Last week we met with a business owner and his team who had recently been presented by their current Web Design Company with a big quote to promote their web business over one year. We then decided it was time for us to step in and shed some light on one of the most misunderstood aspects of web design and website development: Search Engine Optimization.
In the past 10 years, SEO has become one of the most intriguing internet marketing strategies, drawing much attention from businesses across the Web. Today, these businesses invest millions of dollars in their websites’ Search Engine Optimization. Yet, in any given industry, only a handful of companies successfully promote their business and get a good return on their SEO investment. So what is the Big Secret? What techniques are available today to optimize a website? And what is the most efficient way to promote your website with SEO? Oh and what exactly makes us experts in the field?
Web design and SEO companies across the globe present their clients with impressive proposals and promise to deliver outstanding, long lasting results. It is usually too late when you realize that the only long lasting result is your relationship with the SEO vendor.
In this article we will give out an SEO Strategy Check List that will give you powerful insights into some of the best kept SEO secrets, and that will probably change the way you approach your website’s promotion forever. We will also disclose great tips and techniques to help you boost your website’s ranking quickly and with a minimum investment.
The Basics About Web Traffic
First off, we need to understand what the main channels of traffic are on the web. The graphic below should clarify that for you and provide some basic statistics:
So clearly, the big majority of the web traffic is generated by major search engines’ organic results. So wouldn’t it be great if your website could appear among the top results? That is what SEO does. Other web marketing strategies, though they can yield terrific results (if done right), can also prove very costly. And in most cases these strategies don’t yield any long term results (i.e. the moment you stop investing, your inbound traffic immediately stops). In the next few days, we will post an article about these non-SEO web marketing strategies (such as pay-per-click web advertisement). We will disclose great ways to get impressive, cost effective results that way, so stay tuned. But really, what can be better than having a high page rank on major search engines and steadily get heavy traffic on your website? And you know that the money you invest now in Search Engine Optimization, if done right, will yield long lasting results.
So you want to be 1st on Google?
Ok no problem. We can get you there relatively quickly and easily. And many other web design companies can get you there too. But under which keyword combination?
Volume of Traffic
Obviously, it will be quick and easy to rank your website 1st on Google for the word kalamoush! And this is mainly because there is no competition for this keyword. So you should first check the search volume of the keyword you are optimizing for. For example, web design generates a bigger search volume than website design. A great tool that can help you is Google Trend – simply use commas to compare multiple search terms.
Any traffic versus quality traffic
The second point is which keywords will generate more quality traffic as opposed to mere traffic? There is no point in getting millions of visitors a day if they do not generate more business for your company! This will only waste valuable resources. Besides, inappropriate SEO results tend to vanish quickly as your website bounce rate increases. If you are a web design company offering high end web design service, it is useless to optimize for“cheap website design” – even if this keyword combination generates a significantly bigger search volume than “web design company”. Make sure you know your target audience, and focus your efforts towards getting quality traffic.
When a web design company gives you a promising proposal with a guaranteed first page result at a low price – beware! With these type of companies, you usually get what you pay for, or less.
Moving forward, how can you get long lasting results for your business using website SEO? Keep reading…
Do you really want to be 1st on Google?
First of all, your website should definitely appear first on Google if a user is specifically looking for your business. A user may have heard about you, read about you, or has already visited your site and is trying to find it again. In all of these cases, the user should be able to find you right away using major search engines just by typing your business name, your site’s name, part of these names, or any possible combination of words the user may remember about your company’s name or website’s URL. This can usually be easily achieved but it is so often overlooked! So don’t focus on fancy, super competitive keywords before you have reached a good and solid SEO base.
Is your website worth getting quality traffic?
Good SEO performed for competitive keywords that generate big volumes of quality traffic requires a serious investment. So to optimize your return on your investment, you need to make sure the quality traffic you will get from SEO converts into more business for your company. That’s your website’s role. Your website must feature a good user experience that converts traffic into business. So make sure that you invest in SEO as part of an overall strategy to reach your business goals. And you know what? If you follow this approach, you may very well dramatically improve your site’s user experience while at the same time working on SEO! Yes, many of the legitimate search engine optimization techniques will also improve the quality of your site – and your conversions.
SEO techniques shouldn’t focus solely on search engine results…
Unfortunately for many businesses, since many SEO vendors provide their clients with a guaranteed ranking result, they will do whatever it takes to reach that goal and get off the hook. That is how “black hat” SEO techniques were born, including link farm, keyword stuffing, meta tag stuffing, hidden text, parallel pages, etc… But while you can get quick results with these techniques, you may end up in a situation where:
- Google removes your site from its index, considering that you are “spamdexing”
- The quality of your site drops and your conversions decrease – as a quick example, users don’t like to read the same keywords over and over, nor do they like an inadequate navigation with too many pages and too much content
- The bouncing rate of your site increases – statistics show that on average, your site is given a chance window of about 7 seconds to convince the user that he or she is in the right place.
So a ranking-result-at-all-cost approach is not only illegitimate and a bad ethical practice, it is also very likely that it will send you back to the drawing board.
SEO efforts should always be performed within a global strategic vision to portray your business goals.
This is the most important statement about SEO. You should probably learn it by heart and repeat it seven times in your head every time you are having an SEO conversation with anybody or anytime you make a business decision that relates to your website design strategy. Let me repeat: SEO efforts should always be performed within a global strategic vision to portray your business goals.
Luckily, major search engines are pretty smart and most legitimate SEO techniques overlap with business promotion techniques. So when you properly perform extensive search engine optimization, you will at the same time extensively work for the promotion of your business! Here are a few guidelines:
- Improve your site’s popularity and quality traffic with practices that create a buzz about your business and your website within your target pool community. You will increase the number of quality inbound links to your site (for Google) and also get more traffic that will convert (for your business).
- Improve your site’s user experience with title tags, clear navigation, a site map, relevant content with a clear focus, cross linking between pages, etc.
- Improve your site’s overall quality with a clean, compliant code with proper headings, alt tags, etc. while following Google’s guidelines. Your website will load faster, work better, be cross browser and cross platform compatible, enhancing your users’ experience, widening your market pool, and making it nice and easy for Google’s spiders.
- Regularly update your site’s content, keeping it fresh, up to date, and interesting to your customers and to search engines crawlers at the same time!
- Implement a Blog on your website and provide your visitors with useful information related to your business. Combined with other elements, this approach will increase Google’s incentive to consider your site as a high quality website.
Let me state it one more time: SEO efforts should always be performed within a global strategic vision to portray your business goals. If you follow this approach, every dollar you invest in your website SEO will be a great investment.
SEO Strategy Checklist
When you are ready to promote your business and optimize your website for search engines, go over the following checklist!
- Does my website appear if users specifically look for it or for my business?
- Does my website have a good conversion rate?
- Does the web design company providing me with SEO services have an overall understanding of my business goals? Are they promising some page rank guarantee or rather do they focus on improving my business with long lasting results? Are they able to combine SEO with other web marketing and promotion strategies?
- Which keywords are the most appropriate for my business and which keyword combination will give the best return on investment based on relevance, quality, and search volume.
- Who are my main competitors? How good is their website SEO?
- Do I have a good statistic system in place to track and analyze the traffic on my site? This is very important as any good SEO strategy works over time and should be adjusted based on the results you obtain.
SEO Techniques & Tips
Let me finish this article with a list of SEO techniques that yield great results with a minimum investment. I have included only techniques that are easy to apply and don’t require any in-depth expertise of web technology, but will greatly improve your site’s SEO.
On-page SEO – techniques performed on a website itself
- The first content appearing on the site should be the keywords you are optimizing for (and these keywords should be a combination of a couple of words that best correspond to your business)
- Every page on your site should have a unique title that is appropriate to that page content. The title can be very useful to your site’s users as a reference (on most browsers, the title appears on the very top of the browser’s window). The title will be a good indication for search engines.
- Every page should also have a unique meta description. Don’t fill it with keywords – instead put a relevant sentence describing the content of the page.
- Every page should have appropriate meta keywords.
- Every page on your site should have an H1 tag, and the tag should include your keywords within a sentence or title that makes sense.
- Your website pages shouldn’t be too long or too short. Don’t be afraid of scrolls – visitors are more prone to scroll than to click! On the other hand, pages that are too long hurt the user experience. In that case, divide your content in smaller, more targeted categories that appear in separate pages. Of course these new pages must be easily accessible from several places on the site and they must have unique titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords, h1 tags etc…
- Throughout your site, combine your keywords with other words. Always in a way that makes sense to your users! Provide a clean, uncluttered content to your visitors.
- Every link on your site should have a title tag that provides additional information to the visitors. Title tags will appear to the users when they mouse over the link. The titles should be short and helpful. Naturally, if your sites content and links are appropriate, many of your title tags will include some of your keywords, or part of them.
- Every image on your site should have an alt tag with a short alternative description of the image that will appear to the user if the image fails to load. If your website is well designed and the images are relevant to your business, many of your alt tags will naturally include your keywords.
- Create a site map and have a link to it on your home page. Many users refer to the site map when they get lost so it is a good idea to display it on your site’s footer. It will also increase your website’s SEO. Don’t forget to include title tags to all the links in your site map!
- Use clean URLs. For example /Web-Design-Blog is better than simply /Blog or worse /blog.php?post=etc… Web-Design-Blog is more relevant, a better reference for the user, and also help search engine crawlers better understand how your website relates to your keywords.
- Use relevant file names for the images of your website. For example web-design-services.jpg is better than serv.jpg for an image showing 3 categories of web design services. Your website designers and developers name every file – they may as well name them in a way that is useful for search engines. It is also easier for them to work with descriptive file names. However, avoid file names that are too long.
- Add a social bookmarking on your website. For example add to del.icio.us.
- For best results, all of the above techniques should work together creating a coherent and consistent website.
Off-page SEO – techniques performed outside of the website
- Create quality traffic to your site via 3rd party websites – talk about your business and your website on forums that relate to your industry, blogs, directories, etc… Quality inbound links will not only bring visitors to your site, they will also vastly improve your website ranking on major search engines as they will consider your website as popular and relevant.
- Submit your website to all major search engines with a short description and your website sitemap (txt or xml format). Here you can quickly submit your website URL to Google. Use Google webmaster tools for more in depth work.
- For $300, you can list your business in the Yahoo Directory which will be a very valuable inbound link.
- For many reasons, make sure your domain name is registered for more than 1 year.
Thanks for Reading
I hope the article was helpful to you! There is one question we forgot to answer – what exactly makes us experts in the field of search engine optimization and web business? Well, you probably found this site from a search engine query, and if you got this far, you obviously belong to the “quality traffic” category since our website’s content is relevant to you. Whether you contact us, request a quote for your web design project, got some great information and insights for your business, or simply enjoyed reading – you contributed to our website’s success.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below, we will respond shortly!
Thanks and come back often! We are regularly sharing our wisdom on a wide array of topics that relate to the web design and web development industry. Some of our posts can be quite technical, others are more suited for business strategists, and we also like to discuss general subjects.