Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (based on relevance and not paid advertising) search results.
Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it “ranks,” the more searchers will visit that site. 4 out of 5 people click on these “natural” links instead of the sponsored (paid for) links at the very top of the results page. This makes those positions highly valuable.
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. This would include META Tags, Page Titles, Site Maps and Bot instructions just to name a few.
If you have ever researched SEO and the associated fees, or know someone who has, you know its often a larger investment than what you paid to create your website. Average fees for professional optimization of your website would be $4,000 to $5,000 with a contract that includes additional monthly fees of $400 or more. In 6 months time you can easily invest several thousand dollars.
Some companies (you know the ones that spam your email) even offer magic solutions that could cost you $20,000+ in a years time. Clients frequently forward me these and my reply is always the same, “Just delete it”. Quality SEO can be expensive but not THAT expensive. Plus these tactics (“black hat” as they are called) are regularly checked by Google and can result in your website being blacklisted, which means your site will not show up in any search results.
Most SEO firms charge you based on what the process is worth, not how much time it took.
If your advertising on a national level and are expecting $200,000 in internet sales, then paying $10,000 for top shelf SEO is actually cheaper then national television or radio advertising.
We do not charge for the value of your listing, we optimize your site for our regular hourly fee and discuss with you in a few months, whether or not you want to re-evaluate and optimize some more. There is no hassle, monthly fee and no obligation to keep changing your SEO or adding inbound linking after our initial work is complete. While we do encourage quarterly re-evaluation, we will never do it without your consent.
What is SEO? Search Engines look at 5 major (and a few minor) things when adding websites to their database:
The days of search engines using only the META Tag are long gone. Today’s search engines catalog your content – all ASCII based text is searched thru for relevant words that might come up in a search. The more “general” the content on your site is, the less relevant copy will be cataloged and the lower your keyword rankings will be. Google likes pages with 700+ words focused specifically on your keyword content.
Tightly focused copy on your website will dramatically increase your keyword rankings. The old rule of print media still applies to the web today – Content is King.
Domain & Page Titles
Believe it or not, your domain name can make or break you. For all the SEO you do on a website dedicated to “Pink French Roses”, you will almost always be ranked below a website called PinkFrenchRoses.com. It is always important to consider this when choosing a domain name. For this reason, many online companies will purchase multiple domain names and point them all to a single site. This would also explain why people are willing to pay top dollar for a .com!
SiteMaps & Robot.txt
While an end user rarely sees a sitemap (and never sees a robot txt file) these are a very important part of working with the search engines. When a search engine bot runs thru your site to index it, it looks for these files. The Site Map tell it where all your pages are, the robots.txt file tells it what pages to index, what priority each page has in the hierarchy of your site, what not to index, and how often it should come back to the site if frequent content changes are made. To learn more about robot.txt files click here.
This is probably the most important, yet most overlooked SEO tactic. Inbound links are links on other websites that go to a page on your website. The number of of people linking to your site increase what Yahoo! and Google refer to as popularity. If there are 2 sites that sell chocolate covered strawberries with the same amount of content and keywords then the server will consider the more popular one to be more relevant and list it higher than the other. Popularity of a site is becoming increasingly more important as a way for search engines to bring your quality search results although Yahoo! has been using it for over a decade.
This is also an area that many of the “snake oil” SEO companies charge you so much for. They build blog sites dedicated to adding endless blogs about a site with links to it that if read by a human, the doesn’t make much sense, but if read by a search engine spider, will be considered a regular blog just talking about you site. This is a tactic called farming and recently Google has implemented ways to find them and penalize you for using them. what worked 2 years ago could now push you further back than if you didnt do any SEO at all, or worse, you get blacklisted from Google completely.
A good way to use this Inbound Linking without spending too much money or being penalized by search sites would be to add your business site to as many online business directories as you can find. Most of them are free to add. The more the better!
META Tags define an attribute of your page. There are many META tags including common ones like description, keyword, author, etc that many who dabble in web design are familiar with. There are over 200 different tags that give servers and search bots specific information.
Depending on how you edit your tags. You can tell search results how to include your page. You can give a specific title and synopsis that users will be able to read in the short paragraph listed on the results page. If a website does not have META tags then search results will commonly just include a small random section of text on the page as the example. This would explain to many why they see random information on some results and a focused introduction or comment on other results. If you want a user to click on your link you have to include important META information to let them know what they can find on that specific page.
While META tags are used considerably less then a decade ago for search engine rankings, they are still important today for the results that are displayed. Dont let anyone tell you that META is a waste of time!
What about Flash?
Flash is dead, flash is no good for SEO. Flash doesn’t work on most smart phones. We dont work with flash any longer, let it go. HTML5 can do a lot of the same things.
As you can see there is a lot to think about when discussing SEO and your website.
In the end there are no real magic tricks that can help you more than just building a quality website with strong content and fine tuning. There are a dozen different things that need to be tightly focused as well as constant tracking of end user searches and traffic patterns. In the end, focusing on your SEO can ultimately cost you more than what you paid to have your site designed but not by such a staggering amount. If you think about the costs of advertising in real world mediums, you can easily see that an investment in SEO is still cheaper than many other options.
How can we help you with your search engine results? Contact us today for a free consultation!