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Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of getting higher rankings for your web site on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo without paying for ads. Since the internet is so vast, the search engines have programs (“crawlers”) that will read your web site code to determine how relevant it is to the searcher in comparison to other web sites available. This is your web site ranking. If you have a web site rich in content and proper SEO, your site will rank higher and get more traffic, ultimately leading to more business.

Bad vs. Good SEO

It is important to note that not all SEO techniques are created equal. “Black Hat SEO,” also known as spam, will earn you rankings quickly but will eventually get you penalized or barred from search engines all together.

Bad "Black Hat" SEO Techniques To Avoid:

Keyword Stuffing – Adding irrelevant keywords to your source code (to view this code, right click anywhere on a website and click “view source;” keywords will be listed near the top).

Invisible Text – It may look like a normal page, but if you click and drag your mouse across it, hidden text will appear that is the same color as the background.

an example of hidden text on a web site

Click and drag above this text for an example.

Plagiarism – Copying and pasting text from high ranking web sites in attempt to leech off of their traffic. This can even include using a variation of your competitors' name in your text to come up when searchers are looking for them.

Cross Linking – When the owner of multiple web sites links them all together to boost their rankings. All of the links on your page should be relevant to your industry.

Irrelevant Content – For example, if you have a pet store web site and you start a blog about animal care and then randomly blog about a popular topic or celebrity that gets a lot of searches but has nothing to do with your site.

Content for Search Engines, Not People – When you see a long list of words that don’t flow smoothly in a sentence, separated by commas. They could be a list of links or just keywords that don’t sound like something you would say in conversation.

Poor Use of Alt Tags – An “alt tag” is an alternative text description of an image. If the image is broken or missing, viewers can still read what would have been there. It is also used for auditory programs that read websites to the blind. Alt tags also help Google Images find your content. Since programs can’t “look” at your pictures, they need that text description in order to “see”. Filling your alt tags with useless keywords or using transparent images can hurt your rankings.

Good SEO Practices:

Build Functional Web Sites - Test your links to make sure they all work. There is nothing more frustrating than a site with "under construction" pages. If it isn't finished, don't put it on the web until it is.

Meta Tags – A meta tag is a piece of your web site code that search engines use to find you. Set up your meta tags with keywords (only relevant ones, keeping the number down because some search engines will count it against you if you have too many).
Set up your meta tags in your html code with a description of each page. Descriptions must be relevant and unique to all of the individual pages of your site. This is the description that shows up for your customers when they are searching for you.

Titles - Set up unique and descriptive titles on each page of the site.

Include Information - Write text on your site that is informative and something that a user may search out. Even if you are an ecommerce site, it may be good to include at least one page of information that people may look for. For example, we've created a site for a florist and included a page about the different meanings of flowers, i.e., red roses=love, etc. Even though it isn't specifically about their business operations, it's informative and concerns their industry.

Use Descriptive File Names – Don’t use generic file names such as “001.jpg.” When possible, use descriptive file names: “Geared Media Storefront.jpg.”

Include Descriptive Headings – Headings not only break up your content into easy to read paragraphs; they also tell search engines about the content of your page.

Include an Alt Tag with a Relevant Description of Every Image

Include Relevant Links – Link to other pages with the same topics of interest as you. This shows that you have an informative web site that is rich in sources of information. Be mindful of the links you choose. A .org link is in better standing than a .com. Linking to sites with good rankings will also improve yours, and vice versa.

Create a Robots File on The Root Directory of the Server – This tells the search engines that it is ok to crawl your site. Without it, you could be overlooked.

Create A Site Map - Create a site map on the root directory of the server (this can either be a text file encoded as utf-8, an xml file, or a syndication feed), link it to your robots file, and validate it. This tells the search engines that there is more to your site than just a home page.

Submit Your Site Map and Robots File to Search Engines to Crawl – This directs the search engines where to go to look for your page. Keep in mind that this can take up to a week.

Input Google's Site Verification Code Into Your Index File – Then you can then log into Google to get an overview of how Google views your site.

Submit Your Site to All Major Search Engines to Crawl - This must be done individually and manually in order to not get thrown out. Do not trust sites that offer to submit you to 50+ search engines. Trust the search engines that you know people use.

Use Social Media – Make a page on Facebook, Twitter, Linked in & Merchant Circle. Social Media is a great way to get the word out about what you do and gain a following from current and potential customers that genuinely want to know about your promotions.

Do Not Expect Immediate Top Search Results - The browsers need time to crawl your site. Once the browsers have discovered you, it may take a few months to get up to the front page of popular search engines depending on your traffic and content. However, if you do not take these steps, it is not likely that you will appear on the first few pages of the search at all. Your other option is pay per click advertising.

Geared Media offers an SEO service where we can set up "Good SEO" for your site. Please contact us for more information.

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