13 Search Engine Optimization Techniques
11 Minutes, 31 Seconds
Written By John Marx
One reason we write our blogs is to dig deeper into the core fundamentals and keep our roots fully optimized and tuned for our customers. By writing we are showing our clients that we are true experts in the field as anyone can share other articles. The other benefit is we have a drive to teach others so that they don't have to spend as much time researching information. For many this can seem counterproductive as we are teaching others, even competitors, to do everything that we offer. This is true and many people will do this no matter if we teach them or not. Helping others though is in our blood and a core principal of who JM2 Webdesigners of Valparaiso is. With our teaching we are making the whole Internet a better place for all of us. For those that go through what we have here and realize that to do a full SEO optimization takes more than a few minutes of time and for those that we help they have a better understanding of what we are offering to them.
As the title of this article suggests we are going to go over several of the items that every website should do. We will be covering titles, description, keywords, image text, and other hidden information. We will also do some talk about some techniques for the overall text within your site.
Yes, our teachers told us how important math is. When I went to Chesterton High School I laughed that a small town teacher in Chesterton could even get any of us to do math. Looking back, we were all foolish. Partially because we were kids but also we didn't feel teachers knew as much as they truly did. I mean they were adults after all. Boy were we wrong. As a software development company we deal with math every day. We study how each search engine ranks and calculates the best we can. These mathematical formulas help us to achieve greatness. The good news out of this is that you don't have to be a math major. You just need to look and keep everything as efficient as possible following the best recommended techniques.
Thinking only about the desktop
In 2015 the mobile phone overtook the desktop when it came to searching. This fundamental change requires that you think about these smaller screens more than ever. There are techniques called Structured Meta Data that allow you to specify latitude and longitude which can help people in better finding your business.
The title is at the top of your browser. This information shows within the search results when someone searches within the search engines. The title tag should be 60 characters or less. We routinely strive to achieve a result between 45-50 characters when possible. Sometimes we do go over or under but are target is 45-50 characters. Going over can be considered spam as well as will just be cut off by the displayed browser results.
With such limited space for a title you don't want to waste that valuable space. One item we routinely see is this that this space is wasted by including the business name on all pages. If you have a 70 page site and your company name is "JM2 Webdesigners in Northwest Indiana" and you include that on every page you are wasting 37 characters on every page. You are literally destroying your SEO potential. This doesn't mean to not use your business name. Just not on every single page. A great way if you do use your business name is to include it at the very end. This way if it's chopped off the title of the page is still pulled into the results.
Another major problem we see is when the page title is not set (e.g. BLANK) or when the title is the same across multiple pages. This is truly a lost opportunity every time this happens. Each of your pages should strive to be the best they can be. If you copy your competition completely or even yourself you are hurting the chances of your business growing within the search engines.
Descriptions Still Matter
Many search engines don't always use this description and we know this. The interesting fact is the search engines still do use this information if they feel it is a viable description for the page, is concise, and an honest representation of the text of the page. Filling this information in may only work half the time but this is a brief description of what you feel the page is about. The search engines may or may not agree with you but if you don't try and ask them to use the information then they definitely will not use that information. Most search engines use a maximum of 160 characters for the description of a page. When you go longer the information is cut-off and doesn't display to the user. We strive to keep the information to 140 characters or less (just like a Twitter Tweet is 140 characters).
Keywords are one of the most misunderstood pieces of information. A single word of say "La Porte" (yes this is one word or a word for one town) people put in in hopes that people will find them. These single words are not what people routinely look for. They will routine look for a word/phrase and then the city or zip code. For example, "web design la porte" makes better since than just "web design" or "la porte". Another variant would be "web design 46350" which is the postal code for La Porte. In this example we are spelling La Porte correctly. But what about those that combine it? The search engines will automatically check for "web design La Porte" as well as they know about word variants. This doesn't mean you shouldn't use the variant in your results. Just balance what you have to not favor just one set of phrases over another.
Your website is most likely multiple pages in size. This is a good thing as you get more information displayed to your current and potential customers. As we've just talked about the title, description, and keywords note that every page is unique. We tell everyone that your website is an employee that is selling your business 24x7 and that it should be very well informed. This is very true but also treat your website as a book. Your homepage is the cover/welcome part of your site and every page within your site is a chapter of that book. Every page should have a different title, description, and a different set of keywords that you haven't used previously. It is possible many keywords will fit multiple pages. Great! Re-use them but make certain to also include other words so that you can reach the widest range of keywords.
Every image on your site large or small has a spot to explain what the image is. This should be a short and very concise description of what the image is about. If the picture is about a company event state where the event was, what you are doing, etc. A common mistake people do with images beyond not including the alternate text is having generic names for their images. If all of your images are from a smart phone they could all be PICTURE1.jpg, PICTURE2.jpg, and on. When you could put OurCrossRoadsChamberEvent.jpg and GreatCustomerGoogle.jpg are a lot better names that will also help improve your SEO results.
When you use a page name that contains keywords the information becomes more relevant to your customers. SEO our techniques used to optimize the users experience and present them with relevant information. When a page is naturally using keywords that real customers search for they will find relevant content more often. When that relevantnt information is on your own pages all the better.
There are different types of headings. We've just cover the title which is an overall heading that displays at the top of the browser and in the search results. The headings are the larger fonts within the page. There are six standard styles of H1 through H6. These are normally, not always, larger to smaller in font size. There should be ONE H1 per page. If you feel the need for a second H1 then you need a new page. There is no limit to the number of H2 through H6 you can have. It is best practice though to have the first heading as an H1, then the next and H2, H3, etc. A common structure when you use multiple is similar to what is below.
When it comes to links most people think of links from outside sources. A key item is that links inside of your website are extremely important as well. These internal links show that information within your site is related to other pages within your site. This builds internal relevance. This is not to say you shouldn't work on getting links from quality sources. If you don't feel you have any quality external sources of information here is a short list of sources, you can use to establish external site relevance.
- Chamber of Commerce
- Organizations / Memberships
- Industry specific experts
- Suppliers that you purchase from
- Social media
While on the subject of links make certain that you have all your internal links on your site being descriptive. What we mean here is "click here" doesn't mean the same to the search engines than "click here to learn about great web design in Chesterton Indiana". Give some contextual relevance to the link. This link description should also match that of the page you are going to. Don't say "Learn about search engine optimization" for a link and then link them to your "text marketing loyalty program". That is a lie and the search engines will see that.
Page Text (aka Content)
Despite some forms of information-based content starting to lose out to digital assistants and aggregated material, unique, quality content is still your best friend when it comes to being found on the internet. Having this high-quality and unique content people will see you as an expert source in your field. People look for opinions, insights, entertainment value, and personality and it's your job to keep this information current and relevant.
Stories are a key part to what we remember. A person will routinely remember a story better than they remember facts if it rings to them. Have your personality come out in what you present to engage your customer as they read.
Security is important in everything in life. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is as important to protecting your customers online as it is with the search engines. Google and Bing will give you a small "boost" over other sites that rank similarly. If two sites are considered at the same level from a search engine standpoint the site with SSL will "win" a tie. Whenever possible we work on giving our clients the advantage by having a good majority of them with SSL. Others choose not to do that as they are confident that everything else they've done doesn't need this tie differentiation.
In the past two months we constantly hear that people are still telling people they guarantee that they will rank. There is only one way to guarantee when it comes to the search engines. Google, Bing, and Yahoo can guarantee they will put you in the top position. This is because they own that service. Unless the people doing the guarantee own the service they cannot guarantee anything. Those that do these types of guarantee almost always perform "black hat SEO" techniques. These techniques will give you a "quick boost" and will look like great results. The problem is the search engines are smart; really smart. They will catch on and you will be penalized for your trying to cheat. We have one company we've talked about in this blog that went to another company who used these techniques. They were on page 1 in position 1 (can't do much better than that) but they were promised even better results. That number one position a year later is still on page 10. One of their competitors came to us and we've been helping them and they are now on page 1 (not number 1 – yet; we are working on it weekly). They are excited as their business is going and they hear the other business is not doing well and they feel it's related to the use of these bad techniques (there is no scientific proof but who are we to argue).
We only covered a very brief part of what search engine optimization is and what you need to do. Following what we have here and doing the best practices will get you positive results over time. You will not go up in your rank overnight. If you do your best, constantly change and improve (aka weekly or monthly) you will get to where you are going. Search engine optimization is truly a marathon. If you sprint for success you will almost always loose. There are always exceptions but they are rare. If you want a company that will work with you, in your best interest, and become a partner with you JM2 Webdesigners is here to help you grow. You can reach us at 219-229-1633, email at sales@BusinessYETI.com or through our online contact form here.
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