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  • 26 June 2014
  • Dr Billy M.

SEO basics for your website

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of techniques you can use to improve your site's visibility in a search engine's organic search results, which can be an effective tool for marketing your small business.

If you want to leverage the Web to make money for your business, SEO is crucial in considering the design of your site. Visitor traffic and conversion rate are directly proportional to your site's ranking, especially if your business' rank exceeds that of your competitors.

The objective of SEO is to get your website to appear at the top of search engine rankings...

The objective of SEO is to get your website to appear at the top of search engine rankings, since customers generally have little patience to explore, and therefore notice, anything listed after the first page of results.

Keywords

A keyword refers to a word or phrase that a user will enter into a search engine when looking for an item, product, service, or business. Carefully choosing keywords that best describe your business — and are frequently used on search engines — will help your site rank for those terms.

You may use a combination of short-tail keywords, which are fairly general and typically comprised of only one or two words, or long-tail keywords, which tend to be more specific and descriptive, such as "Sushi restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area." Conduct some keyword research to determine the keywords with the most search volume and, therefore, the most potential to bring traffic to your site. A good place to start is to use the Google Keyword Tool.

A word of caution: do not overuse keywords on a page. Search engines typically frown on, or even penalize, blackhat SEO practices such as keyword stuffing and paid traffic. For example, Google may de-index your website so that it will no longer appear in search results.

Title tags

As a general rule, each page on your website must have a unique title tag. It provides search engines with the information required to classify a Web page. Thus a title tag with strong optimization is bound to get higher placement in search results.

  • Insert keywords in the "title" section of your page's source code. In addition, keywords and/or key phrases should appear in the meta-description section, which describes your site's product, service, or content. Repeat this for each page, using unique keywords as appropriate.
  • For effective search, limit title tags to 70 characters, including spaces. Search engines will not display full titles in results, and very often readers will click on a link on the results page that displays the full title rather than a partial one.
  • Your title should be concise but descriptive and informative. Include keywords related to your product and/or service as well as your company's brand name. For example: "Sushi Dining Coupons and Discounts | Reiko's Restaurant — San Francisco, CA."
  • Your customized meta description should be a brief page summary — no more than 150–160 characters long — and should include target keyword(s) and/or key phrases.
Create a sitemap

Spiders — search engine indexing programs — crawl the Web and analyze new websites and content on existing websites. This effectively adds sites to the lists of pages that can be presented in response to user queries.

  • Create a site map. Make a directory that lists individual links to all pages on your site. This facilitates the easy movement of the spider programs throughout your business site, enhancing your content for natural search traffic and allowing search engines to properly crawl and index it.
  • Build internal links between pages. Create internal links that connect different pieces of content on your site so that search engine spiders can catalogue the pages. For instance, in addition to visitors getting to your "About Us" page from the navigation bar, include relevant text links to this page from within the body content on your home page.
Quality content

Make sure to combine SEO with quality content. In addition to keywords and phrases on a page, your content also affects ranking. Search engine algorithms will typically take into account the time readers will spend on your pages and the bounce rate — or readers who quickly return to the search engine because they are unsatisfied.

Make sure your site is updated regularly with clear, intelligent writing that catches readers' attention and keeps them on your page longer. A quality page has unique content, is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and offers something of use to readers.

Search engines will rank your site based on several indicators, such as traffic, fresh content, back links, and domain age. If your website was not built utilizing these SEO best practices, companies like Web.com can help. By implementing a SEO strategy, you can give potential customers a better chance of finding and engaging with your site.

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