Search Engine Optimization has become a multi-million
dollar industry so you may have seen the SPAM emails guaranteeing
you top search results. It’s not uncommon to find established
web designers trying to climb on the bandwagon and becoming
experts on the subject, because they finally realize that’s
what their clients need. What good is an expensive website
if there’s nobody finding it online?
There are nearly as many experts as there
are different theories about what works. Most of those different
theories have been considered correct at one time or another.
The landscape of the Search Engine world is constantly changing,
and many people are spending countless hours trying to figure
out what’s working and what’s not in any given month. Doing
this is called “chasing the search engine algorithms”.These
“algorithm chasers” have seen some wild successes and miserable
failures. Sites can be ranked ranked in the top 10 one month,
and drop completely out of sight the next month, only to return
buried in the middle of the pack. There are still unscrupulous
“web optimizers” operating who try to literally “spam” the
search engines. They try and fool the search engine into bringing
up certain pages that may not even be related to what the
user was actually searching for. Search Engines are
getting a lot smarter and the spammers are losing. Garbage
search results are almost a thing of the past and things aren't
nearly as easy for the cheaters as they once were.
It is very important to remember there is
no quick fix. The Search Engines give very clear guidelines
and if you or your search engineering company try to bypass
them, the Search Engines will "blackball" (ban)
your domain name. If you have tried these tactics in the past,
this could be why your website is not getting a ranking.
Through all these changes in the search engines,
one thing has remained constant, and should not come as a
surprise to anyone. That is that a good foundation for your
website is the key to achieving successful results search
It is my hope that by giving you the foundation
below, you can get an idea of how your website should be designed
to be more easily found in the search engines. Whether you’
have designed your site yourself, or you’ have hired an outside
firm, this information will be helpful. Armed with these facts,
you can better critique your own site, or pass this information
along to your staff or web designer. If you check your
own site, you might be surprised at what you’ll find was done
by your designer.
Bringing up your own website in Internet
Explorer, and then going to View > Source will allow you
to see the HTML or code that your site was written in. That
code is cryptic, but not impossible to read. HTML is made
up of “Tags” and of text. Listed below are the top ten most
important (in my opinion) issues to consider when designing
your website with respect to your “search engine friendliness”.
Each of the following foundation elements
should apply not just to your index page, but to each individual
Inbound links from relevant sites + Informative Content =
On Page Optimisation
The title tag is what displays in the top
blue band of Internet Explorer, and what the first line of
the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) will show when your
site is found. Your title tag of your website should
be easy to read and designed to bring in traffic. Your main
keyword phrase should be used toward the beginning of the
Description Meta Tag
The description tag is the paragraph that
people will see when your page comes up in the search results.
The title tag is the headline, and this is the paragraph below
Your description tag should be captivating
and designed to attract business. It should be easy to read,
and compel the reader to act right now and follow your link.
Without a description tag, search engines will frequently
display the first text on your page. Is yours appropriate
as a description of the page?
Keywords Meta Tag
The importance of Meta keyword tags fluctuates
from month to month among different search engines. Avoid
"stuffing" your keyword metatags with too many keywords.
Just use relevant tags that apply directly to the content
of that particular page, and don’t overdo it.
The small yellow box that comes up when your
mouse cursor is placed over an image is called the ALT tag.
Every relevant image should have an alt tag with your key
words or phrases mentioned in the tag. For example, the ALT
description might be "Plumber Barrow company logo"
instead of "companynamelogo.jpg".
The text of each page is given more weight
by the search engines if you make use of header tags and then
use descriptive body text below those headers. Bullet points
work well too. It is not enough to merely BOLD or enlarge
your text headlines.
Search engine spiders cannot follow image
links. In addition to having image links or buttons on your
web pages, you should have text links at the bottom or elsewhere.
The text that the user sees when looking at the link is called
the "link text". A link that displays "products"
does not carry as much weight to the search engines as a link
called "central heating radiators". Link text is
very important, and is actually one of the most frequently
overlooked aspects of web design.
Using a site map not only makes it easy for
your users to see the entire structure of your website, but
it also makes it easier for the search engines to “spider”
your site. When the search engine spiders come to visit, they
will follow all of the text links from your main index page.
If one of those links is to a site map, then the spiders will
go right to the Sitemap, and consequently visit every page
you have text linked to from that site map. On the site
map page, try to have a sentence or two describing each page,
and not just a page of links.
Relevant Inbound Links
By relevant, I mean similar industry or subject
related sites. Right now, no single strategy can get your
site ranked higher faster than being linked to by dozens of
other relevant Websites It used to be that the quantity of
incoming links mattered most, but today it's much better to
have three highly relevant links to you from other popular
related Websites than 30 links from unrelated low ranked
Not to be forgotten of course, is the actual
content of your Web Pages It must be relevant helpful information
that people want to read. These days, each Web Page should
be laser focused on one specific product or subject, in order
to rank highly for that search phrase. The days of writing
one Web Page to appeal to dozens of search terms are long
Ideally, each page should have between 400
to 650 words on it. Too few, and the search engines won't
consider it to be relevant enough. Too many words and the
search engine spiders may have a hard time determining the
actual subject or focus of the page. Concentrate on writing
quality pages that actually appeal to the human reader. Write
pages that provide the reader with exactly what they are looking
for; that is, information about the exact search phrase they
With all of this information, it's tempting
to think that you can stuff 100 keywords into your title,
or create a page with the key phrase being used 100 times
in headers, text links, ALT tags, bullet points etc. but that
will not help you. This is a another form of spamming, the
Search Engines will penalise you, and your website will be
banned from certain search engines.
As search engine robots continue to utilise
better types of AI (Artificial Intelligence) they will in
effect, get smarter. They are already starting to look for
things the same way you and I do; with the highest relevance
given to pages that directly relate to information about their
exact search phrase. The way to achieve top search results
on any given phrase is simply to become one of the top informational
resources for that particular phrase. Once you have good content,
your site becomes "linkworthy", and other authoritative
sites will link to you, sometimes without even being asked.
Those inbound links will also continue to improve your search