Updated 3/5/2016

Step 1 – Keyword Research

The first step of getting your website to show up in the search engines, is to first figure out what terms people are searching for. If your website is aimed at selling “metal gadgets” but people more commonly search for the words “gadgets made of metal” you’ll probably be better off using “gadgets made of metal” at least a few times on your website.

To find out what search terms are popular you can open up Google in a browser window. Enter a keyword or phrase in the search field, and before you even hit enter or the “Google Search” button, a drop-down menu of terms will appear below your search field, showing a variety of popular options that have been used in searches. You can choose any of those terms, and a results page will display. When you scroll down to the bottom of the results page, you’ll see a list of “searches related to” the topic that you used. These are some of the popular search terms for your topic that are usually requested by visitors.

Step 2 – Keyword Analysis

Based on what we find from our keyword Research we decided which terms will be best to optimize for.  If there are millions of people searching for the word “gadget” then it may be a good term to optimize for.  However, if millions of other sites are already optimized for the word “gadget” you may find that the competition for that term is too high. The ideal scenario is to discover a very popular search term that has a low level of competition from existing sites.

In this step of SEO we assess the popularity of a search term compared to it’s level of competition, and combine that with an understanding of your companies priorities to help determine which keywords will be most beneficial for your purposes.

Step 3 – Keyword Optimization

The actual optimization process involves placing the keywords and phrases that we think will be favorable onto your website in the following key places.

  • Title Tag: Each one of the pages on your website should have a title tag. A title tag is a very brief snippet that announces the content of a given page. Title tags show up in the search results of Google and other search engines. As show here: google-search-results-demo1.jpg
    This is the line that people click on to get to your site. Title tags are important because they are the first thing people see when they search for your site. So, in addition to being a good place for keywords, your title tag should accurately represent the content of your page, be easily understood, and ideally compel potential visitors to explore your site. In addition to showing up in search results, title tags also display discretely at the very top of each of your pages when your site is opened. As shown here:

    title-tag-on-site-demo.jpg

  • Description Tag: This information is only visible on the search results pages of Google and other search engines, and will not display directly on your website. Description tags display in the search results directly below the “Title tag”. As the name would suggest “Description Tags” should further explain the content of your page. Again, you want to include relevant search terms and make sure that the text is informative.
  • Image Alt Text: This is invisible text that can be applied to each image on your website.  Alt tags can include keywords, but should always contain a description of the image that they are attached to.
  • H1 Tag: The H1 tag serves as the heading for your page, much as you would title a essay, you would also assign a H1 tag to each of your pages. Unlike “Title Tags”, H1 tags are displayed prominently on your page. Search engines see H1 tags as particularly valuable in determining what your page is really about.  Therefore it’s a good idea to consider keywords when constructing your H1 tags. However, readability is key. Make sure that your H1 tags represent your content accurately and are helpful to visitors on your site.
  • Page content: The text on your page is also important for SEO because the text on your page is also scanned by the search engines. The number of times that a keyword shows up on your page influences how your page is ranked in the search. So, if you’re trying to be found for “gadgets made of metal” you’ll want to have that phrase in the text of your page, beyond just the title tag.  However, this needs to be done with care. Always prioritize the experience of the people visiting your site, over the search engines scanning your site. Consider picking 1 or 2 keywords/phrases per page, and include them sparingly only when/if it makes sense to. You may find that not all of your pages provide you an opportunity to optimize. In this case don’t force it. Let your content speak for its self.

Step 4 – Refresh your sitemap and submit it to Google

Each time you make significant changes on the site you want to make sure your sitemap has been updated and submitted to Google for faster indexing. Your sitemap is essentially a table of contents that includes all of the pages on your site, when you update your sitemap and submit it to Google, you’re insuring that Google has the most up to date information for your website.

Caution! Don’t Get Carried Away.

We know — there’s a tremendous temptation to try to augment your site’s chances of getting found by doing things that will attract the search engines but which have no value for site visitors.  Over the years, people have tried many things: stuffing the keyword tag in the HTML with lots of repetitious terms, for instance, or adding ‘invisible’ keywords (typed in the same color as the page background.)  It doesn’t take long for the search engines to wise up to these attempts to circumvent their formulas, and they either penalize the perpetrators by banning their sites or simply ignore the input (this is why most search engines pay no attention to the keyword tag these days–because it was so often misused.) 

Just stick to the rules when it comes to page tags, and use your keywords as often as it seems logical in your text.  Repeating a keyword phrase where it’s not needed just makes for a weird experience for your site visitor, and that reflects on the site visitor’s impression of your business.