Thursday, February 26, 2009

SEO - Can You Control It? Basic SEO 101



What IS SEO anyway? Search Engine Optimization is the term used to describe how one optimizes the content placed on the Internet to ensure that the content is found and placed in results.

To some, it is a fancy word that is perceived as a high cost endeavor. I tell you, though, there are things that you can do to boost your presence in searches -- and they do not cost anything but your time and persistence!

Let's start with the strategic concept. When someone types in a search term into a search engine and it relates to the items that you sell online, you want your shop or an article about you to be on the first or second page. This gives you a competitive advantage. While professional SEO is a very complex effort, the basic SEO is not.

The Search spiders and crawlers will read your file names, the content, the domain names, alt tags, H1 and H2 html headers, page titles, and meta content. They like frequent, new, and changed content.

The concept is that you want to pepper your shop name, item category, and key words all over the Internet in the areas listed above. Anymore, having one web page or one shop does little for your SEO.

The work is to be done consistently, frequently, and thoughtfully. Here is a list of tasks for you:
  • Photos & images: for every image that you upload to the Internet, anywhere, always include key words in your image file names. Example: gallerialinda_jewelry_1001.jpg.

  • File names: as with your image files, if you upload documents or other files to share, be sure to use the same tactics. If you are creating your own html pages, name the html page with a key word, such as "gallerialinda_about.html."

  • Text content: anywhere you type in anything about you and your business, be sure to do it thoughtfully and include your key words. The perfect places for this type of control include your shop announcements, profiles on social networks, blog content, your web site content and more!

  • Domain names: when deciding on domain names, it is always good to use your key words and be targeted. For example: using www.YourName.com is not nearly as useful as using www.YourName'sPaintedGourds.com. Don't be afraid of having several domain names that point to your one web site. www.YourName'sPaintedGlassware.com could also be used and pointed to your site that also sells painted gourds.

  • Alt tags: these are the bits of information you see when you mouse over an image. If you are creating your own html or using a program like Dreamweaver, you can add these. They become important bits of key words for your SEO.

  • H1 and H2 headers: if you are creating your own html or using a program like Dreamweaver, you can be sure these have your key words, such as product type, name of shop, etc... If you are using online templates, the larger fonts are likely these tags so be aware of your header content.

  • Page titles: this is the title that shows at the tippy top of your browser. The page title is created when you create a web page. You may not have control over that when using an online template but some use your headers as the page titles too.

  • Meta content: meta tags and meta descriptions are placed in the code, so if you do not create your own html, these are not accessible to you. Some argue that meta content is not even relevant anymore, however, they can add to your success in getting your key words out there.

  • Frequent, new or changed content: this is important -- just as you see your blog views fluctuate when you post and when you do not post, so it is for all of your online content. Update what you have online, whether it is profiles, shop announcements, or bios, and update them on a regular schedule.

  • Pepper the Internet with YOU: I can't say this enough: if you are serious about SEO, then utilize everywhere you can place content. Other than your shop announcements, profiles, and social networks, you could also add web pages on sites that offer free web pages, as well as write and place articles. I will expand on this topic soon as it is important!

This is not a lot to maintain if you are organized. I suggest that once you do your initial SEO enhancements, make a list of locations of all your online content. Then, you can schedule your updates ongoing. Changes to content do not have to be huge. They just have to be done!

Updates to Topic~

Nicolette Tallmadge had such a great and important comment that I wanted to post it here in the article:

It's also important to remember that optimizing your page titles account for about 90% of your SEO value.

Doing all of the other stuff also helps, but if you had to pick one thing to do, you should definitely optimize all of your page titles. Also, if you're blogging, don't forget to optimize your blog titles and avoid using vague "mystery meat" titles that don't tell search engines (and your readers) what your post is all about.

Finally, you also want to make sure that you're optimizing your site for keywords that people are actually looking for. So do some basic keyword research to see what people are looking for online so you can optimize your blog and website accordingly.

(Thank you for that great advice, Nicolette!)

MatW adds an important issue about multiple domain names:

You mention "Don't be afraid of having several domain names that point to your one web site."Whilst true, these alternate domains must be setup correctly and point to your main site using 301 redirects otherwise you will actally damage your search engine ranking by making it seems as if you have many sites with duplicated content. Also, without 301 redirects, your site's ranking will be diluted between those domains, rather than focused on just one.

(MatW - Thank you for expanding upon this topic with such great wisdom. This is a complex subject that goes deeper and deeper.)

10 comments:

  1. Great advice...

    It's also important to remember that optimizing your page titles account for about 90% of your SEO value. Doing all of the other stuff also helps, but if you had to pick one thing to do, you should definitely optimize all of your page titles.

    Also, if you're blogging, don't forget to optimize your blog titles and avoid using vague "mystery meat" titles that don't tell search engines (and your readers) what your post is all about.

    Finally, you also want to make sure that you're optimizing your site for keywords that people are actually looking for. So do some basic keyword research to see what people are looking for online so you can optimize your blog and website accordingly.

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  2. Nicolette - excellent advice and clairifcation! Thank you for chiming in.

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  3. Good article. :)

    One point though. You mention "Don't be afraid of having several domain names that point to your one web site.".

    Whilst true, these alternate domains must be setup correctly and point to your main site using 301 redirects otherwise you will actally damage your search engine ranking by making it seems as if you have many sites with duplicated content. Also, without 301 redirects, your site's ranking will be diluted between those domains, rather than focused on just one.

    Mat

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  4. Mat, that is an excellent point and makes us basic users aware of the complexity of the subject. Thanks for adding to the discussion!

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  5. Great post, one that I will come back to read again and again. I mentioned it in my blog today.

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  6. Wow, thanks for the inclusion Linda! To be honest, SEO is such a vast field I'm still very much a learner, but glad I could help. :)

    For anyone interested in getting some feedback about the SEO-ness (!) of their site, I've found a great resource to be hubspot's (free) website grader - http://website.grader.com/
    It's not a exact science, but it does give you a fair idea of how "search engine friendly" your site is.

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  7. 3 Peeps Designs - I appreciate you blogging with Indie CEO!

    MatW - another great resource. I am all about free resources and am off to try my own sites on it! Check back!

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  8. Thank you for this article, Linda. It's a great help to me.

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  9. Thank you for the great tips. I am working to fill my ArtFire studio, so this was great timing. I would have never thought to include my studio name when I save files before I upload them!! StudioJRU

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  10. Wow so much good stuff Linda. I will keep this and come back to many more times.
    Christine
    Pillowthrowdecor

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