What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a set of procedures carried out during and after the web design and development process that help produce a high page ranking for your website on search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO is essential if you want to increase traffic to your website. Why? Because the majority of internet users (around 90%) use search engines, most visitors (87%) come from the first page of a search, and after the third page a good number of your potential visitors have lost interest.

What is involved in search engine optimization?

There are tons of critera used to improve search engine optimization. Some critera include SEO research and marketing, web content writing, on page SEO implementation, back linking, offline marketing etc. etc. However, the the critera and best practices are constantly changing and may differ from one search engine to another.

Kaz Design Works provides clients with basic SEO implementation during the design and devlopment stage of their website and endeavours to use best practices as well as guide clients to continue using best practices once their website is complete.

Since SEO is constantly changing, the below information should be taken as a guide only as things may have changed since it was written.

The main techniques implemented on your website to help improve search engine optimization include ensuring all code is clean and correct, providing navigation between pages, adding appropriate title tags and meta tags to each page, and ensuring that the keywords or key phrases for each page are distributed throughout the content. Search engines index web pages using spidering software that crawl through your web pages in search of these tags as well as your content, looking for your key phrases and keywords.

Use clean code and internal links

It's important to design a website using clean (web standard) code although some third party scripts and constant changes to web standards may result in some non-standard code. There should also be a good amount of editorial content (400-600 words per page) and there should be internal links between pages enabling seach engine spiders to crawl through your entire website and index (or catalogue) each page. Too much code compared with the amount of content, or badly written code, may make finding your keywords hard. Missing or broken links will affect the search engines' ability to crawl through your website.

Use relevant keywords but don't keyword stuff

It is also essential to use different key phrases and keywords on each page and to ensure they are relevant to both your website and the specific page content. It has generally been recommended in the past to repeat key phrases and keywords several times on the page, both in the content (title and body text) and in the tags. However, search engines recognize "keyword stuffing" and may penalize your website by reducing its page rank! Not only that, but if your visitors do find your website, your content may not make sense and will inevitably drive them away. It is therefore essential that you don't over do it. If you are writing your own web content, ask a third party to read through it to ensure it makes sense.

Update your content regularly

SEO, and ultimately, page ranking, is also improved if you update your content on a regular basis and re-index your site with all the major search engines. This does not mean you need to rewrite every page, but adding a new page, writing relevant and interesting blog posts, adding new products or event listings on a regular basis, with links to and from other pages, will indicate to search engines crawling your website that it's not dormant. Also, if your visitors know you update your content with new articles or events on a regular basis, they are more likely to return and this, too, helps search engine optimization.

These are just a few ways to improve search engine optimization of your website. You can find tons more information on the internet by punching in the term "search engine optimization" to a Google search.

You can also follow these simple steps to improve your website's SEO »

How do the search engines know to index my site?

They don't. Once a website is published you or your website designer should index your website by submitting your URL to all the major search engines so the spiders "know" to catalogue it. The spiders will periodically crawl your site looking for new or updated content. If your content has not been updated for a long time, the spiders will assume your site is dormant and will eventually stop indexing it and it will slip further down the SERP (search engine results page) list.

If you don't update your website often, it's a good idea to resubmit your URL so that the spiders can re-index your site. This will help bring it back closer to the top of the SERP.

How do I know what key phrases and keywords to use?

Depending on your budget and/or your time available, you have three main options:

  • Hire a search engine optimization specialist
    A search engine optimization specialist will do all the research and write the content for you. However, it is the most expensive option and you must trust and rely on the expertise of the specialist.
  • Do your own research and write your own content
    If you are on a tight budget, which is usually the case for start-ups and sole proprietorships, you will probably choose this option. It will obviously require a lot of time and commitment on your behalf. But, in the long run, it will be well worth the extra effort if you are unable to afford the services of an optimization specialist. Need help with your writing? Find some here.
  • Do your own research and hire a good web content writer
    The third option is probably the best solution for those on a tight budget but who feel their writing skills are not up to par. A good content writer will not only ensure your content includes all your key phrases and keywords, they will write dynamic headlines that gain the reader's attention as well as content that makes sense and flows smoothly to keep them reading. They may even make suggestions for key phrases that you have not considered.

Note: The price for search engine optimization specialists varies considerably and higher fees do not always equate with better service. If you do decide to hire a SEO specialist you might want to read the following two articles from ecommerce-guide.com. They are from 2005 but you may still find them very useful.

Tidbit

Did you know the title tag is the most important element on a web page for search engine optimization?

The title tag is in the head code of your web page and surrounds the title that appears at the top of your web browser and/or browser tab. It is also the bolded text link for web pages that appear on a search engine results page. It's the first thing a potential visitor sees when looking for you or what you offer. It is therefore important to make sure it contains the main keywords for the page as well as grab the attention of the potential visitor. Most search engines only show around 70 characters from the title tag, so your page titles must be kept to 70 characters.

Did you know the second most important element on your web page is the H1 Heading tag? The H1 heading tag is code that surrounds the main heading on your page and is usually the largest title on the page (although it doesn't have to be). Not only is its role to grab the attention of the visitor to your web page, but it is important for Search Engine Optimization. It should match your browser title as closely as possible as well as contain the main keywords for the page. There should also only be one H1 heading tag on each page.