SEO Part 1: The Simple Stuff

I was talking with a friend the other day about websites, and as it usually does the topic of search engine optimization (SEO) came up. My friend was familiar with the concept of SEO, but was not sure where to start to process. As we talked, it became apparent that it was time to write down the basics, so here we go. While you are reading this, keep in mind that this is not a deep dive into SEO, but the basics. Also, the target audience is someone not familiar with SEO, and who is not a website designer or developer.

So, to kick things off, let’s start with some topics that relate to SEO, but are not really technical in nature. For example, if you are a business that hires an outside agency to design your website, these are the items that can be taken care of both before and after the outside agency does its thing. Truthfully, these are also some of the biggest factors in SEO, and they will take some work on the part of the website owner, but they also have some of the biggest rewards:

The Keyword Meta Tag is not the Key

Just as an experiment, I asked some technical friends (but not web developers) what will result in good SEO. The keyword meta tag was often the first thing out of their mouths. Because of this trend, I want to get this out of the way first: The keyword meta tag has little to no influence on SEO. In fact, Google stopped using the keywords meta tag years ago, as it has been widely abused. Now, I am not saying that there are not some uses for the keyword meta tag, but it is a very low priority, so just get it out of your mind for now.

Now, Bing, Yahoo and others may still have some use for it, but on the SEO priority list, this is still at the bottom. Leave it there. In fact, if you leave your keywords meta tag blank, no search engine will care. Did you just tell me to leave it blank? Yes I did. If you do want to use this feature, keep it simple. Remember that if you were to put your best keywords in this section of your website, your competition can see them, too.

Keywords are a Different Thing all Together

Now, keywords have always equaled the words people are searching for, and although the meta tag “keywords” does not play a big role in SEO anymore, keywords, and keyword density, still do. The difference is, the keywords need to be in the content of your website. As for the density (or frequency) of a keyword, the more times a word appears in your content, the better chance it will rank your page higher in a search for that word. In a lot of ways, this is going to be a natural process. Just look at the number of times I have written “SEO” on this page. Hard to avoid it, if I wanted to. Also remember to cut out the fluff. The more words on the page, the less concentrated each word is.

Finally, avoid anything unethical. Keyword stuffing and similar strategies rarely get results, as the search engines are actively looking for these techniques. Once you are discovered by a search engine, it will not be good for your site. At best unethical techniques will get your page ranked low. At worst, it will get your site banned from the search engine.

Content is King

The more fresh content on your site, the better your rankings. Period. This could be the single most important thing on your website, and it is often the most neglected.

The problem is that the average business owner is very busy and writing a business blog or sharing industry news on a website is just one more item on the to-do list. Additionally, not all business owners are comfortable writing in general, so they will end up organizing the sock drawer before typing out a few words. The real catch is that it can be very difficult to find someone else who can do this for you. You know your business better than anyone. You are the expert, so the best person to add the content is you.

Website content is also the cheapest marketing space around. In fact, after your initial investment of getting the website running, there is no additional cost of content, except your time, and the payoff will be the difference between a website that brings in more customers, or one that collects proverbial dust. Content is not only descriptions of your services or wares, but about establishing your mastery of your field — the same thing you do every time you talk to a potential customer.

By the way, if you are looking for a social media strategy, good content is the key to that, as well…but that discussion is for another time.

Frequency is Good, but Quality is More

Question: You are looking for home lawn care, who do you call first?
Answer: the next person to put a lawn care flier in your mailbox.

Or maybe the phone number on the side of the pickup truck you pass on the way to work. The point is, having your information in front of someone when they need it is the key. This is where frequency comes into play. And not just frequency, but tempo, as well. Not too much that it is overwhelming. Not so little that your site becomes stale. This part is for the readers. Feel free to establish a schedule, and stick to it. After a short period, it will become easy, and it will keep your customers coming back.

Now, when you have an idea for content (say, a blog post,) go ahead and get it ready. Having a few blogs “in the bag” is a great way to keep your site fresh when you otherwise do not have the time. Many articles you write will not be time sensitive, so save them for when you run out of current information to share. This allows you to take your time, and this is where the quality comes in. This is for the SEO. Search engines are ranking your site based on the quality of the content being updated. Quality trumps speed. Take your time, get it right, and queue up what you can to keep customers interested.

The URL, Part 1

Finally, we come to the URL. The first part of any URL is simply the domain name that you have purchased, and it is how your customers identify your website. Often this is simply the name of your business, and there is nothing wrong with that, as this allows current people already familiar with your company to find you easily. Now, if a keyword for your industry also happens to be in your domain name, than even better. That is to say, is better than simply if a potential customer is searching for photography. Simple, but true.

And with that, I will leave it. We’ll pick it back up soon with a slightly more technical angle in The URL, Part 2.

4 Responses to “ SEO Part 1: The Simple Stuff ”

  1. Pakar SEO says:

    It’s hard to come by experienced people on this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

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