In today's world of high speed internet access, more and more businesses are turning to the internet to market to prospective clients, inform them of product availability, and even sell products online. With all of these businesses online, simply having a website, even one with a good web design, is no longer enough. How then, does a company compete with the thousands of competitors worldwide that have already established their online presence with the search engines? The answer is Search Engine Optimization!
The Advantages of Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization services provide companies with the visibility they need to start getting the website traffic that they deserve. When someone performs a search on a search engine, it is widely known that the average user will not look past the first 10-20 results. Therefore, it is crucial that a company's website rank as well as possible on relevant keywords and keyphrases to avoid getting lost in the seemingly infinite sea of search results. With search engine optimization, we take steps to optimize the content on your site around the keywords that are most important to your business so that you can be sure the people who are looking for your products and services are able to find your site quickly.
Search Engine Optimization - Things to Know
As you consider which search engine optimization company to hire for your own website, you will likely come across many search engine optimization companies that will claim to provide immediate top rankings, or substantial traffic increases over night. When you see these, remember - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. While simple things like search engine submission and the use of meta tags can often give a substantial boost to a site's rankings, the path to a top-10 ranking is often much harder and requires a combination of time and search engine optimization professional know-how.
In order to better familiarize you with the in's and out's of Search Engine Optimization, we've outlined some of the most important things to keep in mind below:
The most important thing to understand when conducting search engine optimization for a site is that if you want a specific page of your site to rank well for a certain keyword, the content of the page needs to be focused around that keyword. While most people understand this search engine optimization concept, what most people don't know is that search engines can't read images and interactive media (such as design work done in Macromedia's "Flash" program). Although a code can be added to these files to give a search engine a vague understanding of the contents of these types of files, the results are minimal.
Because of this fact, sites that have extensive graphic or Flash content often don't get credit with the search engines for their content because the search engines never realize that the content is there. This isn't to say that graphics and the use of Flash are bad and that text content is the only way to go; graphics and media definitely serve a very important purpose in the design and functionality of a site. However, a good website focused on search engine optimization will find an appropriate balance between the two in order to drive traffic.
It should also be noted that even well-balanced & keyword-focused quality content won't help if a search engine still thinks that content shown on competing sites is a better match for a particular term. At Apps Communications, Inc. we can run extensive search engine optimization reports that can analyze competing websites and show how well they perform in a variety of categories as well as where your site stands in comparison. This allows us to not only build quality keyword-focused content, but to also insure that the content being built is of a higher value to the search engines than what your competitors are offering.
Many people think that simply by going through the search engine submission process means that their site, and all of the pages in it, will get indexed. This is a misconception. Even when someone submits their site for indexing, the major search engines like Google and Yahoo receive so many submissions that they don't have the ability to process all of them, and therefore won't even guarantee that they'll look at the homepage!
Although generally submissions to search engines will get a site indexed anywhere from a few days to a month or two later, it is extremely important that when a search engine does take time to look at a website, that it is able to find all of the pages on the site before the search engine runs out of time and has to move on to the next site that it's scheduled to look at.
The presence of links affects the search engine optimization process in two important ways...
Interlinking within a site, whether it is through a navigation menu, links within the content of the page, or both, gives the search engine quick access to all of the pages within the site. If/when keywords are used inside the links, they also can help the search engine understand how the pages relate to each other and just how relevant a page is to a given keyword. The process can be speeded up even further by the creation of a "Site Map" page (such as our own, shown here) which lists links to all of the pages within the site on a single page, thus giving the search engine (and users as well) instant access to all of a site's information and features.
The same concept applies to links though as with the building of content - if the links are inside of a graphic or interactive media file, such as flash, the search engine will not be able to understand it. In the absence of a site map file or extensive links within the content of the pages, this can create a problem for many sites whose navigation menus have been created using graphics or flash. If you're unsure of whether part of your site is a graphic or actual text, try moving your mouse over top of it. If the mouse is able to select the words letter by letter, then the search engines should be able to understand the text or link being selected. If not, what you are looking at is most likely a graphic or part of a flash file.
Here at Apps Communications our search engine optimization professionals make sure that your site has the link infrastructure to give your pages maximum search engine visibility. We also work to make sure that the links we're integrating are also counting towards site ranking by using keywords and paying careful attention to the URL target of the link.
Inbound-links (links from other websites) can also help dramatically improve the ranking of your site in search engines such as Google if the inbound links are from the right sites.
An inbound link from another site tells a search engine that other people or companies think that your site is important or worth taking a look at. Therefore, the more inbound links that you have, the more of an authority that your site appears to be in the eyes of a search engine. In this way, if someone types in keywords that they’re looking for, and a large number of websites about that topic link to your site, the search engine will display your site at a higher rank because it thinks the user will most likely agree with all of the other sites that are linking to your site, that your site is in fact, an authority on that particular issue. You can generate inbound links for your site through a wide variety of methods ranging from website marketing campaigns to simple phone calls.
On the flip side of that coin however, if you are receiving links from sites that are based on unrelated topics, or are deemed less relevant to the topic than your own site, it could actually hurt your ability to rank well on that keyword. For this reason, it is a good idea to avoid services that claim to offer thousands of links to your domain instantly, because in the end, the search engine will see that your site is getting the majority of its links from pages that are nothing more than collections of links and aren't actually related to your topic.
It’s always good to plan big, but the way things get accomplished is always one step at a time. The same holds true for search engine optimization and the implementation of keywords. For every keyword that a site wants to achieve a high search engine ranking on, they should try to have at least one page dedicated to focusing on that keyword alone. If a website owner wants to rank well on five keywords, they should have a minimum of five pages, with each of those five pages having quality content dedicated to it’s own keyword. The keyword chosen for each page should appear often and in prevalent positions. Whenever possible, the keyword should also appear as many times on the page as it does for the top-ranked pages. Each page should also have keywords located in the meta tag section of the html coding that provides the search engines with an idea of which keywords to look for. People performing search engine optimization services should be careful though not to over-use a keyword to the point that a user or search engine identifies it as spam.
On a side note, although it’s perfectly acceptable, and even preferred, to have more than one keyword being used on a page, website owners should be careful when doing search engine optimization not to allow the supporting keywords to begin taking a larger role on the page than what they’re there for. If the supporting keywords do become too prevalent, it could appear to users and search engines alike that the page is attempting to bite off more than it can chew by focusing on multiple keywords at the same time – thus confusing everyone as to that page’s true focus and potentially hurting the page's search engine position.
Apps Communications works hard to ensure that each page has the meta tags and keywords it needs to compliment the content and links within your website in order to make the most of the search engine process.
With any sales campaign it’s important to know who your target customer base is so that you can market to them directly for the best possible turn-around on your expended efforts. Similarly, wasting energy advertising for a customer base that isn’t likely to be interested in the products or services you offer is often a costly mistake. The same holds true with search engine marketing and optimization. People often think that because they are on the internet, they will instantly be selling to a national, or even global, customer base, but in most cases, this isn’t true.
As an example, a website owner running a local cruise business in Florida would not want to focus on the keyword "cruise." The reason is that although people all over the world would probably search for that word, the odds of someone actually wanting a cruise aboard a local Florida cruise ship are slim in comparison - they could be looking for a cruise anywhere in the world. Sure, the website might be able to get a high search engine rank and get a lot of traffic if the owner puts enough money into optimizing for that keyword, but unless the people searching for the word "cruise" are actually looking for a local Florida cruise, it generally ends up being a lot of wasted time, money, and effort trying to rank well on a term that everyone’s competing for. For companies that are truly national or international in scope (such as major cruise lines), this wouldn't be an issue because the odds would actually be in their favor that they have whatever the user is looking for. However, local companies would typically yield better results going after more geographically targeted keywords such as “Florida Cruise,” or something similar.
A site’s domain name, as well as the full url listed for each page in a site also can have a degree of impact on search engine optimization. Although it is not always the case, the domain names that will typically yield the best results are those that have keywords and phrases built into their structure. Similarly, page URLs that have keywords integrated into them help both search engines and users alike identify what the pages are about.
Properly organizing a site’s URLs can also improve the ability of search engines and users alike to navigate a site. A search engine would be much more likely to crawl, and give credit to, a site that was organized as www.johndoe-clothing.com/shirts/button-down/long-sleeve.html than it would be to crawl a site such as: www.johndoe-clothing.com/shirts?id=06&type=button&sleeve=08&type=2. URLs such as the second example are typically created by website databases that are not trying to be considerate of URL structure. Although the big search engines such as Google and Yahoo are still capable of indexing URLs with a couple database variables, they typically won’t achieve a search ranking as high as the URL structures used in the first example. Smaller engines won’t even be able to read these variable-based URLs at all!