NOTE: if you don’t know what some of these terms mean, or you need more help, please post in the comments section! I’ll help you!
Here is an overview and plain-English explanation of the nine most important things you can do — right away — to help people find your website. SEO is not brain surgery, but it does take some specific strategies. Read on to learn more about how you (yes, you!) can help your website on its way to a #1 Google ranking!
1. Title tags. (This is a <h2> tag)
Are your title tags reflective of what your business does? In addition to the name of your business, does it have descriptive text or words that people would be searching for when they are looking for you? Each page can have a different title tag that should be relevant to its content. Does each of your pages have its own unique descriptive title? Or do they just say “home” or “about” or “contact”?
2. Fresh content.
How long has it been since the content on your home page—or any page on your site—has changed? Search engines like sites with lots of new, frequently changing content. A couple of easy ways to achieve this: embed a Facebook or Twitter feed on your home page, or create a blog on your site.
3. Google Places.
Have you submitted your business to the Google Local directory? This is a great way to get exposure because Google will display your business in local search results as a “place.” It’s free! Go to http://www.google.com/places/ to sign up.
4. Google webmaster tools.
Do you have a Google webmaster tools account? This allows you to create a sitemap of your site that you can submit to Google, to ensure that all your pages are being “seen” by the search engines. Learn more at www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
5. Metatags and site description.
Some people will tell you these aren’t important anymore, but they are. And they’re so easy to implement, why not do it? Metatags are keywords that are related to your site’s content, what your company does, the services you offer. A site description is what appears underneath your URL in Google search results. This may be the information that helps someone decide to visit your website or not, so it’s very important.
6. Incoming and Outgoing Links.
Do you have links to other websites on your site? More importantly, are other websites linking to YOUR website? When lots of other sites link to your site, this tells Google that your site is an authority, that you have valuable content. You can start the process by making sure your Facebook, Twitter, linkedin, etc. pages all have links to your website. You can also be part of membership sites such as chambers of commerce, shelter directories, etc. The best way is to have people and companies link to your site in their blogs, social media and from their own websites.
7. Anchor text.
You see a lot of links on sites saying “to learn more information, click here.” And the “click here” is a hyperlink to a website or other content with more information. What that is telling a search engine, though, is that the content at the other end of that link is related to the words “click here.”
That’s pretty useless for most businesses. But what if you put some text on your site that says “low-cost spay/neuter services” and those three words are hyperlinked to your site? Now, THAT is valuable to you, because that’s what your website is about. If that appears on six or seven websites, Google starts to think, “Hey, that site must be a pretty reputable source of information on low-cost spay/neuter services. We’ll push that site up in the rankings.” BiNGO!
Make sure if other sites link to yours, they use relevant, meaningful text as part of that link.
8. Your URL (your domain name or website address).
Does your URL tell people what you do? If you are a lawyer, does your URL include the word “law” or “attorney”? Your URL is the fastest way people can tell what you do. Make it short, sensible and relevant. A great example is a law firm in my town called Atkins & Markoff. Many customers won’t remember that name, or how to spell it. But the firm’s URL is oklahomafamilylawcenter.com, Oklahoma criminallawcenter.com and various others—these truly reflect what they do and they are great for SEO.
9. Use good words.
The text that appears on your site—particularly on your home page—is very important. Google looks through your site to see what words you’re using on your site, and when people search for those words, it determines if your site is a good match.
So if your website is about animal rescue and adoption, think about what search terms people will put in a search engine when they’re looking for your services, and make sure those words are prominent on your website. The titles and <h1> tags on your pages are the most important of all.
This is one reason that splash pages, welcome pages and sites created with Flash put your business at a serious disadvantage with search engines—there’s no content for them to see! (search engines can’t see pictures, they can only see words)
Putting words as pictures won’t help, either:
You can do all this stuff, and it will help a LOT. The most important thing that influences your site’s performance in search engines is quality and quantity of content. There’s no shortcut and no way to fake that!
Again, if you need help or if this is greek to you, post questions here! We’ll work through everything together!