pertain to the content on the web page.
4.3) Page Description
Your website “description” is important, and should be between 14-26 words in length. This descriptive ‘meta tag’ belongs in the header section of your html code. This is the description that search engines will display in their search results.
4.4) Put keyword phrases first as text on the page, headers, paragraphs.
Use a “header tag” (H1, H2 tags) for primary keyword phrases on a page or for title tags on links. A title tag is the words that you see if you scroll your mouse over a certain links possessing a title tag. You should only place a title tag containing your keywords on just one or two links. If you include more than this, you could be penalized by Google for “keyword stuffing”.
For example, the title tag is a property of a hyperlink: title=”Learn about how a Financial Planner can help you in Vancouver BC Canada”>How Can a Financial Planner Help Me?
4.5) Use bold, underlined text and link keyword phrases within your site to other pages.
4.6) Use keywords in ALT (image title) tags.
4.7) Include keyword phrases in your page content.
You should be careful that the keywords make up no more than 5% of your total words. If you use too high a density, your site can be penalized for what is called “keyword stuffing.” It is recommended to have between 300-500 words of content on each page.
4.8) Put keywords in meta tags.
Keyword meta tags are included within the header section of your html code. This is where keywords relevant to page content should be inserted. Use no more than seven strong keywords per page. Google does not pay attention to these meta tags but some other search engines will recognize them.
5) What you can do to help your website gain ranking
5.1) Register your website domain name for 5 to 10 years
Many website owners register their website domain name for only one year and then renewal their registration annually. Registering your domain name for 5 to 10 years can help your ranking. Search engines give your website extra points for having a domain that is registered for a longer period of time. What they see is that your website – domain name is going to be around for a while.
5.2) Increase traffic to your website