An introduction to SEO—search engine optimization—and how it can help more customers find you.
A customer goes online and does a search for private investigations firms in his local area. Does your firm come up as one of the top results? If the answer is no, you may have just lost business. Surveys show that 76% of all consumers use search engines to find a business.
Fact: There are 20 billion searches per month in the U.S.
Fact: Google dominates searches with ~90% of sent traffic.
Fact: A #1 position in results gives ~18% of click throughs, #2 gives 10% and #3 gives 7%. It only goes down from there.
It pays to ensure that your site is optimized for search engines—the difference between coming up #1 and #10 in a search is substantial. The first step is to get a clear list of what search terms or key words you think are applicable to your site. What words will people type into the Google search bar?
You can’t optimize for everything, so start with the top 10 and follow the tips below to get your search engine optimization (SEO) kickstarted.
Search engines work by crawling the web and making note of the information on a page (also known as indexing). When a search term is entered, a search engine then looks at its index and ranks all pages based on importance and relevancy.
Writing for People: Importance Ratings
Importance is a rating that helps the search engine understand how good the content of your page is compared to all the other pages that may be applicable to the search term. One of the major signs that a page is important is the number of other pages that link to that page.
Trustworthy sites with good content tend to get a high number of links. Effectively, the search engine is saying, “Hmm…lots of people are referencing this page, so it must be pretty good.”
The most important thing you can do to encourage links is to have good, useful content that people will want to cite and share.
Optimizing for Machines: Relevancy Ratings
Relevancy is all about how closely your page matches the search phrase or keywords that your customer may be using. While Google doesn’t release much about their algorithm, SEO experts such as SEOmoz have tested the use of keywords and the effect of relevancy ratings. They recommend that if you want to optimize a webpage to improve relevancy ratings, strategically use the key words as follows:
1) at least once in the title.
2) at least 2-3 times in the body text
3) as descriptions of photos known as “alt-tags”
4) at least once in the page meta description tag
5) use the keyword in the URL
If you are a web content guru or a search engine specialist, you can probably achieve these tips on your on. But for the rest of us mere mortals, use them as a checklist for a discussion with your agency or webmaster. Think of this as the search engine saying, “ Wow, the search term is mentioned on this page a lot—and in very important places like the titles and picture descriptions…must be highly relevant.”
SEO: Write for people, optimize for machines
In summary, the key to optimizing your website for search is 4 steps:
1) Ensure you hire a good agency or webmaster that has some expertise in SEO.
2) Figure out the search terms for which you’d like to optimize.
3) Create content that will interest people and that others will want to link to and cite.
4) Ensure you follow the five-step checklist to optimize your relevancy ratings for your key words.