Does the term “Search Engine Optimization” intimidate you? Is it something you’ve put on the backburner or just don’t have time for? Well, don’t be scared. There are actually a few, simple steps you can take today that can have a HUGE impact on your search rankings.
But first, it is important to ensure you have realistic expectations. Everyone would love to see their page show up at the top of Google’s search results for “dresses” or “hairbows” or whatever product or service you happen to offer. But keep in mind there are many businesses vying for that same top spot; some of whom are no doubt paying dedicated SEO teams and possibly for paid search results.
Increasing your site’s visibility in search engine returns takes time, but it can be done. The keys are having patience, and offering useful content for your site’s visitors. The goal of a search engine is to link their users up to the most relevant, valuable answers to their queries. If the search engines feel you are not offering current, useful content, you can expect your rankings in the search results to suffer. However, if your site is viewed positively by visitors, this information can get back to search engines through metrics such as sharing, bookmarking, return visits, and links from other sites.
So how does a search engine know to offer your site as a result for a search query? Using “spiders”, they periodically crawl (or scan) your site looking for updated content and keywords in a few areas, following the links throughout your site. That data is what a search engine compares against a user query to determine whether your site is what their user is looking for. Knowing what a search engine is looking for, and where they are looking on your site, is important for optimizing your results in search returns.
Keep in mind; your goal is to figure out what your potential users are looking for and configuring your site and keywords accordingly. In general, you will find more success using specific keywords, as the number of potential competing search results will be fewer. For example, using only the term “skirts” will mean your site is one of thousands of returns for “skirts”. However, using terms like “[Brand] Black Poodle Skirt” means your site will be up against fewer competing returns, making it easier to be at the top of search results.
Where do you want to use those keywords? In a few important areas:
The title is probably the most important place on your page to utilize your keywords. This is a field that appears at the top of a user’s Internet browser as they visit your site. More than that, this is often the text used as the title when your site is shared (ie. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or republished. It also appears in bold in search results, attracting a user’s eye to their first impression of your site.
When creating your title, keep it concise. Many search engines cut off the title after 65-75 characters. Also, use your keywords towards the beginning of the title.
This field is used for a short description of your page’s content. This is generally cut after 160 characters. While search engines do not use this field as part of their algorithms to determine search results, this is the primary source for the text displayed beneath the title in search results. So use this area wisely to make a good impression.
The actual content of your page is used by search engines to determine whether your site is a good match to what a user is searching for. It is also used to determine if your site is offering the content your title and meta information indicate. So don’t bother “keyword stuffing” to attract more users (ie. inserting popular terms such as Beyonce, etc.). That can only hurt your search returns. Be sure to use your keywords in the page text, more than once if possible.
Many sites contain important information in images, video, Java, etc. In most cases, the search spiders cannot access these and that information is basically non-existent to the search engine. If you do have important information contained in images/video/Java, make sure the media header/tags includes a relevant description. You may also want to reiterate the information in the text on your page.
Use the guidelines above to fill out the Title, Meta, and site fields throughout your site. This includes each of your products as well as your homepage, About Us area, etc. If you have any questions on how to enter this information on your site, let us know by submitting a ticket and we will be happy to help.
The information provided above will give your site a head start in climbing search engine page rankings. There are other, more advanced ways to optimize your site. For example, one key area the engines look at to determine the value of your site is how many other sites link to it. Many companies claim to be able to provide amazing Search Engine results. If you are thinking of using an SEO company, research them carefully. If they use “Black Hat” methods (methods the search engines feel are dishonest) your site could actually be penalized.
Keep this in mind, nobody outside of the search engines themselves know exactly what the search algorithms are looking for. Stick with a reputable, honest SEO company.
Have you used an outside company for SEO purposes on your site? We’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below!