Using Your Website

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your website more appealing and accessible to search engines.  While there are many ways to achieve this goal, it is easy to get caught up in making changes that are unimportant or even downright dishonest.  That's why we have compiled a list of things you should and shouldn't do when trying to have your website found by search engines.

 

 Do

Write Quality Content.  Users aren't interested in the games you play to rank high with search engines.  They are looking for something, whether it's information or a specific product, and they expect you to give it to them.

Add new content regularly and consistently.  Search engine robots (aka "Spiders") crawl the pages of the internet regularly to search for new and updated content.  If your website never has anything new to offer users, search engines will not be interested in sharing your website with searchers.  Consistency is also important.  If you can only post once a month, then be sure you post something new every month.  Visitors will figure out your schedule and begin seeking you out when they expect an update.

Use keywords relevant to your topic.  When would you like your website to show up in a search?  Would you like for people to find your website when they search for "Restaurant" or "Diner"?  "Photography" or "Family Portraits"?  Using specific terms you would like to rank for helps give search engines a better idea of what your website, and company, is all about.

Allow users to share your webpages on social media.  People tend to listen to what their friends think, and read what they post on social media.  So make it easy for users to share your pages with their friends by adding the appropriate social media buttons to your website.

Use alt tags.  Alt tags are the unseen text that accompanies your images.  Robots are not able to crawl images, so instead they use alt tags to decide what content an image contains.  Alt tags that provide inaccurate descriptions or are left blank hinder your ability to be found on search results.

Optimize images.  Have you ever opened a webpage and then had to wait for the images to load?  This is because the size of the image is too large to load quickly.  When we talk about size we are not talking specifically about the dimensions (100px x 200px), but about how much

Use descriptive URLs.  URLs are another thing that robots use to determine how relevant your website is to a user's search.  Let's take a look at two different URLs.
  • http://www.simplebusinesscloud.com/promote/using-your-website/24-the-dos-and-donts-of-seo tells us which categories we are in (promote, with-your-website), and which article we are looking at (the-dos-and-donts-of-seo).
  • http://www.simplebusinesscloud.com/20140312/20140926/2494821 tells us nothing about the article that we are looking at.  It is an apparently random string of numbers.

Be honest.  You are an internet users too.  The fact that you are reading this article right now proves it.  When planning and implementing your SEO efforts remember the Golden Rule of SEO:  "

 Don't

Copy articles from other sites.  Search engines are looking for new and unique webpages to show searchers.  Copying articles that appear on other sites will cause you to appear lower in search rankings because you website has nothing special to offer visitors.

Stuff your website with keywords A common misconception with keywords is that more is better.  Another term for this is "keyword density".  Search engines such as Google and Bing have re-written their search ranking algorithm to account for this.  When you stuff your website with keywords the only thing you achieve is decreasing the quality of your articles.

Use link or like farms Link farming is when you pay (or make deals with other website owners) to have other people add links to your website in order to inflate your credibility in the eyes of search engines.  Search engines look at how quickly links to your website are formed.  Links that are formed at an unnatural speed can hurt, rather than help your website.  The same is true of friends & followers on social media.  Paying a company to add friends & followers will only get your website in trouble.

Use images to display text.  Robots are not able to crawl images and therefore cannot index text contained in images.  There may be times when you want use an image anyway.  This is where it is critical to use alt tags to assist robots in indexing your page.

Allow slow load times.  Research has shown that most users give you a maximum of 5 seconds to catch their interest before they leave a page.  If your pages are slow to load users may steer away from your website without even seeing what it is you have to offer.

Use long URLs You are sure to have come across a webpage with a URL that seems to just go on and on.  Search engines don't like these and will rank them lower than if they had used a shorter URL.

Rely on any one technique.  There are two reasons why this won't work.
  • Search algorithms are not written and forgotten--they are constantly being changed.  For example, the change from Google's "Panda" to "Hummingbird" took top ranking sites that had relied upon link building and dropped them from the first page.
  • Search rankings are not based upon any one thing, rather upon the way your website works as a whole.  Bing's Duane Forester compares it to driving a car: "You can travel 40 mph using 1st gear, 2nd gear or 3rd.  Still the same 40 mph, but due to the different gear ratios engaged with each individual selection (1st, 2nd or 3rd gear), the engine speed will vary, while maintaining that 40 mph."

Be deceptive.  This pretty much sums up the logic behind black hat techniques.  You may find a loophole that helps your website rank high, but deceptive techniques have little lasting power.  Search engines are on the lookout for deceptive methods of ranking and create ways to figure this into their search algorithms.  If you are honest in your approach to designing  your website you will create a better user experience for your customers, search engines, and your business.



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