Category Archives: Web Design

Search Engine Optimization: A Primer

While creating an effective website is important, most website creators will also want to generate as many visits as possible. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

SEO involves making minute adjustments to your website in order to give it an improved presence on popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Used properly a website can show up higher on a search engine, vastly improving traffic to the website.

SEO Methods

Keywords

Keywords are words and phrases that define your website. Search engines track keywords when determining the page rank, a variable that determines how high up your website will appear on search engines, of your website. Significant consideration must be taken in determining what keywords will be effective for your website.

Make a list of keywords. Consider a couple of important words or phrases that define your site. Use words that people will search for when looking for your website. Single out a few keywords that you think will work best to place on your website. For example my website for this class is a local environmental group, so “environmental cause” or “Maryland environmental group” are two keyword possibilities.

If you are uncertain if people will use your keyword to search for your website, several keyword tools exist online to give you a detailed report of how often your selected keyword is used. Google’s Keyword Tool is one such example, giving a comprehensive breakdown of monthly hits along with other notable trends.

Place these keywords in your website. There are several locations where your keywords can go. These include:

  • Page Title – One of the biggest sections search engines will evaluate to determine what is on the web page.
  • Meta Data – Although not as frequently today, meta-tags help some search engines categorize websites. Meta tags are inserted into the HTML of a website and are not typically visible to the viewer. Fortunately several website editors (including EditMe) will take care of this for you if you give them your keywords.
  • H1 Header Text – The H1 header is the biggest header and is commonly used for titles and other critical information. As such, search engines like to analyze it.
  • Page Content – The main page content should include your keywords. Although it helps to use the keyword multiple times within your page, you should not go out of your way to include it. Unnatural keyword placement results in keyword stuffing and can hurt your visibility on search engines.

Be patient.Search engines won’t instantly pick up on your keywords overnight. It will take a couple of days for engines to register the keywords and integrate them.

Page Linking

Good website navigation does more than just help your user navigate your website; it also helps search engines access your webpage. Search engines use web crawlers to explore your website and pull out searchable information like keywords. Good keyword placement is useless if the search engine cannot access your pages.

Homepage navigation is key. Crawlers will start at the homepage and progress from there to other sections of your website. Pages that are not linked from the homepage or pages immediately linked to the homepage can be easily missed.

Consider linking to similar websites. Known as reciprocal linking, two mutual websites that link to each other will boost rankings on search engines for both websites. This also has the practical effect of increasing traffic to your website from users to the website you link to.

Fun fact: Avid blog readers may be familiar with spam comments, artificially-generated comments from bots with a link to a website that you are…usually better off not visiting. This is a variation of page linking, albeit a rather unethical one.

These are just a few examples of using SEO to increase your search engine presence. The week 9 reading on SEO provides a more comprehensive look at SEO techniques including more specific information on the ones listed in this blog post. There are also a number of books dedicated to the topic.

Perfectly optimizing your website to meet SEO standards can take a significant amount of work. Agencies exist that are dedicated solely to assist organizations and other individuals in making a website SEO-compatible. In addition, consultants serve as search-engine optimizers. If you are a business attempting to construct a high-ranking website, hiring a specialist will make the process much easier. Google offers some useful tips on what to look for in a search engine optimizer.


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