Tips for On Site Optimization
The first thing to understand about getting your site set up to be SEO friendly is that Google and the other search engines use computers (sometimes referred to as crawlers or spiders) to read your web site to determine who you are and what you do. For them to recommend you (which is what they are doing by putting you on page 1) they need to feel confident about who you are and what you do. The following tips are designed to help you have the search engines feel confident about who you are- if you have done that, you will have a search engine friendly site.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
The first step is to make sure you are clear about what search terms (keywords) you are optimizing. For example, if you are a Lawyer in New York, you may want to optimize for “Lawyer New York” or “New York Attorney”, or “New York Bankruptcy Attorney”, etc. These are samples of SEO keywords. We generally recommend you try to find keywords that have decent volume and lower competition. This can sometimes be easier said than done these days as SEO has become more and more competitive and so low competition all too often means no traffic, but that is the goal. To find good keyword suggestions, you can use Google’s keyword suggestion tool or try sites like Wordtracker or Wordstream. If you already do pay per click advertising, you will want to look at what keywords are working well for you- this is a good place to start to discover keywords that will work well for you for SEO.
Use Keywords in Your Web Site Text
Once you have decided on your keywords, make sure your site pages have text which contains your keywords. In order for Google to rank you high, they need to know who you are. Again, if you are trying to rank high for “Lawyer New York” but the words Lawyer and New York do not appear on your page, Google will not be impressed, nor will they be sure that you are in fact a Lawyer in New York. Google’s job is to give their users relevant content; our job is to make it easy for Google to know what we are relevant for. Mentioning your key terms on your page at least a 3 times and optimally throughout your site will help your SEO efforts. The actual number of times to use the word is a bit more of a science, but start with 3 times and you will be fine in most cases. Also keep it natural- for example don’t just write Lawyer New York, Lawyer New York, Lawyer New York. Google does not like that and could consider it spam.
Use Your Keywords in Your Headers (H Tags)
Google gives more weight to words you use in your headers (section headers also known as H tags- see image on page 3 for example). Headers are usually in larger font. Think about it, if at the top of your site you write New York Lawyer in big letters, then Google can feel much more confident that you are a Lawyer in New York than if you stuff it in small font a the bottom. Are you starting to think like Google yet? You need to use your keywords in your headers/headlines. It also helps to use your keywords as menu items, links and in bold and/or italics. This also tells Google that these are important terms to you.
A Note on Keywords in Images and/or Flash Files
Google cannot read images or flash. If your home page is filled with image files that have text in them, this does not help you with SEO as Google cannot read images or flash. In order to know if text on your site is an image, scroll over it. If it highlights then it is text. If not, it is likely flash or an image. While Google cannot read images, you can and should make sure your images are labeled with keyword rich titles and alt tags (but do not overdo it, just 1 or 2 keywords per image). Your designer will know how to modify image titles and alt tags are.
Keywords in Meta Tags
Then there are important meta-tags for your site- title, descriptions and keywords. These titles, descriptions and keywords need to use the keywords you are targeting. The title is what shows up on the top of your browser when you are on your site and it also shows up in the search results. Your description and keywords are added by your designer behind the scenes as meta-tags in your page code. The description also shows up in search results so it serves a dual purpose (as with the title) to be keyword rich, but to also be appealing so people click on you when they see you in the search results. If you are not familiar with these terms titles, descriptions or keywords, ask your designer, they should know how to update.
Have a Sitemap
Lastly, make sure you have an xml sitemap created (again your designer should be able to do this) and that he/she sets you up for Google Analytics and Web Master Tools. You can go into Google Web Master Tools and submit your xml sitemap. This tells Google all the pages in your site and will help your site get crawled. In addition, your sitemap should be placed in your root directory, www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
Once you have done all of this above, now everything will be lined up to make it easy for Google to know who you are and where to find you!
Contact Us if Any Questions
If any of this is not clear, contact me at 888.838.7798 and ask for Robert. Robert Weil is an SEO Expert and founder of Blue Fly Web Marketing (www.blueflyweb.com).