Rapid Fire SEO List
Here is a quick list of some major factors that go into search engine rankings:
Links to Your Site
The more popular and relevant sites that link to yours, the better.
Age of Domain Name
Very new sites are penalized.
How many of your chosen keywords do you use on relevant pages.
Number of Pages
Bigger sites are seen as more of a resource.
Use of H1 Tags
Use H1, H2, tags when using your keywords and phrases.
Use of a Sitemap
Make sure your sitemap links to every page on your site.
Your ranking is effected by how general or popular the keywords you are going for are.
Make sure you use keywords in Meta tags, Alt Tags, Title Tags, Page Names, etc.
Use a different Title on every web page you have.
Changing content often will bring back traffic, more traffic helps the cause.
Number of Visitors
The number of unique visitors you have to your site will help your ranking.
Ease for Search Engine Spiders
Search engine spiders have a hard time navigating through complicated URLs, containing question marks, etc.
Landing Pages for SEO
Landing pages, are a neglected powerhouse for optimizing your website for search engines.
Imagine you have a total of 10 products and services your company sells. If you try to use all those keywords and keyphrases on your homepage, they will be watered-down compared to what they could be.
Don't think of a landing page as just a page for each product or service. Think of it as an opportunity to customize each page, specifically for that product or service.
Don't just make the content of the page keyword or keyphrase dense. Spend the same time on these pages, as you did the homepage. So, custom tailor the title, alt tags, meta tags, etc. for those pages. Each page of your site is a potential entry page from search engines.
These landing pages can often times bring in just as much, or more, traffic as your homepage.
We recommend that you spend just as much time on your landing pages, as you do your homepage. Your work will be rewarded.
Choosing A Design Firm
Choosing a Web Designer or Print Designer can be intimidating, but here are some tips to make the choice go smoother.
Survey the web design agency's website. If it doesn't look appealing and highly-professional, it's very doubtful that yours will when they design it.
Ask them how long have they been in business. Look for companies that have been in business for at least 2 years.
Take a thorough look at their portfolio. Are the designs consistently professional? Does the portfolio show diversity?
What company model is it? We don't recommend a designer still in high school, because of the lack of industry experience and knowledge. On the other hand, we also don't recommend design firms with a full-time staff. A firm with a full-time staff will typically charge 10 times or more than that of the firms that use contractors instead.
Which brings us to the type we do recommend. That is, design firms that only hire developers for short-term work on a project. With firms that use contractors, you typically are only paying for the work performed.
Can they provide references? A good design firm should be able to give you a fair amount of client references.
How is their client list? Do they have a decent number of clients? Are some of the clients well-known?
Personality. How well do your e-mail or phone communications go with the design firm? Whether they are easy-going and friendly, or hurried and pushy. Take in mind that you will be communicating with them a lot, so it's good to find a company that gels with your personality.
High-pressure? This can be a personal preference, but I don't care much for high-pressure sales tactics. If you are getting pressured into making a decision, I would recommend taking that as a warning sign.
Response time. Some design firms have a lighting-fast response time for not only new business inquiries, but also urgent fixes. We all get busy and buried in work sometimes, but look for a consistently fast response time. Namely, a response the same day or better, instead of waiting two weeks for a response every time.
Ask questions. When in doubt ask questions. Try to weed out the important, from the unimportant. The true from the false. We feel that all big decisions are worth researching first.
We ARE a design firm, so you might consider us biased. But, we have built our business on the premise that we prefer to treat our clients, the same way we want to be treated when we are a customer.
Search Engine Optimization
One question we get asked a lot is, what does it take to get a particular site into the top 10 of a search engine, like Google. This isn't meant to be a ground-breaking guide, but more a bit of help to those just getting started.
So, here are the factors that go into a site's search engine ranking, in no particular order.
Quality Content - The more resourceful your site is, the more visitors you will end up with. Likewise, the more the content changes (good characteristic to have) the more visitors will keep coming back to your site.
And more importantly, the more frequently you change the content on your site, the more frequently the search engine spider (a program that engines like Google use to periodically check websites to gather information for the purposes of engine rank) will come back and visit, which is good!
Keyword Relevance - Simply meant, if your site is on dog food bowls ... how much does the text on your site, discuss things that have to do with dog food bowls (ie. dogs, bowls, food, thirty dogs, etc)? Google not only looks for the term "dog food bowls" on your site, but the fore mentioned variations on the term. You'll want at least a few paragraphs of keyword rich text on your homepage.
Popularity - A huge factor in your search engine ranking, is how many other sites link back to yours.
Typically, you want sites to link back to your with your company name, and your main keyword as the link. Like, John Bee's Dog Food Bowls.
Quantity is important, but so is the popularity of the site linking to you, and the industry. So, a link from Purina Dog Chow to your site, would be VERY, VERY good.
An effective, but time-consuming way to get an edge over some of your competitors, is to trade links with other websites on the internet. This process is called "link exchange", "link exchanging", "reciprocal links", "reciprocal linking", etc. It's too much information to cover here, but we recommend reading up on that topic.
Page Optimization - This is, how well you've used keywords on your pages. Did you use your keywords in your title tag? Did you add meta tags? Did you add keywords to all your ALT (alternate image) tags? You also need to optimize your internal links. You want to link to pages within your site with your top keywords.
Instead of linking this way ...
Click here for dog food bowls.
Learn more about which dog food bowls are right for your dog.
Obviously, this is more about the "guts" of the web page. Most of these optimizations will not affect your visitor's experience, at least not negatively. Pay special attention to the homepage.
Use of Header Tags - Do use header tags ( H1 .. H2 ... H3 .. etc) for your header text. Most sites have a short word or phrase near the top of each page, so you know which page you are on (Example: Welcome, About Us, Contact Us, etc). Not only use H1 tags for this part of the page, but periodically change these slightly and pepper them with a keyword or two. Instead of "About Us" try "About Our Dog Food Bowls" or "About Our Dog Food Bowl Company"
Some Things Not To Do - (1) Do not use a company or software that uses a program that automatically submits your site to many search engines at once. Search engines don't look kindly to those programs, so that can actually get your site banned from some search engines. (2) Do not copy another site's text and use it as your own. Either heavily paraphrase or cite sources as needed. (3) Avoid using Flash or an image as a splash page for a website. A search engine spider will visit your site, and only see a call to a flash file or an image. It typically cannot read the contents of either. Search engine spiders love to see paragraphs of keyword dense text, much more.
Focus In On Your Keywords - Let's say you are an oil painter. Don't shoot for "art" as your keyword, it's much too general. Too much competition. You want your site to be a big fish in a small pond, not the other way around. Try being more specific. Consider terms such as "Atlanta Georgia Oil Painter", "Georgia Landscape Oil Paintings", etc.
Be Patient - Unless you update your site frequently, Google (and other search engines) will only visit your site about every 4 weeks or so.
The More Pages The Better - Google, Yahoo, and others put more worth in sites that have more pages. So, a site with 10 pages, will most likely rank lower than a site with 100 pages, and a site with 100 pages will rank lower than one with 1,000.
Number of Visitors - One last factor to note is that the number of visitors you get daily and/or monthly can affect your search engine ranking. Do you get 10 visitors a month, or 100,000 per day? Most of the top engines take this into account.
Provide A Sitemap - A sitemap is a page that contains links to every page, or, at worst, every major section on your website. It's like a bird's eye view of your site. Not only is it helpful to your visitors, but the search engine spiders love to see sitemaps. It also ensures that all your pages are linked to.
Pages that are not linked to from anywhere else on the internet or your site, will probably not appear in search engines.
In conclusion, there is not just ONE right thing to do, to get a high search engine rank. These factors frequently change. There is a constant battle between webmasters trying to get an edge above their competition and search engines changing the way they rank sites, in an effort to be as fair an accurate as possible.
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