The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
I’ve been knee deep in Header 1 Tags and Meta data for the better part of a month now. Well, if all goes well I should always be knee deep in these things as an SEO but the debate over keyword density (the volume of keywords on a page) is always of constant discussion.
I’m of the camp that if content is king, the content must be readable, as all the traffic in the world won’t bring you business if the visitors can’t read the actual content. We’ve talked about this before but I really want to drive the point home again, find the keywords you want to target and work those keywords into your Header 1, include them in the first four words of the Title, and reference them and similar terms in an easy to digest 165 character Meta Description.
Recently I sat down with a friend who has a WordPress blog not unlike my own and we were able to change her site so that the right keywords were in the right place, the Header 1 had the right content etc etc. Within 7 days she moved from Page 3 to #8 on Page 1. Odds are good your web site has juice it isn’t utilizing because your onsite factors are seriously lacking.
Target your keywords in those places we talk about, the Header 1, the Title Tag, Description Tag and whenever possible as part of the links URL. Be ungeneric! Get optimized!
Been spending a lot of time conversing lately about the value of a GOOD web site. When Image Freedom was founded, I didn’t intend to be a Web Developer. I’ve been creating content for the web for ten years, be it for gaming sites back in high school or all centered geocities sites with big spinning 3D logos all over the place. I’ve seen the best and the worst of the web in all it’s glory.
Lately a lot of San Antonians have been talking with me about their own site, and what their plans are for it. The general perception is that you’re going to have to spend $10-15,000 to get a web site you can be proud of. I don’t have permission to show specific examples, with prices, but the reality is closer to one tenth of that.
This may sound like one of those “use me instead” articles, and maybe at it’s core that holds some merit but it is just so vital that a business has a solid web site. Does this mean you need ANY web site? I’m a pretty savvy web guy and I visited a site for a San Antonio business and was unable to find a link to a map, or driving directions. HUH!? That is priority one if you have a physical location. What happened was they named it something cute, so I had to click through half the site to find the address, none of which had a link to Google Maps.
@AliciaSanera wrote a blog recently called “You Get What You Pay For” about investing in your web site, and I couldn’t agree more. Alicia teaches finding a niche market for yourself, and as stubbornly as I clung to my SEO roots I find myself much more often developing strong actionable web sites. I meet the demand of the area, and the demand is “give me a site that works”.
Can anyone FIND your web site? Optimization for Search Engines, advertising and social media marketing are all great ways to bring people to your web site. It is important that you are in Google Maps, it is important that you are Searchable by your name, and it is important that you pop up for search terms related to your industry.
Once they find it, what do you want them to DO? Having a web site is not about having a picture of yourself on the web, you have customers, stepping through your virtual doors and it is your job to service them like you would if they visited your real location. What is it you want them to take away from the experience? What information do you want from them? Do you want their e-mail address or phone number?
Once they’ve done that, how do you KEEP them coming back? So they found your site, and they filled out a contact form giving you their phone number (thus becoming a lead) do you have the content to keep them on your site? If there are resources, or *gasp* a blog you could display on your site, would that keep them interested? Ask yourself, would my sister read this article, would my neighbor? Sometimes we are the worst people to gauge whether a piece of content is interesting, we think ANYONE would want to read it, but often times that is not the case.
Ask yourself the above three questions. Can people find my web site? What does my site ask people to do? Will they stay once they’ve done it? That is in order the most important aspects of any web sites. You could have the best design, the most flash, the cutest little names for all your sections, and your site will still be something people glance at and leave.
Do you know what bounce rate is? Bounce Rate is the volume of people who only visit one of your pages, most likely your homepage, and then leave. A low Bounce Rate means that your web site is inviting and informative and people spend a good amount of time on your pages. A high Bounce Rate, 70% 80% or higher means people are only seeing your homepage and deciding to leave.
Do you want 100 hits, or 1 lead? Do you want 1,000 site visitors, or 50 regular users? There is so much more to web design than hits and flash menus and cute names. Does it function and meet the above goals? No? Then I am very sorry, but your web site sucks.Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and Audience Analysis for your web site at the Image Freedom homepage.
I hear it all the time. “What do you do?” Well I’m an SEO. “And what is that?” Don’t get me wrong there are people who get it, or if they don’t get it, at least they know about it but the biggest hurdle for any optimizer is that constant question, “what is SEO?”
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or sometimes Search Engine Optimizer. The reason SEO is such a mystery is because even the best Optimizers in the world are not 100% sure how Google’s algorythm works. We have a pretty good idea how it works, find some keywords, put them in the title of a web site, put them in the Header 1 tag, put them in alt tags and in the body of your content, maybe bold them, maybe italicize them, etc.
Your average web site is not doing these things, and so they contact an optimizer like myself. What are the three primary reasons someone contacts a search engine optimizer?
1. They want to show up on Google.
Google has become synonymous with “search” and while Yahoo and Bing are important too, most people ask why they haven’t showed up on Google, the big boy in internet search. Thankfully Google is pretty nice, they offer some really great tools to track the traffic your site gets, to analyze the keywords you’re currently popping up for, and to help you tell Google what pages on your site are the most important.
The SEO’s relationship with Google is not always a good one. It is our job afterall to cater the content of a web site to get our site to rank higher than other sites, and in some cases dueling SEO’s have gotten in serious trouble with Google for breaking the rules about ethical optimization.
Image Freedom is what is called a “white hat” SEO group and while we probably would do some Black Hat techniques if we could get away with them, the risk of getting a web site blacklisted on Google is just too big, and we believe no one should ever take that chance. Gotta play by the rules, or Mother Google will shut you down.
2. They want to show up on Google Maps
I bet you didn’t know that you can move the little Thumb Tack for your business and where it falls on Google Maps. Have you ever looked something up only to find the needle across the street from the actual location? Many businesses turn to an optimizer like myself to make sure their Google Maps entry is perfect. This can be done for free through the Google Local Business Center but it does help to have someone on your team who has done it before.
On the other hand, sometimes someone has tried to setup Google Maps themselves and has hired me to put it back the way it should be, so they aren’t in the middle of a lake. (True Story)
3. They want to know which keywords to target
Content is king. Coming very soon, Google will be putting even more weight onto the content of a web site and things like hidden keywords and classic Black Hat tricks will be a thing of the past. When a marketing team decides to pursue a content plan, they will hire an SEO to develop what we call a Keyword Cloud. A Keyword Cloud is many many keywords that are related to an industry and are scored based on the monthly search volume that word gets, and how many other sites are currently targeting that keyword.
This way, with your Keyword Cloud in tow, you can create content that follows the Keyword Cloud instead of just blindly making content. Your content will come up in searches and your message will spread. How often have you created content and wondered why no one ever found it? It needed some keyword research.
So that in a nutshell is Search Engine Optimization. It’s how you show up front and center on Google, Yahoo and Bing and the techniques and tricks to make sure it stays that way.
Does that make sense?