What exactly is search engine optimization?

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In the past it’s been presented by some almost like it’s a “magical” inside, proprietary knowledge that SEO “experts” have that they can’t share. Well, it is inside knowledge that comes from years of studying and most of all, keeping up to date with Google guidelines, which are non-proprietary. At Ad Ventures, we research SEO and Google updates to it on an ongoing basis, sometimes daily, at the minimum on a weekly basis.

Can you get this information on your own?
Yes, if you have the developer resources, and time to research and test, test, test and then test some more like we have.

Good SEO techniques have evolved over the years and are comprised of many components. The most important thing to remember is to follow Google guidelines to the T. Google provides the overview; SEO experts such as Ad Ventures provide the “big picture” of what is needed, the testing resources, the web development for the framework of your site, and the senior copywriters for writing good metatag title, description and image alt tags.

  1. What does the phrase “search engine optimization” mean?

It means making your site visible to the search engines in a search-engine friendly way so that your site is included in search engine indexes, at the highest ranking possible. Almost every category of websites relies on website traffic, so if your site has good ranking for your most important keyword phrases, then people searching those keyword phrases will more easily find your site.

  1. What should good SEO include?

Website SEO – an overview

  • The keyword phrases you want to target (there are online sources where you can test the keyword phrases that are most commonly searched for your product or service in your area.)
  • Tableless CSS development (not HTML tables, which are not SEO friendly)
  • Keyword-rich H1 headlines (HTML headlines are best, but there are work-arounds for graphic, more aesthetic headlines)
  • Title metatagas – clearly written to be both “search engine friendly” and “human friendly”. The Title should reflect 90 – 100% of what the content of the page reflects.
  • Description metatags – clearly written to be both “search engine friendly” and “human friendly.” The description should reflect 85 – 100% of what the content of the page reflects.
  • Image alt tags which clearly describe the image and keywords that further describe the image
  • Error-free HTML code
  • W3C standards compliant
  • Keywords added into your site in the correct way (towards the top, no one keyword too heavy in keyword density, etc.)
  • Keywords specific to specific interior pages that are written for the benefit of the human reader, not so much the Google robots. Aim for getting high ranking for not only your home page, but also your interior pages.
  • Quality content: Google and other search engines favor a site that provides fresh, new quality content, content that is updated frequently. (This is one reason why we recommend a blog or news/tips section on websites that you can easily update internally.)

Local Listings

  • Make sure your site information is listed at multiple quality sites, i.e., http://www.superpages.com; http://www.local.com
  • Make sure your site information is listed the same way everywhere you list it (For example, our official corporate name is “Ad Ventures Marketing, Inc.” but our formal DBA company name that we list everywhere is “Ad Ventures Design & Marketing” for continuity.
  • Update the “old-fashioned” listings such as the Better Business Bureau. In your business you’re likely dealing with younger “Facebook” users as well as older “newspaper readers and BBB users.” So don’t forget the Better Business Bureau. It may take just a couple of updates to change your B+ rating to an A like it did for us.
  • Create local accounts with Yahoo, Bing and Google.

Competition Checks

  • Check out the “competition” to make sure there isn’t any cloaking of your site going on. Check them out in the BBB and Linked In , for example as well, to make sure another company hasn’t “borrowed’ your company name, or a similar version of it.
  • And another good way to check for competitors or “spammers” of your site, is to review the incoming link report that you can view via your Google and Yahoo webmasters accounts.

Webmaster Tools Account for monitoring and correcting

  • Yes, Webmaster tool accounts on Yahoo, Bing and Google are an important part of maintaining optimal SEO. A simple link name change can affect all your incoming links from outside websites, and instead of linking back to your site, the user gets linked to a 404 (page not found) blank bage.
  • Google now reports that they provide feedback on sites that receive penalties. (There are approximately 50 different penalties that Google issues for everything from duplicate content to hidden text.)
  • See how Google views your website and your keywords. For example, if you are linking a style-guide PDF to your site that contains the word “hex” 100 times, get a robots.txt block on that ASAP. Otherwise, Google will include that “hex” word as one of your top keywords, thus diminishing your more valuable keywords.
  • New features: Google provides load test tools and suggestions how to reduce your file size and load time. They have also included a tool that, with a click of your mouse, checks your site for any malware in less than 1 second.

Inbound linking

  • Search engines value high quantity of high quality links from other websites to your website. So don’t sign up for link farms, sign up for Better Business Bureau, and other organizations that provide free listing services.
  1. What SEO should NOT include

Believe it or not, there are SEO “experts’ who have been around for years who are still following gimmicky techniques that have potential to get your site penalized. Your short-term results may be good, but your long-term results as far as Google is concerned, not so good. Google, Bing and Yahoo continuously change their algorithms, so one day your site may appear on page 1, the next day it could drop to page 10.

Here are just a few of the “don’t do’s”:

(there are a variety of larger lists available on the web of what not to do with SEO)

  • Signing up to any link farms (this will achieve seach engine penalties, which will result in lost ranking.)
  • Hidden text
  • Resubmission of your site each month (simply not necessary)
  • Purchasing multiple domains that your host sets up as “alias” sites (this is considered duplicate content)
  1. After your site has launched, complete with good SEO, will you need SEO maintenance plan?

Yes, for approximately the first six months so your agency/development company can test and experiment with keywords on your interior pages (and home page if necessary.)
It is important that there is a watchful experienced eye overseeing the search engines to assure that they have properly indexed your new pages. A good development company will also make sure that the proper 301 permanent redirects are put in place on old URLs that have been renamed with new URLs and new keywords.

  1. Will you need an ongoing maintenance plan?

No, if you do not plan to do many updates, or your updates are confined to your content management section that you handle.
If you plan to make a lot of updates, it is recommended that you have a monthly or quarterly maintenance plan in place. For some sites that are large in size and do daily updates, a regularly daily maintenance plan is recommended.

Karen Skeens

Karen Skeens

Karen is a marketing consultant / writer / designer / strategist with 20 years of passionate dedication in digital agency and broadcast media work helping companies of all sizes grow.

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