There’s no greater disappointment than spending weeks or months building your business website only to have it languish in the search results. Let’s face it: very few web surfers will look past page one of the search results. They may look as far as page three if they can’t find what they’re looking for, but after page three the overwhelming majority of surfers will change their search keywords and search again. If you are a business whose keywords bring up thousands of search results, how can you get to Google page one without spending a fortune? Through search engine optimization.
Achieving good natural page placement in search results (aka “organic search results”) is done through helping the search engines identify what your page is about. By using specific markers and keywords as you lay out your page and write your content, the search engines are able to determine not only what your page is about, but the value of your page relative to other pages using the same keywords. The web pages that win the search engine optimization game are the ones that will achieve the best page placement.
Five Basic Elements of SEO
Entire books have been written about search engine optimization or SEO, and there is a huge industry of consultants earning a living from helping websites perform better. Opinions differ widely about what works and what doesn’t. I won’t get involved in those arguments. What I will do is list and define some basic elements which should be considered as you build your website.
URL and Title Tag
Every page of your site is designated by a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The URL is how web surfers find your page. Ideally, the page URL should reflect what the page is about; include your keyword if you can. Also, your page should have a title tag that tells the search engines what the page is about. Titles like “Home” and “About Us” don’t tell anything.
Meta Tags and Keywords
Most good sitebuilders will ask you to identify the meta-tags and keywords for your page. Include all keywords that are relevant to the page. The keywords should reflect the content of the page. Use your keywords as you write the page content, but don’t over-use them. Google frowns on pages which are “keyword-stuffed”. For search engine optimization, keep your relevant keywords to under two percent density. There are free keyword density checkers online. Use them to check you keyword density before your publish your page.
If you want to be found, write original content. Show me a thousand pages all equal in SEO factors, and the one with the best original content will be the one to rise to the top. It’s a shame that there are so many sites with excellent search engine optimization and crappy, aggregated and spun content. Searchers come for good information; give it to them.
Ease of navigation, web site designs, images, videos, shopping carts, and other elements all have an impact on how the search engines rate your website.
The number of links you have between the pages and elements of your website have a bearing on your search engine optimization. Also, the number of links coming into your site (know as one-way links) will have a positive impact on how the search engines rank your site.
If you want your website to be found, search engine optimization should be embraced, and updated and improved regularly.
Originally posted 2011-03-09 10:45:00.