If you’re a marketing director or website content manager, you might be wondering what SEO or Search Engine Optimization is all about and whether it’s “for real” or just another upcharge your agency or web development company is trying to pop on you to add more charges to your bill.
We’ll be honest. You don’t have to do SEO, but if you don’t you’re missing the “O” part of SEO – that is, your website will not be “optimized” for search engine. In other words, you’ll be on the worldwide web, but no one in the world will be able to find you.
Don’t think it matters? Take a look at this:
5 Cold Hard Facts:
- Searching for answers. 76% of internet users use a search engine for find local businesses.
- Google is still king. Links in the second position receive 10.1%. Links in the third position get 7.2%, and links in the fourth position get 4.8%. Links below fourth average under 2% of click-throughs.
- Google is king. Links in the top position of a Google search query page receive 18.2% of all click-through traffic.
- Google still rules. Google sends 90.6% of traffic. Yahoo! Sends 3.78%. Bing sends 3.72%. After that, no one else matters.
- Your website is in a worldwide haystack. Search engines don’t know a good site from bad the way you know a good site from bad. They rely mostly on relevance and importance. They look at your site like a good party. If a lot of people are coming and going, staying and commenting, the search engine will look at your site and rank it higher.
5 things you’re doing wrong.
- Use of iFrames. In some cases it makes sense to pull content directly from another site. For example, let’s say you wanted to pull a content stream from CNN.com. While they may offer an embed code you can copy and paste on your site to feature the streamed content, you won’t gain any SEO value for content hosted within iFrames.
- Ironic copy. Search engines are smart and they’re getting smarter all the time, but they don’t understand irony. If your headline says “Home to Georgia’s Best Peaches,” but the article is about a resort in Costa Rica that serves peaches from Georgia, the search engine will be confused.
- Content behind logins. Search engines cannot register to see your page or fill out online forms. If you have a registration barrier to content, a search engine will not be able to cross that barrier and will not know what you have on your site.
- Duplicating pages. Some Content Management Systems (CMS) will end up posting duplicate pages by default. Aside from confusing the search engines, having a site with loads of duplicate content can dramatically impact the perceived quality of a website.
- Hiding content in plain sight. Videos, graphics, and logos are important elements that keep your site interesting to users. However, putting all your content in a graphic (.jpg or .png) or in a video format, means that search engines cannot find it. Users might like it, but it’s invisible to search engines. Instead, try to provide as much content as possible in textual format.
5 things you’re doing right.
- Effective title tags. Okay, so we’ve all done a search online. We’re then presented with a page full of results. Within that page are short, abbreviated descriptions. As we said, short. You’ll notice that the description is cut off at the first 65-75 characters. So it’s best to convey that key information in those first 70 or so characters. Get to the point, quickly. Everyone appreciates it.
- Indexable content. Put your most important content in HTML. Flash, Java, images and video formats are not indexable by search engines. That does not mean you shouldn’t have those elements. It just means that the majority of your important content and keywords should be in an HTML text format.
- Video attracts viewers. Websites with videos are 53% more likely to rank on Google’s first page. While it is dangerous to put all your website’s content in a video, you can optimize the content of your video by putting a transcript on the same or other page. Your visitors may not read it but the search engine will.
- Keywords are key. Using keywords related to the topic of your site vastly improves your search engine scoring. Relevance is key to keywords, too. For example, “new cars” might be one of the most highly searched words on the internet, but sprinkling those words into your content will not increase your search engine score if you sell cakes. Before creating content for any site, Telegraph Creative starts with keyword research that identifies the most important keywords to make sure that we include those words in the content as part of the creative process.
- Correctly linking pages. Linking to pages within your site is the way you can tell Google which pages you deem most important. Generally, the more times a page is linked to the more authority that page is given by Google. Furthermore, internal linking provides you with the ability to provide topical relevance to the search engines. Whenever linking to other pages on your site, make sure to link with keywords or key phrases that are similar to the phrases you want to rank for in Google.