Search Engine Optimization: SEO Tips for Small Business - Page 2

By James A. Martin | Posted September 29, 2009

The Elements of SEO

There are many tactics for boosting a Web page’s presence in search engine rankings. A few basic strategies include:

Use your keyword(s) in your title tags. Every Web page has a title, which is displayed at the top of the browser when you’re viewing that page. The title tag is also shown in search engine results. It’s the linked title on which users click to visit a Web site page they find in the results pages for a query. And it’s arguably the most important place to use your chosen keywords.

A page’s title tag is key to helping Google know what the page is about, said Adam Lasnik, Google’s search evangelist. Ideally, a title tag should not just include your business’s name, but one or more additional descriptors—things that people might actually search for.

“If you’re an Italian restaurant, an ineffective title tag would just be the name of your restaurant,” Lasnik said. “A better title might include your restaurant’s name, plus something like ‘serving late-night pasta in the greater Mountain View area.’”

In addition, it helps to use your chosen keywords in your Web page’s headline (known in HTML as an h1 tag) and/or subhead (the h2 tag). You should also use the keyword several times in the body copy of a Web page. For best results, optimize each Web page on your site around one specific keyword or phrase. The more specific your keyword, the less competition you’re likely to have for it in Google search results.

Get relevant, high-profile Web sites to link to your site. Among the factors search engines take into account when ranking your pages for relevancy are the external sites that link to your pages. Having lots of highly-trafficked Web sites that are relevant to what you do or sell tells Google you’re a legitimate site, and that’s bound to boost your findability factor in search queries.

Example: On the Gibson Web site, the leading guitar manufacturer has posted some of John W. Tuggle’s tutorial videos along with links to his Web site and YouTube channel.

Gibson is a respected guitar maker with a large, popular, and trusted Web site. So the search engines are likely to consider the Gibson site as highly relevant to Tuggle’s Learning Guitar Now site. These factors make the Gibson site’s links to Tuggle’s site extremely valuable, both in terms of his SEO efforts and in driving targeted visitors—people interested in guitars—to his site, Tuggle said.

Minimize Flash. Search engines have traditionally had difficulty indexing Web content that isn’t in text, such as Flash animations, photographs, video and Javascript.

Google is continually improving its efforts to index non-text Web site content, said Lasnik. Still, in order to direct the largest amount of targeted traffic to your site, you should strive to put the majority of your most important information in text so the search engines can easily find it, he said.

Also, keep in mind that people are increasingly performing searches in mobile browsers on their iPhones, BlackBerrys, and other smart phones. Most smart phone browsers can’t display Flash animations. So while smart phone users might find your site, they won’t get its full impact.

Start blogging. In most cases, blogs have a simple structure (meaning little if any Flash and other non-search-friendly content), are updated often and, when well written, have lots of links on other sites pointing to it.

“Blogs are literally built to attract search engine crawlers and spiders,” writes Rebecca Lieb in The Truth About Search Engine Optimization. “Their architecture and design are structured for clear navigation, with every page set up to link back to other primary pages. It is no surprise that in recent years, many successful and profitable publishers have built editorial products entirely on commercial blog platforms.”

Don’t Forget Your Readers

While there’s a great deal of science behind SEO, making your efforts completely transparent to your site visitors is essential. That’s where the art comes in.

Ultimately, the ideal is to create great Web content first, with SEO a secondary though important consideration. When you regularly create compelling Web content, you’ll soon find that other sites are linking to it. You’ll become part of the online conversation, with mentions in blogs and in the mainstream media. You’ll generate that ever-elusive thing called “buzz.”

Conversely, if you make SEO a priority over your site’s visitors, your content will seem “fishy and unnatural,” said Lasnik. And that’s a sure turn-off to potential customers." However, he added,"if your Web content is good for your audience, it will be good for Google."

James A. Martin is the co-author of Getting Organized in the Google Era. He writes about SEO and helps businesses optimize their sites for search engines.

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