Our previous article (Choose Your Keywords Carefully; Your Website’s Success Depends On It!) demonstrated how to choose the four or five keywords that will give you the best search engine placement that will lead to profitable sales. The following will show you how to search engine optimize (SEO) your website with those keywords.
Gaining top positions on with high-traffic keywords takes both science and art because web content has to balance between what search engine ‘spiders’ like with meeting your business goals and providing compelling value to customers. Of course, other websites are competing for top positions with “your” keywords as well. Search engines have criteria, programmed as algorithms called ‘spiders’ that try to give their users the most relevant searches. Search engines are always adjusting their algorithms but in general, their main criteria are consistent. The closer you can follow their criteria, the better your website’s positions will be. Following criteria also means avoiding ‘spider killers’ (see sidebar).
Since spiders are based on criteria and rules, it is important to realize that just because your site may have more appropriate content for a particular keyword(s), it may not rank as high as other sites that follow the criteria and rules more closely. It’s objective, not subjective.
Search engine spiders rank websites according to: relevance, prominence, focus/defensibility, and PageRank (see below). Each search engine’s algorithms are a bit different, and Google--with 60% of the consumer market--is more different than most. Therefore, following the same criteria will give a range of placements on the various search engines.
In a search engine spider’s world, relevance means a combination of controlled repetition, keyword content and value. If your website is truly about (relevant to) your keyword subject, it will have a lot of content that repeats your keywords that is of value to your visitors.
- Use your keywords both as content that people read and as the names of links to other pages. For example, any of the pages for MBSI-NY, a storage solutions company, can be found by a number of keywords that also serve as links. Notice how these same keywords—Filing, Housing, Retrieval, and Tracking Solutions--also act as links to inquiry forms throughout the site. Keywords have to be exact because spiders see “relief from pain” as a different keyword than “pain relief.” Repeat your keywords as much as is comfortable without hurting the message, and without clumping them together. Try to hold total page content to 250 words.
- Your most strategic keyword(s) should either be your website title or in the subhead or (if your company name is the title), or in the lead sentence. On MBSI-NY's home page they have their most strategic keywords "filing, material & handling, storage and specialty furniture solutions. . ." as part of their lead sentence and as a link as well. (See example)
- Write a 125-character site description (the text description that follows your web site title) that includes your keywords and make that the lead sentence of your home page. Google seems to be picking that up as your site description. An easy way to write this is to start with the words “We offer...” and follow with a list of your keywords in descending order of traffic count and in good grammar. While the order and phrasing are up to you, Google often chops the end off so you want to have the keywords with the greatest traffic counts in the front. (See example)
- Every web page has an underlying source code page that contains the references, text and programming that makes the web page work. Spiders read the keywords that are inserted in the reference ‘tags’ of the source code page which add relevance for some search engines. For example, click here and then put your cursor on any wheel segment. The boxed comment that pops up is called an Alt Tag. Talk to your html programmer about putting keywords in your Heading Tags (H1, H2, etc.) whenever possible. Add meta tag list of all keyword phrases separated by commas – most search engines now ignore meta tags, but it can’t hurt.
- Use keyword labels for links to supporting pages. Make every possible tagged graphic and photo a link to an appropriate page because tags rank higher when they are links. For an example, go to the New York City government's official website. Notice the photo on the home page heralding a lighting competition. That photo has an Alt Tag "City Lights Design Competition" and is a link to the city's Department of Design and Construction.
- Add an html list of links to pages at the bottom of all pages or an html Site Guide on the Home Page– redundant for navigation but good for spiders. (See example)
Tony Grass is President of e-Market Intelligence, an internet sales generation consultancy and service. Previously, he built a traditional 65-person sales and marketing communications company in Chicago. Contact is welcome through firstname.lastname@example.org.