Ideally, search engine optimization should occur before creating a website. However, many of our clients come to us with pre-existing websites that were built without much thought given to SEO. In such cases, modifications to an existing site that does not appear anywhere in the search engines can be made and result in real improvements. The key is to analyze the website and modify it so that it is easier for the search engines to find. The more search engine friendly you can make your site, the better your chances of appearing in the search engines.
Which Search Engines Matter the Most?
There are really just two important search engines: Google and Bing. 97% of all searches in North America are conducted through these two search engines. What about Yahoo!? Yahoo! gets search results from Bing. AOL, Earthlink, and Comcast get their search results from Google.
What Does “Optimizing a Web Site” Mean?
To effectively optimize a web site means to structure a web site and create searchable content on each page of the site in such a way that the web pages are optimally positioned in the search engines and your site ranks at the top when someone searches for your business, services, or information. Google and Bing have to serve up relevant information from over a trillion indexed web pages. To do this, they look at essentially two things:
1. Text in the Website
- Where are the keywords on the web page? URLs, title tags, page headings, body text?
- How are the words formatted? Bold text, near the top or bottom of the page?
2. Links pointing to the web site.
- Are the keywords in the links pointing to the site?
- Where do the links to the site come from?
Search engines look at hundreds of criteria and change their rules regularly. However, most of the foundations of good search engine optimization remain constant.
Good Quality Design & Ease of Use are Important
It’s important to realize your web site acts as a window into your company. If it looks unprofessional, is hard to navigate, loads slowly, etc., no amount of SEO is going to help drive customers to your door. Visitors to an amateurish looking website that is not easy to use will click the “Back” button in a split second and potential sales will be lost.
Here’s a good experiment to try. Load five of your competitors in five separate tabs in a browser. Next, load your web site in a browser. How does your site compare? Would you buy from your site? If the answer is no, you may need to consider revamping your website along with your search engine optimization.
Social Media & SEO
Beyond keywords, links to your site, good quality content, and design, social media sharing on networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube impact a website’s rank and are becoming increasingly important.