SEO - Cutting Through the Clutter to Get You Results
If you had to guess, how many websites would you say are in the world? One million? Ten million? Internet experts differ wildly in their estimates.
Guesses range from between one hundred million to more than three hundred million active websites today. So with all this competition, how are you going to get your website noticed?
The answer is clear: Search Engine Optimization.
What is Search Engine Optimization? Basically, it is industry speak for anything that makes your site more attractive to search engines. Websites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others send out programs called "crawlers." These "crawlers" search for new websites and content. When they find anything new, they add it to their database and make it possible for people to find it using them. This is called indexing. But you have to do it correctly, or Google will skip right past you.
For example, let's say you own a small shoe company called Seattle Treks. You just put up a website. How can you make sure people find you on Google?
1.) Be sure the purpose of your site is clear.
In the code of your site, there is a place for "meta" information. This is the information that Google and other search engines look for first. There are two types of meta information: Meta descriptions and meta tags (more on meta tags in step 2). The meta description is what people read below your name in Google. Describe the purpose of your site and your company in a short, succinct phrase. "Seattle Treks - Buy fine custom footwear made in Seattle, Washington" will attract Google and tell people what to expect from your site.
2.) Fill in the meta tags.
These are words that are associated with what you are. They go in the code on the main index page of your site. These words give Google clues as to what your site is about. If people type these clue words into Google, your site will pop up. So for your imaginary shoe company, you would put words like "shoes, usa made shoes, leather shoes, hiking books, A-TRAK shoes, treks, treks seattle, shoes seattle, outdoor shoes," etc.
Try to picture the words people might type into Google. This SEO work will ensure that when people are looking for shoes made in USA, or maybe for hiking boots, your website will pop up. Every site, no matter what it is for, needs to have solid meta tag information.
3.) Put dynamic content on your site.
This means anything that changes. The Internet is like a pile of sand that you have to keep climbing and climbing. The moment you stop going up, you start sliding down. So add content to your site constantly. The more new content you have, the more often Google's crawlers come by. The more often they come, the more often you get indexed. The more you get indexed, the higher you show in the search results. This is why big companies pay lots of money for SEO experts to keep them on top.
How can you have dynamic content? Easy. Start a blog. Blogs are a painless way to add new content. Talk about your new shoe models. Take pictures of your community activities and write about them. Add to your blog at least once a month. Be sure that when Google comes around again, it finds a lot of new things to index.
4.) In the writing of your site, be keyword rich.
What does that mean? It's SEO speak for having a lot of the words that Google looks for. For example, images are an often overlooked keyword opportunity. Don't call a picture of your new shoe "img3.jpg." Try "new_shoe_model_XTRAC4_seattle_treks_shoe.jpg." If someone searches any of those words on Google, chances are good they will stumble across your picture and come to your site.
When you write on the site, use lots of keywords. "Our shoes are made right here in Seattle, using the finest nubuck and space-age materials," will help Google. Keep that in mind when you write on your blog, and be sure to put "tags" on your entries.
5.) Set up company pages with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.
Backlink them to your site and add as many friends as you can. Google loves sites that link to other sites.
6.) Make a site map.
This is an .xml file that goes in the root directory of your site and tells Google what all the pages are for. If you don't understand .xml, it's probably something you should have an expert do.
7.) Use a Search Engine Optimization service.
These people are experts who know how to make search engines find you. They can also help you to create a site map.