search engine optimization

That Magical Word in Search Engine Optimization

Keywords.

Mention keywords to anyone who has a website and they start getting a glazed look in their eyes. It is the expression that drives thousands of dollars into SEO businesses, drives people mad in an attempt to insert just the right keywords in their website text so that they can be number one in a search engine result.

In the early years of the Internet of Things, there was a specific website code you would put into your website called a metatag labeled “keywords”. When it was realized that this one metatag could boost your website to the top of the pile, many started inserting every word or phrase into that one little space to the point where it became pages upon pages of “words”, most of which were not relevant to anything on the website. It worked for a time, until the Google search engine came along.

Then in 2000, the Google algorithm kicked in. In the 16 years and several hundred changes to the algorithm, Google said, “meta tags for keywords will no longer be used”. Note that Google did not say keywords would not be used, just the meta tag.

Suddenly everyone panicked although even now, many technical and non-technical people believe the metatag is still used.

The algorithm continued to be fine-tuned and then the word finally sank in that if you wanted your website to be at the top of the search engine results, you had to have quality related content on your website. What does that mean?

Obviously if you are in the business of selling shirts, you aren’t going to have your website talk only about pants, except you could write it in such a way as to how the specific shirts matched specific pants. Then you have two major keywords, shirts and pants. They go together, “naturally”. That is rather a strong point to all of this – naturally.

To figure out search engine optimization can be very complicated if you try to learn everything there is to know about SEO and weed out all of the hype from people trying to sell you their services.

To some degree it is rather simple. We’ll keep the analogy about shirts for a while longer. If you want to be found in your area so that people come into your shop to buy shirts, then you want to do a number of things:

  1. Tell people who you are. Given all of the scammers in the world today, people want to know who you are before they will do business with you. Frankly, if your shop is 15 miles from where I live, I do not want to waste the time and gas to go somewhere to be disappointed.
  2. Tell people specifically where you are. If they don’t know where you are, how will they find you? As an example, run a search for “Seattle shirt stores”. You can get over 77,000 search results. Which one are you?
  3. Description is key, or in this case, the keywords. Write your descriptions so that people will know specifically what you are selling. If I search for “Seattle blue shirt”, I get over 10,100,000 results. When I add “checkered”, I get 8,900,000 results. I add, “long sleeve” and the results dropped to 6,520. See how this works? Remember to write the text naturally, not with the sole intent of SEO, because there is no magic formula. The better the content search, the better the results you get because the website page has better content. Note that I used website page. That is because you have to look at every page on your website to make sure there is good solid content.
  4. Contact information is key as well. If I search for something and I think I found what I want, I might need to call or email you with questions. If I can’t easily find contact information, then I might suspect your website as being one of those that is just trying to get my money with little or no support with problems (Customer Service, right?).

This is just some of the pieces that go into search engine optimization. There are more, of course, but this will get you going in the right direction. Keep in mind that you need to keep your website current. The search engines like change but current relevant change, not just for the sake of change.

Google Penguin

Since we have been hearing about and seeing many articles about the changes Google has made to their search engine algorithms, the more recent one, (April 2012), being called “Penguin”, (yes, they seem to name larger changes), we thought we would pass on an article that we read which was published by CNBC, at this link: http://www.cnbc.com/id/47413065.

If your website seems to be moving down in the rankings on searches, this might explain a little about what is going on. There are some things that can be done, but from what we have seen so far, most of our Clients’ websites are still holding their own.

To provide just a bit of background history, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “experts” about 10 years ago were filling up website pages with “keywords”, words which were not actually contained in the text of the website page. These “keywords” were words and phrases showing in the website coding under what is called, “meta tags”, hidden coding that was read and indexed by search engines. When Google realized that people were filling the coding with key words and phrases not actually related to the website pages just to get better rankings on the web, Google supposedly stopped using the meta tags for indexing as it was considered “keyword spam”. (Some search engones do still use that particular meta tag.)

Now, under Penguin, the focus is now primarily on links to and from websites. The “link spam” is the same philosophy as was keyword spam – using too many links unrelated to the website is considered spam.

From what we have seen so far, unless you spent a lot of time and/or money creating and adding links to and from your website, you should be safe, for the time being. What affect will it have on those who sell links for a living? We’ll have to see…