A professional, user-friendly and fast-loading website is only half the battle. You have to show up in Google searches to really capitalize on your website investment. Because the majority of web surfers do not get very far in their search results, if you are not on the first page of Google for your targeted keywords, you are not getting the maximum lead generation from your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via free results otherwise known as organic search results. The first step is to determine how your visitors are finding you and which keywords have higher conversion rates through keyword research. After you have determined which keywords to target, here are some things you can do to get on the first page of Google.
Your page content, ALT text (alternative text for images), link text, breadcrumbs, linked file names, headings and subheadings are all great places to insert your keywords. Using “click here” doesn’t tell Google anything about your webpage and hence is very bad for SEO. Also be aware of keyword stuffing which is when the keywords are just repeated so much so that the text does not make sense anymore. A keyword density of 10% or more starts to look very much like keyword stuffing and it is likely to get blacklisted by search engines.
SEO-friendly (static) URLs are urls that are short and include your keywords which are more effective than dynamic URLs. Google makes a point of treating static URLs better than dynamic ones with ‘?’, ‘&’ and ‘=’ which are both unfriendly and unhelpful. In addition, search engines prefer hyphens over underscores. When creating URLs with multiple words in the format of a phrase, hyphens are best to separate the terms followed (in order) by, underscores (_), pluses (+) and nothing. Most content management systems nowadays can overwrite dynamic URLs with pretty ones using Apache.
An XML sitemap is for search engines which is not to be confused with an HTML sitemap which is for your visitors. An XML sitemap is important because it helps search engine spiders see pages of your website. If you use Joomla or WordPress, you will be able to install a plugin that generates an XML sitemap. If you have a static website, you can use an XML Sitemap generator and then upload it to your server.
Your meta title is the title that comes up in search results. Your meta title should be specific enough to accurately describe your page content but vague enough to attract enough visitors. If you must include your business name, include it last because the people who know your name, already know how to find you. Repeat your keywords with different words twice while keeping the total number of characters including spaces and punctuation to 70 characters. Use initial capitals throughout the title, limit punctuation and use word variations whenever possible. If you are using WordPress, we recommend the All-in-One-SEO pack plugin.
Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from search engine result pages (SERPs). These short summaries advertise content to searchers and inform them how your webpage is more relevant to encourage a higher click-through rate. The meta description should employ the keywords intelligently, but also create a compelling description to entice the web surfer to click. Direct relevance to the page and uniqueness between each page’s meta description is key. The description should ideally be between 150-160 characters. To maximize click-through rates on search engine result pages, it is critical to note that Google and other search engines bold keywords in the description when they match search queries.
You should link to pages with other pages that have relevant content related to that subject. Linking pages informs search engines about your page content and allows them to group similar topic pages together. This grouping, if well thought out, tells the engines how much content you have about a particular topic. Do not link every keyword to every page that has that keyword because you can confuse search engines.
Google takes a snapshot of each page it examines and caches (stores) that version as a back-up. The cached version is what Google uses to judge if a page is a good match for search terms queried.
This sounds obvious but is rarely done. Broken links cause 404 errors which have negative effects on your search engine rankings so it is quite reasonable to be proactive in avoiding them to improve exposure and increase site traffic. You can find broken links by going into Google Webmaster Tools (once your site is verified) and selecting the Not Found category.
A Google Webmaster’s Account shows you how Google sees your website, when your site was last crawled, duplicate title and description tags, external and internal links and lots of other things vital to your SEO strategy.
If you want other websites to link to you then you must prove to be link-worthy. You need to create valuable content that people want to reference. Make it to link to your content by having your social sharing buttons prominent. Build a reputation by presenting compelling content to your target market and other experts in your industry. Finally, be sure to publicize your content to all your social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others.
There are many other SEO techniques not discussed here like blogging, article submissions, forum posting, etc.. Here is a complete list of our SEO services.
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Jeanette Kwok Web Design
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
San Jose, CA
jeanette (at) jeanettekwok.com
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