By: Cade Lee and Nick Hantge
“Look at the flow and navigation of the site” the developer says! Google along with many other popular search engines respond “I don’t care.” “The flash is too busy, there is no text, and the navigation is impossible” the Googlebots further explain (that’s if the Googlebots were able to talk, and they can’t).
Just yesterday, we were at a meeting with a local Denver Printer because we have been working with them on a new site that they want to launch at the beginning of 2009. This printer has been in the graphics business since the early 60’s and if anyone knows graphics and marketing, it would have to be these folks. Yesterday’s meeting was the review of the first draft of the new site. The new site was built for Google optimization first and than the actual user has been the second priority. The reason for this is self-explanatory, however to explain, if we build the site for the end user then Google will not rank the site as high as if we appease Google first and the end user next.
It is a struggle between art and science that frustrates many. The responsibilities of web developing – the art — clashed with the role of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — the science. This is why some companies and development firms are designating web developer and optimizer as two distinctive jobs. This being said, many smaller companies and shops still have the web developer fulfilling both roles. In the case of the printing company we have been fulfilling both roles.
The first comment I had received was “the landing page is too busy”, I did not get the opportunity to explain to them that Google craves content and that if we do not have relevant content on the first page then Google will not place too much importance on the site or landing page in general. The problem is that search engine optimization is becoming challenging and competitive. Here is some information to help start the website optimization before, after or during the development of your website.
It is all about the writing on the wall. Remember that search engine optimization is all about the written text. I can’t stress enough how important the content of your website is. So if you have not read anything about SEO yet, make certain you understand that Google (the king of search engines) places the most importance on content or text. Search engines are text driven but there are still some basic HTML tags to keep in mind (i.e., h1, h2, meta tags, title tag). SEO helps improve search engine results but does not guarantee top ratings. Patience and realistic goals will keep the frustrations low. By this I mean planning on 60-90 days getting real results. Search engines have to crawl a site to determine what the site is about. This takes time, usually about a month, before the crawling and indexing are completed by the various search engine spiders.
Take some time to think (a lot) about the purpose of the website. Write down and brainstorm a lot of content in a word processing program even if it sounds ridiculous at first. Then edit what you wrote, edit some more, get some feedback and then start working on the keywords and keyphrases that identify the unique quality of your website.
Keywords and Keyphrases
The days of locating and finding easy Keywords are gone. Keywords are extremely competitive. Using two-word or three-word, maybe even four-word, phrases makes optimization less frustrating. A keyword phrase (keyphrase) helps identify the distinctiveness of a website. The keyword “catering” will generate about 92 million (!) results. The keyphrase “wedding caterer” will generate about 2 million results. That is a difference of approximately 90 million. The keyphrase “Denver wedding caterer” will generate about only 419,000 thousand results. The time needed to be spent finding unique keyphrases and determining your target market will be worth it in the end. When you narrow down the results, with multi-word phrases, this provides a better chance of your site being noticed and ultimately allows quicker results.
The density formula is D = KC/WC (D = density; KC = keyword count; WC = word count)
For major keywords target 3-7% density
For minor keywords target 2-3% density
Keyword density measures how relevant keywords are on a page. The formula density = keyword count divided by the total word count will provide a general idea of the density percentage. For major keywords, try to keep the density between three and seven percent. For minor keywords keep density between two and three percent throughout the page. For best results, try to optimize between two to three keywords per web page.
Avoid the old SEO tactic of keyword stuffing or writing your keyword numerous times on a page. You will be penalized and possibly banned from the search engines and your chances of being listed at the top will go right out the window. Keyword stuffing involves many techniques but it is basically stuffing a page and/or Meta Tag with several occurrences of a keyword or keyphrase.
The title tag is absolutely critical! We have found that focusing on the Title Tag and making certain a site has the keywords included here is one of the most important keys to SEO. Most search engines will read up to 100 characters in the Title Tag. The Title Tag should be unique on every page just like the content and keywords are. Make sure to match your Title Tag to the keywords you are aiming for on each page.
If you have a webpage about digital printing in Denver, make sure you include that in your title. Absolutely do not title your pages with “home” and “contact”. Instead use “contact denver printing company, digital printers, best denver printer, denver printing estimate”. This keeps us under the 100 characters, the user will look at the top of the page and still be able to see ”contact” and we have used great keywords for search engines.
The Meta Tags are important although some will disagree. Meta Tags once were the solution to SEO a year back but have began to slightly fall of the chart. Keywords and content are more beneficial in getting a web site in top rankings however, Meta Tags are still important. Meta Tags are a part of the HTML and are used by most search engines to find a description of your website.
When building a website, place these Meta Tags below the Title Tag on your page but make sure these are all included in the <head> and before the <body>.
<meta name =”description” content=”~” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”~” />
Using keywords and keyphrases in these tags helps to slightly boost search engine rankings. Although the Meta Tags do not have the influence on search engines they once did, it is still vital to include them in your SEO campaign.