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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is important so people can find your Website. The information on this page gives an in-depth look into how you can optimize your pages for ultimate findability.

What is Findability?

The practice of building Websites that enable users to find the Websites they seek; find content within Websites; and rediscover valuable content they’d found.

What Components Make a Website. Findable?

SEO Findability

Page Title

  • The page title is the single most important on-page SEO factor. It's rare to rank highly for a primary term (2-3 words) without that term being part of the page title.
  • Brand your traffic: Use the title of your site or brand at the beginning or end of every title tag to help searchers know where they're going and to increase return visits.
  • Limit length to 66 characters (including spaces) or less.
  • Incorporate keyword phrases: It’s critical that whatever your keyword research shows as being the most valuable for capturing searches gets prominently included in your title tag. It doesn't have to be the first words, but it should be the semantic and logical center of attention.
  • Use a divider: When splitting up the brand from the descriptive, it is good to use the "|" symbol (aka the pipe bar).
  • Target searcher intent: When you're writing titles for web pages, keep in mind the search terms your audience employed to reach your site.
  • Repeat in the headline: Re-using the title tag of each page as the h1 header tag can be valuable from both a keyword targeting standpoint and a user experience improvement.

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Meta Description

  • The meta description is the only meta tag that still has relevance.
  • Three primary uses:
    1.) To describe the content of the page accurately and succinctly
    2.) To serve as a short, text "advertisement" to click on your results in the search results
    3.) To display targeted keywords, not for ranking purposes, but to indicate the content to searchers.
  • Keep the description to 150 characters (including spaces) or less (Google’s character limit for displaying the description in search results).

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Content

  • The higher your content is on a given page the more it counts for Google.
  • Use the same keyword relationship in title, body, header tags (h1, h2...), and meta description.
  • Write your page copy with humans in mind. Yes, you need keywords in the text, but don't stuff each page like a Thanksgiving turkey. Keep it readable.
  • Create content beyond product information and company detail. This includes articles, tutorials and resources applicable to the specific industry.
  • Amount of content on a page doesn't really matter anymore, as long as there are keywords that are connected with description and title, and that it's top-notch quality content.
  • Use organized lists for repetitive keywords on a page. Most SEO experts agree by now that “keyword density” is not a major positive ranking factor—mentioning your keywords 20 times instead of 5 will not make you rank better in Google. If you really need to use the same words over and over, use an unordered or ordered list. Google allows repetition in lists without penalizing you.
  • Do clearly define headlines and subheaders with header tags (h1, h2…).
  • Use your keywords as anchor text when linking internally. Anchor text helps tells spiders what the linked-to page is about. Links that say "click here" do nothing for your search engine visibility.
  • External links should point to high-quality Websites only.
  • Always use alt and title tags for images (for image search only).

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Information Architecture

  • Global links (main links) will make or break a site. Make sure they are the most important pages with content for users.
  • Make SEO-friendly URLs. Use keywords in your URLs and file names, such as yourdomain.com/red-widgets.phpl. Use hyphens in URLs and file names, not underscores. Hyphens are treated as a "space," while underscores are not.
  • Google looks for the most visited links on your site. Make them accessible such as on a home page or a top-level page.
  • Include a site map page to help spiders find all the important pages on your site and understand your site's hierarchy. This is especially helpful if your site has a hard-to-crawl navigation menu. If your site is large, make several site map pages. Keep each one to less than 100 links.

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SEO Don'ts

  • Don’t duplicate page titles. When every page has the same title how is the user supposed to find out the differences? Google thinks so, too.
  • Don’t use excessive pagination. Most people don’t want to click 3, 5, 10 pages into your site just to see some content. You can lose a large part of your audience with each click. Also, those who only scan the page will leave instantly.
  • Don’t rely on meta keywords. The meta keyword tag is a relic of the dark past of the pre-Google era. Unfortunately webmasters still assume that you need dozens of keywords in there. You can skip the tag altogether.
  • Don't make your Website not crawlable. This can result from an incorrect robots.txt file, having session IDs or too many variables in your URLs, using a convoluted navigation menu that spiders can't (or won't) follow, or developing an all-Flash, all-graphic, or all-AJAX site.
  • Don't ignore usability. Things like proper site structure, logical navigation, descriptive link text, etc., are good for both users and search engine spiders.
  • Don't hide text on any page. Google thinks it is spam.
  • Don’t change URLs once set. If you have to change URLs, move them with a “301 permanently moved” redirect.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When should a site be optimized?
A: Ideally, these measures should be built into your site as it is being developed. However, if you have an existing site, the sooner you get your site optimized, the quicker Google will crawl your site.

Q: How long does it take to see my site in Google’s search results?
A: It usually takes several months before you see results.

Q: If I want to save money, can I invest in Google AdWords instead of optimizing my site?
A: The primary reason we recommend optimization of your site before investing in pay-per-click advertising is to improve the ranking of your Website. in organic—or natural—search results, which could help you avoid having to pay for any clicks into your Website.

It’s also important to note that Google AdWords assigns your Website. a Quality Score when you sign up for the program, based on the relevance of your ads and keywords to the content on your Website. This Quality Score affects the cost and placement of your ad campaigns. The higher your Quality Score, the less you will pay for each click, and the better your chances of placing higher in the list of ads. If your site has not been optimized prior to signing up for AdWords, you will end up spending more money on your ads in the long run.

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