Search Engine Optimization Basics
Salt Lake City SEO
You are part of the majority if you lack an understanding of search engine optimization. The market place is dynamic; it is constantly evolving. Yet there are come constants about SEO that are here for the long run. This page will be useful to those who are not completely familiar with SEO and want to learn more. SEO is not a do-it-yourself endeavor; you must secure the services of a competent professional. It doesn’t matter whether you are in New York City or Salt Lake City, SEO issues are the same everywhere.
On-Page & Off-Page Optimization
On page optimization refers to anything that you have total control over with regard to SEO. This includes the programming source code that the search engines use to find the content and attributes of your website. This may include meta data, title tags, other html tags, domain name(s), url structure, content, navigation, etc. Much of this is detailed below.
Off page optimization includes the number of links to your website from others, social media connections, articles, press releases, and domain maturity. Recent trends have amplified the significance of off page techniques to the point where they are responsible for over 50% of your search engine rankings. Today, you must constantly strive to add links; there is no such thing as too many. You must routinely update your site by posting to Facebook and Twitter. You must submit articles for publication. You can’t do much about the age of your domain short of purchasing and older one, but you can extend your prepaid registration period to gain some ranking benefits.
Meta Tags & SEO
Meta tags are by far the most common of the terminology we hear when someone tries to explain SEO to someone else; however, they are actually only a very small part of optimization. These are pieces of html code on your website that do not appear within the design of the website or on the portion displayed to “human” browsers. Most meta tags are visible only to the search engines and the browser that is loading your website. Meta data specifies the location and construct of information that is common to all websites.
Meta Description Tag
While meta tags generally have less importance than in the past, the meta description tag is still a critical part of SEO. It gives the search engine a 165 character (about 25 words) description of the primary function of the site. It is important as it is the information displayed beneath the page title in the search engine results pages. It has much less to do with rankings than with conversions. It often provides the motivation we need to click on one site over the other. It must be compelling. If not, searchers will simply move down the page until they find one that is. Here is an example of a poorly-written meta description tag:
<“Salt Lake City SEO services firm company, the lowest price anywhere.”>
In that example, there are several things to note. First, valuable real estate is being wasted as it is less than half of what Google allows. Next, it is stating what you already know from entering keyword information into the search parameters. It is using a very trite statement, “the lowest price anywhere” that most people ignore. Finally, it is incorrectly written from a grammatical standpoint.
Here is a better example of a meta description that is more likely to compel a click:
<“A top Salt Lake City SEO firm that specializes in writing, article distribution, and other online marketing services at a price that won’t impact your mortgage.”>
Meta Keyword Tag
Meta keyword tags have lost much of their luster over the past few years. Google does not index them at all; Yahoo! and Bing still do, but they are of lesser importance lately. Many SEO techicians do not enter them as they can assist competitors using this information for their own SEO strategies. They are not visible either on the search engine results pages or on the website itself. This is a prime example of the need for professional assistance. Indiscriminant use of meta keywords can actually result in penalties rather than improvement.
Title Tag & SEO
Title tags are still one of the most important on-page SEO factors. You should always use descriptive titles that are short (65 characters maximum), to the point, and contain the primary keyword for the page. It is not necessary to use a complete sentence; use snippets to name landing page being optimized. For example, a page describing seo copywriting costs could have a few possible title tags such as, “SEO Copywriting Costs”, “SEO Copywriting Fees”, “SEO Copywriting Packages”, etc. A bad example would be something like, “SEO Copywriting Best Services Keywords and More”.
One of the primary areas of SEO where webmasters and business owners usually fail is keyword research. The keyword selection process is the step that will ultimately determine the success or failure of the entire SEO campaign. Poor keyword research often results in months of wasted effort chasing unattainable or unsearched keywords. A good keyword phrase will contain the following characteristics:
- It is verbatim what people are searching for online and actually typing into the search bar.
- It will be relevant to your product or service, without being too broad or too specific.
- It will offer high conversion ratios on your website leading to sales or contacts.
- It will be realistically attainable.
There are many keyword research tools available to determine what people are searching for such as Overture Keyword Tool (formerly free, now owned by Yahoo!) and Wordtracker. For instance, we would not want to optimize for a keyword such as “copywriting”. It is too broad and includes niche services that you may not offer such as “brochure copywriting” or “magazine copywriting”. The best phrase would be “SEO copywriting”, because it is being searched, is specific enough, and is relevant. You would also not want to use something so specific that it will never bring in any traffic such as, “utah seo copywriting and web design services”. How often do you think someone actually tries to type that in? Seldom, if ever. This is a common gimmick unethical SEO companies utilize. They promise or even guarantee first page placement for keyword phrases no one uses.
Website Copy & Keywords
This is one of the more tedious aspects of SEO that does make a difference and is important. You must have a good amount of content on a website to achieve high rankings. You must also be certain the website copy has keywords contained throughout. However, you can no longer just focus on the search engines and write a lot of gibberish that is not clearly readable, understandable and INTERESTING. Simply include keywords throughout your website copy at natural intervals. And, adapt to change. Should you discover that “seo copy” is yielding more results than, “seo copywriting”, make the changes in your website copy. Or, you might convert a sentence such as, “…you can get these services at a discounted rate for the month of May” to “…you can get the Gold SEO Copywriting package at a discounted rate in May.” Changing occurrences of pronouns [this, that, these, he, she, it, etc.] to keywords can produce amazing results.
Google’s PageRank tool has decreased in importance over the last few years. So much so, that even Google no longer factors it into its own algorithms. It is included in this discussion only due to its past prominence and the fact that it is so well recognized. It is one of about 200 variables that determine website value, and is no more important than any other. It is however, a good, basic predictor of how well your website is optimized for Google. Still, it has very limited SEO implication anymore and is becoming less and less reliable. PageRank increases alone will not result in additional traffic or higher search engine rankings. Bottom-line: if you perform all of the proper SEO techniques, your page rank will climb. But, that should be the result, not the goal.
It never ceases to amaze us how much time and effort (same as money) is expended on establishing a good SEO campaign only to ignore follow-up analysis. If you are not tracking the following, you will soon wish you had:
- The source of your visitors (search engines, links, PPC, etc.)
- The keyword phrase used to find your website
- The time spent on specific pages
- The number of visitors who leave immediately
- Which links on your site they are clicking
- Which sources have the best conversion ratios
- And, so much more…
Every website must install some sort of web analytics to gain this valuable information so you can revise, revamp, and continue to improve. Shooting blind in the dark must not be one of your options when it comes to serious SEO campaigns. A simple FREE tool you can add to your website is Google Analytics.
Incoming Links – Anchor Text
It is in your best interest to determine and even control the anchor text being used for all inbound links (from other sites to yours) Most websites that link to you will either use your full domain, i.e. http://mywebsite.com, or your company name, “Adaptivity Pro.” Even better would be links that include your keywords such as, “Salt Lake City SEO copywriting services”, or within paragraphs on other websites, “…find out more information about Salt Lake City SEO copywriting.”
Incoming Links – Website Theme
Make certain the websites that are linking to you are relevant to your products and/or services. Search engines are quite advanced in this area and will notice the difference. If I have a seo copywriting service, I do not necessarily want links from a car dealership, flower shop, or a dental office. However, links from a marketing firm, seo company, web design firm, etc. would be beneficial. And, avoid link farms at all costs. These are companies that will sell you masses of links for, “one, small price.” You will have purchased a large quantity of poorly ranked, irrelevant links that will not help and may result in your site getting banned.
Domain Names & URL Structure
When possible, use keywords in your domain name and url structure. The domain name is not as important as it once was and is certainly not worth changing based upon this one factor. Changing URL structure is easier to do and is beneficial; this is especially true for dynamic and product-based websites.
You want to avoid URLs such as:
Use something like this instead:
Do you notice how you get useful information about the website in the second example simply by looking at the domain name? The first example offers no clue. The search engines are the same way; they can determine the content of the webpage by the URL text and structure. Contact us today in Salt Lake City. SEO will move your site up to the next level.