Techniques to Assist Your SEO Efforts
It’s a scenario played out millions of times every day. Someone wants to find something on line, they type their request into the Google search bar (there are other search engines but Google is the most common). A page opens up, with 10 additional pages (or more) listed numerically at the bottom of the screen. A typical web surfer will scan the list of returns on page one pretty thoroughly, then perhaps click to page two and scan it as well. But what are the odds they will browse page nine or 15, or 20 with that same level of interest? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the steps needed to make websites appear closer to the top of any user search. Working to enhance SEO for a website is a profession in its own right, but a few simple steps can make a real ranking difference to your website.
Keywords are central elements in any effective SEO effort. Keywords are subjective but in essence they are the words people would type when searching for your business. If for example you are a plumber in City XYZ, then making use of the phrases “plumber” and “City XYZ” should help make your website easier to find. Keywords could also include variations on the theme, such as “XYZ Plumber” or “Your Name Plumber”. Much of the SEO work takes place through a Content Management System (CMS) which are the tools that allow web developers to work on the secure back structures of the website itself. If you have access to the CMS you can do some of this yourself, but if uncertain it’s often just as easy to allow the professions do what they do best.
Keywords are also used in the content located in the visible portions of the website, such as the main descriptive text, blogs “About Us” sections and so on. If possible try to not focus on a single word. It’s usually better to employ a string of words that describe what you do. Some examples might include: “Residential plumber in City XYZ” or “Kitchen upgrade specialist”. If you do some exploring you will be able to find various free online tools to help generate keyword ideas. If seeking additional keywords it can be a good idea to ask your clients, friends or family what they would search for if they were looking for your business. Perhaps they’ll think of some you hadn’t.
It’s no exaggeration to say that content is king when it comes to websites and effective SEO. If you are producing materials that attract viewers and make them come back for more, then your website will rise higher in the search ranks naturally. Content refers to all of the text and information presented on your homepage. This could include any videos (an excellent SEO resource) blogs, photos, audio podcasts and of course written text. Content should always be original, compelling in nature, accurate and should be updated or changed frequently. Cramming too many keywords into content however can be a dangerous practice as Google could potentially penalize the website, which would defeat the whole SEO effort.
Pictures and other graphics are also key elements when it comes to search engine optimization. One effective but often overlooked way to improve a website’s search appeal is by making use of ‘Image Alt’ tags. Accessed through the CMS, Image Alt tags are alternative text descriptions of photos and other graphics. Many web users and email programs turn off the ability to view photos from websites. Filling in Image Alt tags, which are short written descriptions of the image in question, allows a text block to appear where otherwise a ‘broken link’ image would show up. Google is a big lover of Image Alt tags as well so using them on all photos and graphics will help attract the organic mechanisms of the search engine process, and provide important information to the end user.
SEO is a complex and ever-changing procedure, a technique that cannot be effectively address by any one (or 10) articles. If electing to conduct an SEO audit of your own website you are encouraged to do your research, online of course, to develop the best approach for making your virtual presence easier to find. If the task seems too overwhelming (and it can) then consider contacting professionals in your community. You have something to say, that’s why you have created a website. Now make it easy to find, by ensuring it is optimized for search engines.