Common Sense SEO Part 2 - Optimization12 Sep 2010
Optimizing your website’s content is a key step, however, to ensure you give your valuable content the best chance possible of drawing traffic from the web. In essence, this section is about maximizing your ROC – return on content. Using tools like WordPress is great because it streamlines your site’s overall code and does a lot of the optimizing for you. Everyone involved with SEO always talks about focusing on your meta keywords, that would have been valuable a year or two ago but since then Google has focused less on that and more on page titles and descriptions. Make sure that your page title isn’t just your company name or About Us. Ensure your titles are attractive and appealing and consist of the key words you want to push for. I can talk about this more in depth later on but the most important thing to remember is that Google’s focus is on the Page Title and Description because it’s what users see when they search on Google.
Similar to how newspapers and magazines use headings and sub-headings to help readers, websites can use special tags in their HTML. These tags not only help human readers read the content, they also help search engine spiders better understand the content on a page and what is most important. It is generally a good idea to use heading tags to help signal to the search engines, what the web page is about. Images are a great way to enhance a website from a user’s perspective. However, it is important to note that search engine crawlers cannot really “see” images. So, if you have lots of images that contain textual content within the image itself, this content will not be seen by the crawlers. HTML helps address this issue by providing a way to specify the textual content for an image using the “alt” attribute. The alt attribute allows web pages to assign specific text as the “alternative” content for images for those that cannot view the images themselves. This can be search engine crawlers or text-only web browsers.
Another very important part of optimizing your site that I’ve talked about before is both the age and registration length of your domain name. Most experts agree that you should register your domain for a long time, because search engines factor domain “stability” when looking at your pages. Google and other search engines like to see domains that have been registered for extended periods of time as this shows a commitment to the domain name. It also is an indicator that this website is not a temporary spam site. The reason why this is important consists of two parts. First there are plenty of fake sites out there that don’t actually want to show you anything and want to game Google’s ad system by getting you to visit them and click their ads. In order to avoid these sites Google has many tools they use but the most important is how old your site is and how long your site is registered for. The age of your site tells Google that you’ve been around for a long or reasonable amount of time and you’re not a spam site so you are worth increasing in rankings. Web sites that have been around for 15+ years like Yahoo and Amazon get a tremendous amount of ranking from being registered for so long. This is why it’s important to register a domain name you plan on using as soon as possible, even if you don’t use it down the road, having it registered before you even start planning what will be on the site is called aging the registration and can add plenty of Google juice for you down the road.
The second part is how long your domain is registered for, Google is pretty good at finding spam sites which means if a spam site has any hopes of making money it can’t be registered for more than a year because Google will eventually block it. In order to make it financially unreasonable to create spam sites Google has implemented a query that ranks sites based on length of registration, so a site registered for more than 1 year will be less likely to be a spam site and they will increase ranking for it. A site registered for 5 years gets a higher grade because Google knows they plan to be around for a while and sites registered for more than 10 years get special status. Though most big businesses have what is called permanent status on their domains meaning they are registered for an unlimited set of time in general you don’t need more than a 5 year registration mostly because you really don’t know how long you’ll want your site to last. For personal sites like mine (http://bastos.me) or established business sites it’s okay to register for 10 or more years because it will increase your ranking since you plan on having that site around for the rest of you or your companies life.
Finally, One of the most important measures for a website is how many other sites link to it or back links. The more links the better. Having links to your website from authoritative resources on the Internet helps you rank higher in search engines since these links are an indication that your website is trustworthy and contains good content. If you have relationships with big organizations that you do business with, ask them to create a back link to your site from their sites or if you are a manufacturer or wholesaler and sell to different online stores, have them create links to your site for product information and customer feedback. Many people will try and say that the more links you have the better but that only works on sites like Yahoo and Amazon with enough pull to really drive up your rankings. The general rule of thumb is that you only need one link per site and the more sites that link to you the more popular Google will make you. If you are a service business than ask your clients if they can link to your site and vice versa, this is why many web designers and artists have a client portfolio and why site developers put a link to their site in the footer of their work. To sum it all up this is why inbound or back links are important, if you can reach the magical number of about 1000 or more you will most likely make it to the first page of almost any key word you are trying to reach for. If you can reach 10,000 or more you will most likely be in a position that most businesses pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to place ads in each month, the top 5 in a search result. Next I will talk about Promotion or what a lot of people refer to as social media and what about it is valuable and what is not.