This week, Design and Logic has just completed website development for Monique Counselling in Thunder Bay Ontario. It was a very fun experience working with her to create a classy and functional web design for her Counselling Practice.
Monique asked me a very interesting question, one that many clients ask: how do I get my website active in the Google search results? Since this question comes up quite a bit, I thought I would explain how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works.
Spiders and Bots – I know it sounds like science fiction, but search engines use little scripts that create a spider or bot, or yahoo slurp, ect. What they do is “crawl” all the websites on the internet and try to categorize the content in order for users of their search engine to find relevant content. These companies use advanced algorithms to “weigh” different variables in the website and “rank” them accordingly. Sound confusing? It is!! However, the beauty of it is we don't have to worry too much about all that jibber jabber! We just want our website to be in the search engine and, if we are lucky, on the first page. I will explain five important things to consider if you want your website to do better on search engines.
If a website is not “live,” it cannot be indexed by the bots. Time is a variable that seems to be weighted quite a bit by search engines. After all, companies do not want to waste a lot of bandwidth on “crawling” a website that does not get much traffic or may not be around in a year. I have noticed in my experience that new companies who put more effort into the SEO of their website still have trouble taking an established site that has been indexed for many more years off the top spot. Therefore, get your website live as soon as possible and then ... wait ... wait and wait.
Descriptions and Meta Tags
One of the most important and simplest things you can do to increase the SEO of your website is to create a relevant title. For example, if you come to the Design and Logic website you will notice that at the top (often in the tab if using Chrome) it says “Thunder Bay and Toronto Web Design” ... Why? Because those are our two biggest markets, and when someone types in “Thunder Bay Web Design,” I want my company to show up on the first page. When google gets a request for the words “Thunder Bay,” “Web,” and “Design” it can see in its database that my website matches the search terms. I find that titles are the second most weighted variable right now. (Though I could be wrong, since Google keeps their algorithms secret and changes them periodically)
In addition, in a website they have what are called “Meta Tags”... these are where developers can add keywords and descriptions. The description Meta Tag is very important. It basically tells the search engine what your website is all about. This description will be visible on the actual search engine for users to read as well as contributing to the ranking of your site. Keywords are words that may describe your website. A web design firm might have for example "web, design, Canada" ect. This meta tage is only viewable in the source code. I am not sure if keywords add any weight to your ranking anymore ... but it does not hurt to have them in your site since it seems to be common practice.
Keywords and Content
In the old days of the web, there used to be an disproportional weight on the meta tags. It was not uncommon to have developers insert “Pamela Anderson” in the keyword meta tag and actually drive some traffic to the site, although it had nothing to do with the keyword per say. Google really changed the game of Search Engines since they took a content approach. I remember when I was first introduced to Google and was completely amazed. Why? Because it would bring up very correct information about what I was searching. Google (unlike yahoo and MSN) did not care as much about the meta tags; their bots “read” the content of the website and then decided how to rank it accordingly. This is the concept that made Google what it is today! So what does all this have to do with SEO? If you want someone to come to your site, add content that the bots can understand. I want people to come to Design and Logic when they search “Thunder Bay web design,” so I don't just write about “web design” in my content, I write about “Thunder Bay web design.” Think about it...if I just wrote about "web design" I would be competing with the millions of websites that do web design, instead of the ten that do web design in Thunder Bay. I have better odds of being ranked highly within ten websites than within millions. This is how content and key words work together. Content is the broad strokes of the brush where you explain what your company can do. Keywords are the fine details that gives the search engines the W5: Who, what, when, where, and how. This is the highest weighted variable in SEO!
Let us say you are a counsellor like Monique. Let us also say that there is one other counselling company website in Thunder Bay. Now the Google bots are checking out all the websites and notice that there are four reputable websites that have hyper-links going to Monique’s website and no links going to the other. Well, the algorithm thinks, if other good websites are “recommending” Monique’s, it must be more relevant than the other site, and it ranks it higher. This is supposed to be the organic way in which ranking is being done. If you are friendly with other companies in your field, then linking is a great synergetic way to create win-win situations, as well as improving your search results.
A site map is pretty much what it says it is...A map of the website. Bots follow the links. It is very important that the bots can “see” everything. This way Google sees all your relevant content.
These are the basics of SEO. Is your company performing in the search engines properly? If not, give us a call at Design and Logic, and for a very small fee we can help your company's SEO or we will refund you in full!
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