Over the past 20 years of creating highly effective websites, there have been more strategies presented than websites on the internet claiming to get you the best search engine placement results. Blaming algorithm changes, the economy, the weather, and everything else possible on why the stragy did not work, it is no wonder why SEO has become such a large industry in the field of web design and development.
Before going into the specifics, most people should read the Google Webmaster Guidelines before taking or giving any SEO advice. Although the guidelines have changed as more SEO and Web Development tools have been made available, the basics have remained the same. However, when originally posted over a decade ago, the computer code and algorithms that value relative search results were not as able to really support these guidelines as they are today.
Before the surge and crash of the dot-coms, there were only 3 types of people online : The nerds, the government, and businesses that saw the future. At that time, it took an somewhat educated computer programmer to get a website developed. Today, that is not the case, as around 90% of people are going to Google to find out the latest news, directions, or cat video.
world wide web internet started gaining popularity, many marketing and advertising companies saw this new frontier to generate business. With a basic understanding of website creation and design, an importance of SEO became the new catch phrase to build online empires.
Unfortunately, most SEM sales, marketing, and advertising professionals did not have the technical skills to develop truly search engine optimized websites, and is still the case even today.
It seems like a scene from "The Matrix", but the search results and directories are no longer decided by humans, but robots and search algorithms. So to really get the results, you need a computer programmer or developer that speaks the computer language.
As more and more people and businesses came online, developing websites went from a hobby to a career. Even today, people are confused about how the internet and computers work, and it helps to have someone who speaks "geek".
However, as the world was in need of the hackers to build social, entertaining, and business websites, computer nerds had to expand their education and understanding to get the results they were wanting to achieve. While going through this process, learning the science behind, not only the algorithm changes, but business and customer psychology kept us in high demand. Learning and even developing strategies including the right font or color combination, as well as the ever changing lingo to get the top results, had been added to the skillset of the web deveoper elite, which are now known as SEO developers.
Hopefully, you have read the Google guidelines, and realize that the techniques are independent of time or media. These techniques work well with all the search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as forgotten tactics that work in print media.
The following are some key elements to get you started with understanding more about Search Engine Optimization
A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you don't put it into words, how will anyone know? Consider how you found this page, whether it was from a top search result, a link, or a Facebook comment. On that site, did you notice the advertisements? Chances are, you didn't!
The concept that "Content is King" has been revived in SEO to help search engines understand human language and how to categorize and index information better. However, it also has a lot to do with retaining your readers. If your page has all images and little content, you will have window shoppers and not customers. You will have acquaintenances but not develop a relationship.
Providing content can be adorned with images, video, and other eye candy. It not not only is a key element get you search engine placement, but increases customer retention by developing a sense of authority, and in time, gives your website or company branding that they will wind up spending their money on.
In grade school, we are taught some principles of grammar, which help with content, but also having a structure of words that we break into paragraphs and chapters when writing. On web pages, this is no different. Each page should be optimized for a set of key words and phrase to deliver a specific idea. Links to these pages should be relative but different.
When writing the content, or optimizing for SEO, you want to make sure that you provide specific keywords and phrase relevant to your page topic. This makes it clear to both your reader as well as the search engines, what this page is about.
There are multiple resources available to help find the right keyword and keyword phrases to help you develop your message clearly.
A decade ago, many website creators took advantage of search engines by spamming, or repeating keywords or keyword phrases. This was not only offensive to the reader, but as the search engine algorithms matured, penalties started getting put in place for spamming keywords.
Trying to find the right ratio of key phrases turned into a concept called keyword density. If you ask a thousand SEO gurus what the perfect keyword density is, you're more than likely to get a thousand different answers.
A practice that we have put in place from the begining, one that is more natural, is a concept called user intent and keyword relevancy. Instead of repeating the same keyword phrase over and over, we try to use different relative words to paint a textual picture. At the time of this writing, much to the dismay of most of our competition, Google is the only search engine who has been able to evaluate user intent and relative keyword phrases - changing the face of how you place in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Yahoo and Bing are sure to follow.
One of the tactics that we've seen much success with is keeping our layouts simple, and often, not so serious. Keeping a playful mood in your website design and content helps your customer relate to you.
We also try to keep things simple. Not adding a ton of images and videos (formerly called "link bait") helps your website to load faster - which not only helps as many are surfing the net on their smart phones, but also keeps things more organized.
This page has a lot of information, and applying the KISS principle, we've sectioned each area with a visible outline. This is valuable in some search engine indexing, but for the reader, it is easy to skim through, and get to where they want to go.
Your reader does not need to see everything! If you view the source on any website, there is a lot of information you haven't seen. The title, description, and keywords, for instance help search engines get an initial understanding of what a page is about. For images, "Alt tags", originally used for text-only browsing, helps you to explain what your image is showing, and helps with image search results. There is also a list of META tags, that are helpers to define the author, owner, location, and other information about the website. These tags can be optimized to position your website in front of a desired audience, so you get better results.
A bit more geek stuff here. CSS, or cascading style sheets, is a univeral browser language that allows you to add color, layout, text, and other design to your website - allowing you to change the look and feel without altering the core structure of your HTML and SEO. We've taken advantage of the new CSS3 structures to create responsive designs - allowing the same code to display different on mobile, tablet, and monitors, thus reducing concerns of duplicate content.
The latest version of HTML code has improved structure and capabilities for universal website coding across all major web browsers. The addition of different tags such as video, canvas, and others has made cross compatibilty simpler.
After getting the right copy (content), layout, and code, many web developers miss out on the value of the best toolset for website success - reporting software. Thankfully Google has provided Analytics and Webmaster Tools (and we also recommend Bing Webmaster tools for both Bing and Yahoo!).
Although, many web developers add these tools, many do not know how to use them for the most benefit. As a begininner, you will be notified of SEO and coding errors that they give clear direction on how to improve the technical issues on a website. As you progress through the different modules, you will see reports on visitor behavior until eventually you can start forecasting results, and know the improvements you need to make before you are penalized for errors.
Although there are several options within the search engine analytics and webmaster tools to improve the visitors to your website, one of key modules that is often missed is setting goals. In marketing on your website, you want to have a clear call to action. When you've successfully directed a customer to a sign up form or shopping cart or even a click to call, you want to let Google know by setting up Goals. This lets Google know that you have an effective website and the value of letting Google know you have designed the site to get your intended goal will result in more relevant traffic to your website.