28 April 2009

Three Quick SEO Tips for your Website

For all the SEO experts out there reading this, the information in this post will be old news.
However, if you are new to the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) game keep reading...

To this day it never ceases to amaze me how many people I know have their own website, or are trying to sell their product online. Of course when I tell them what I do for Semantic Discovery they inevitably respond with the following question... "Can you help me fix my website?" After a brief moment of thinking to myself "sure I can, just show me the moneeeey!", then I come to my senses and do what most friends do and respond "sure, let me take a quick look at your site and I can give you a few pointers." So I have decided to share these pointers in our blog so when friends ask for advice, or clients new to SEO wonder where to start improving their website, I can simply say "Hey, check out my blog post!"

Research your keyword search phrases

Before you can start making SEO improvements to website, you will need to know what keyword search phrases to target first. If you have already researched your keywords, great! If not, there are many tools you can use to do this. Semantic Discovery offers our Keyword Crawler keyword research tool to help you find new keyword search phrases by crawling your competitor websites, or by crawling the top pages on the internet for targeted keywords. Once you have a good list of keywords, look them up to see how much traffic your chosen keywords are getting, and then narrow your list to keyword variations that get search traffic, but are not highly competitive. There are many tools out there you can use to find search traffic for keywords, however Google offers free tools for this type of research with a Google Adwords account. If you do not have a Google Adwords account, I would also suggest that you sign-up for an account even if you do not plan on creating an Adwords campaign.

Now that you have researched and selected your keyword search phrase you are a ready to start making SEO improvements to your site.

Tip #1: Optimize your Page Titles

This is probably the easiest and most effective way to quickly optimize your website. Make sure that each one of your web pages has a descriptive title that includes the keyword search phrase relevant to page content. Be sure your title tags are between 50-80 characters long (including spaces). Be careful, if you make the titles too long you will risk losing important keywords when the search engines trim the end of long page titles. Even though optimizing page titles is one of the easiest and well known SEO tip, so many websites out there still overlook this. Don't believe me? Just browse the internet and you will quickly find many websites with their home page title is "some site name - home". What a waste!

Tip #2: Optimize your Web Page Content

This tip involves optimizing multiple aspects of your page content to include your relevant keyword search phrases. While making these changes, keep in mind that first and foremost your web pages should contain relevant information that will convert website visitors into buyers of your products or services. Consider the following changes to your website pages:
  • Headings - Use multiple heading tags (H1,H2...) to bring emphasis to your relevant keyword search phrases.
  • Page Copy - Use relevant keyword search phrases in the page copy. Aim for a 4-7% saturation. Anything less than a 4% saturation and the search engines may not find the keywords relevant to the page; but anything more a 7% saturation and the search engines may penalize the page for unnatural keyword stuffing.
  • Link Text - Use relevant keywords search phrases in any "link text" linking to or from the page. Links in the body of your pages should be linking to other relevant pages or information.
  • Image or "Alt" Text - Use relevant keyword search phrases in all image "Alt" text to
    Publish Post
    appropriately describe the images. Keep the "Alt" text to a brief sentence or two, and make sure it is relevant to the rest of page. Leaving the "Alt" text blank is a common missed opportunity to not only improve your web page optimization, but to improve your website's accessibility to visitors with disabilities.
  • Meta Description - Even though the meta description is not viewable on the page, search engines will often the meta description as the snippet to describe your page. Keep the meta description brief and to the point (around 150 characters or about 25 words), and use relevant keywords near the start of the description. Just like titles, search engines will trim the end meta descriptions. Remember... the meta description is often the first thing people will read about your site when using a search engine, so it should entice potential visitors to click on your link!
  • Use Semantically Related Keywords - Search engines are getting smarter at finding relevant pages, therefore you need to be smarter at making your pages more relevant. For instance let's say your keyword is "Car", you can use other semantically related keywords such as automobile, vehicle, SUV, sedan, Ford, etc. in your content. Search engines will see these as related terms and give more relevance to the page. And since the word "car" is not repeated a dozen times throughout the page in a potentially unnatural way, this will also make the page more enjoyable for your visitors to read.

Tip #3: Optimize your URL Extensions

This tip may be a bit harder to implement depending on the size and complexity of your site. But if you can do this, using keywords search phrases in your URL extensions that are relevant to the website page will help your SEO efforts. For example, lets say you are selling watches online and your current URL extension is www.watches.com/products/used.html. However, are targeting the keyword search phrase "cheap used watches." Bam! Change your URL extension to www.watches.com/products/cheap-used-watches.html.
NOTE: If the page URL that your are changing already exists on your website, be sure to create a "301 Redirect" so that the search engines and external links know how to find the new and improved optimized URL.

Be Patient & Monitor your Results!

It takes time for the Search Engines to pick up your changes, so be patient. Monitor keyword search phrase rankings using Semantic Discovery's Site Visibility search engine rank report. Simply set-up a report to take snapshot of your current Google search result ranks for each of your keyword search phrases. Then re-run the Site Visibility report weekly to monitor your keyword search rank improvements!