Google’s algorithm takes many variables into account when it produces a search engine result. We aren’t going to explain them all here, but we have helped many small businesses in Denver and Colorado rise quickly to the top of their desired search engine rankings by following some simple, straightforward guidelines for optimizing their websites for search engines.
First, a quick word of caution about search engine optimization. If there is not enough search volume out there for your business, the best SEO in the world won’t make visitors appear. You need to be sure to target sufficient volume to have an impact. Do your keyword research first and find out how much people are searching for your targeted keywords. If you want to do it yourself, look at tools like Google Keyword Tool, SEO Book, or Wordtracker.
If you are having a vendor do this for you, have them show you the search volume for the targeted 15-20 keywords they recommend. If the keywords are not relevant or too general, or the search volume is not large, or the competition for each keyword is high, it will be hard for you to generate the traffic you want.
Now on to the heart of the matter – website optimization for you, the small business owner.
First we’ll talk about what we call “on-site optimization”, or addressing what you can change on your own website platform. Most experts estimate that on-site optimization accounts for about 30 percent of your overall search rank. It is the easiest piece to address, and because many sites don’t do it well, it can have a great impact.
1. Write for human beings
Search engines can tell if you are keyword stuffing, and if you don’t write for human beings, they won’t stick around to see what drew them there in the first place.
2. Focus on only 10-25 related keywords for your entire site
By doing good keyword research up front, and then building up content (and links) around those keywords, you develop sustainable strength for search engines. Picking too many target keywords dilutes your efforts.
3. Put your target keywords in the right places
Once you have the target keyword list, put the target keywords in the key locations on each page – the URL, the page name, the page title, the H1 tag, the content, and the images. We have a sitemap spreadsheet tool that we use with clients that helps plan out how the keywords will be used.
4. Write different titles for each page
Keep the title to less than 70 characters and mix up the keyword combinations
5. Write a unique meta description for each page.
Using no more than 160 characters, write compelling phrasing that has a call to action in in it, since this is what is seen by people underneath search engine results.
6. Be smart when linking internally
Don’t just create random links and think carefully about the words and phrases you choose for the links. Creating links between pages of your website is important for human AND for search engines. Use your target keyword phrases in the link text
7. Create an XML Sitemap
Search engines love them and you can build a sitemap for your website easily using the XML Sitemaps Generator. Upload the sitemap to your front page, and tell Google, Yahoo, and Bing where your xml sitemap is located.
8. Name your images with alt text
Since search engines can’t see an image, use your keywords to name the image file (separate words with dashes in file name) and to describe it to the search engines. Example: “lawyer-giving-deposition.jpg” and an alt tag of “lawyer giving deposition”.
To be continued …