SEO and me, a love story Posted by Mischa S.

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Date: February 21, 2012

SEO Schmess-EO says your boss?  Bad boss!  Bad, bad boss!  Unless you intend to kidnap your customers and strap them down to a computer that only loads your web site, you should probably be doing this.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the following process:

1. Utilize analytics to see where your traffic is coming from

2. Describe the types of search terms you want people to find you with

3. (Re)write your content to include those terms

4. Utilize different techy methods of lending more weight to those specific terms

5. Utilize analytics to test what effect your changes have had

So, really pretty simple right?  This where you expect me to say, “WRONG!”….but, no that’s right.  It’s pretty simple.

Lets go through this in a little more detail.

1. Utilize analytics to see where your traffic is coming from

o   In Google Analytics, you can see what key terms people are finding your site on.  Use this as your baseline.  If there are terms in there that are ones you want to continue to be found under, make sure not to change your content in a way that omits that type of language.

2. Describe the types of search terms you want people to find you with

o   Now, describe more key term combinations until you have at least 3, but not more than 5.  Try to use at least 3 words in developing these key terms (e.g. "Large Combine Tractor Sales", "Worlds Best Chili Cheese Hot Dog".  NOTE: the more specific you are, the more likely you are to grab a key term that isn’t as competitive.  If you’re in a similar line of business that say overlaps in retail with Amazon.com, trying to compete directly will be a waste of time.  Try to hit a niche, that is still relevant to your business of course, but that doesn’t put you up against the big dogs.

3. (Re)write your content to include those terms.

o   Quick example:

o   “The best synthetic moisture-wicking fabric we've found for cool-weather activities. Fast-drying, it's our top pick for vigorous aerobic activities or for camping and travel. Antimicrobial Polartec® Power Dry® polyester is double-plaited to wick sweat away from your skin, while the pill-resistant exterior quickly disperses it, keeping you warm, dry and comfortable. Flatlock seams give you a smooth fit. Thumb loops keep sleeves down. Midweight fabric is our most versatile weight for warmth during a range of activities and temperatures. Imported. Machine wash and dry.” (credit: llbean.com)

o   Re-write it for ‘durable active wear’: “The best and most durablesynthetic moisture-wicking fabric we've found for cool-weather activities. Fast-drying and tough, it's our top pick for vigorous aerobic activitiesor for camping and travel. Antimicrobial Polartec® Power Dry® polyester is double-plaitedto wick sweat away from your skin and increase longevity, while the pill-resistant exterior quickly disperses it, keeping you warm, dry and comfortable. This is one of the strongestand long lastingshirts available.  Flatlock seams give you a smooth fit. Thumb loops keep sleeves down. Midweight fabric is our most versatile and durable active wearfor warmth during a range of activities and temperatures. Imported. Machine wash and dry.”

o   Quick notes on this: Don’t over use just the one term you want, as Google knows the synonyms for your words too.  Plus, it will read like a 5 year old wrote it.  Space out the words individually and try to group them together as well

4. Quick list of techy things to do to make the Search Engine Spiders (SES) happy little bugs:

o   Get your site’s name and URL onto other sites (not really techy I guess).

o   Don’t have a canned intro to every page.  The first few words on the page (in the body naturally) are the most important.  Make sure those include the keywords you want people to find you on.

o   Fill in your meta-tags.  Make them different for each section, each page is even better.

o   Do not make the first part of the title of your site always be “xyz.com – omg, we are so awesome – some page”.  If you’re dead set on having the site name in the title flip the ‘some page’ to the front.  Otherwise, don’t include it.

o   Use header (<h1>,<h2>,etc) tags to emphasize, but use only one <h1> per page.

o   All your images and links should have their alt and title tags filled in.

o   Careful with too much Ajax.  Some of those calls aren’t readable to SES.  If you’re unsure, don’t use it!

o   If you have a Flash menu and it’s not spiderable, ditch it.

o   Stay away from Spash pages.  Plus, they are annoying.

o   If the text in your anchor tag (link) is ‘click here’, you’re doing it wrong.  That doesn’t tell the spider what content is at the other end of the link.

o   Page names –

§  NO! ->Xyz.com/?pageid=390

§  YES! -> xyz.com/web_application_development/database_design(.html)

o   Choose www.xyz.com or xyz.com, but don’t allow both.  Forward one to the other.

o   Do a sitemap, but also do a sitemap.xml and a robots.txt.  If a specific portion of your site is more dynamic than others, tell the SES in your sitemap.xml file that I should check back more often.

5. So, now that we’ve made some changes to content and changes to techy stuff, now what?  Patience Daniel-san.  It takes a while for this stuff to propagate.  Also, the age of a domain matters too.  Once you make your changes, give it 6-10 weeks, then evaluate what has changed, if anything.

SEO is one of those nasty, feisty, snarly beasts that keeps morphing as engines and technology grow and change.  And, no, HTML 5 will not fix this.