30 Aug 2012
A Simplistic View of SEO
SEO is Search Engine Optimization
I’m putting this together because average people, mostly laymen, who need websites designed, don’t know the first thing about SEO will say, “Make my website more SEO friendly.” To clarify, I’m thinking about a three-page site with a blog (Home, About, Contact, Blog).
SEO is mostly about the content. Used to be websites had lots of hidden keywords on their pages in the footer hidden in the same color as the background color. That was to build their PageRank (“put me on the first page in Google”). But most recently, Google changed all that with their new algorithms and punished those types of sites and also those types that had bought-in to a backlinking pool. In short, they lost and dropped to the bottom of the search results because Google doesn’t focus on keywords as much. It’s still a good practice to fill out your META description and keywords, but it’s even better to write good content.
How should you write your content?
Content should be written naturally same as if you were talking to your friends. If your site has two-three keywords you want to rank high on, then you need to think, “How can I write quality content with these keywords?” Remember in elementary school when they would make you write a sentence using words you had learned from the new vocabulary? It’s the same thing now. You’re using elementary basics to write great content. You should make a note that you need to write quality content over quantitative content. Write well before writing more. Don’t write gibberish. If you wouldn’t talk that way with your family and friends, don’t write it. While you are writing, make sure to use a spellchecker. Google is looking for this well written content.
In addition to creating great content, make sure you are using typography rules and making appropriate use of the headers in the content. If you have a professional writer/editor, they’ll want to do this already because they are passionate about it. I’m not talking about an English major or someone that knows English really well, I’m saying a professional writer/editor is the person who bugs you alot about how you should always write well, like the editor that you find at a book publishing company. When you write content for the static Page on your website, that is where it needs to be written well, first and foremost. Blog posts are also important places to write well, if you have the staff to do so or the financial means to edit each one. If your main content is coming from the blog and you have no pages to look at, then definitely write well and invest in yourself by taking a basics writing class to improve your skills. Daniel provides these professional editing services and more. Yep…that’s me!
What else do I need to be aware of while I’m writing my content?
When you create a blog post, the five main areas you have are: Title, Meta Description, Content, Categories and Images. I’ve covered Content in the “How should you write your content?” section above.
Title The Title is important. It summarizes what your post’s content is about in five words or less. Most technical people subscribe to a website’s blog feed known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication - pulls mostly plain text only, sometimes pictures, into a service so that multiple sites can be read at once without visiting them all) using an RSS reader, such as Google Reader. And within that some of them will only read the title first and if they like it, they will read the post. So think about how you can create a eye-catching title.
Meta Description This should be a short summary of what your website is about and where you’re located. It shows up under the link on search results. Use Yoast SEO to adjust your description.
Categories Categories are simple as using one category per post. Don’t use multiple categories per post. If you need that sort of organization, use one category followed by multiple tags. It’s best if the tags closely match your main keywords that you are trying to rank high on. That means, don’t go overboard with Tags.
Images Images are equally important and usually the basics are forgotten when writing quality content. Good SEO starts with the file name. Use hyphens, not underscores, to replace a space and a hyphen. Use all lowercase letters. Describe the image very briefly, four words or less. So, this filename IMG002.JPG is not descriptive. If the image is about a cat licking a bowl of milk, you won’t know that later if the site crashes or you have to move it to new hosting and you’re looking through your files.
With these tactics in mind, the filename would change to cat-licks-milk.jpg, but what if your post or page has the title, “How cats lick milk,” and you have three images in the post, what do you do then? I would recommend this naming convention, name them in the order they appear on the page: how-cats-lick-milk-1.jpg, how-cats-lick-milk-2.jpg, and how-cats-lick-milk-3.jpg.
After you’ve uploaded that image to the server, you have other fields to take care of before you insert your image. There’s an ALT and Description field to fill out. The ALT field is for you, visually-impaired readers and it’s really helpful with SEO. When someone with a slow internet connection visits your site or when a search engine crawls your content, the image will show the ALT text before the image has been able to load, telling the reader what the image is about. It describes what the image looks like. The Description lets your site visitors know more about the image, where it was taken, who you were with, what you were doing, the copyright information, etc. If you are using an image and the original creator wants credit for it, then you need to place that in the Caption field.
SEO in web design
As you’ll see above, most of the working SEO relies on you, the owner of the site. You are writing and updating your own website. The web designer should be doing the same for you in the theme design built for your content. This is one reason it is important to choose a web designer, like me, to custom build it for you. Designers put in the effort to incorporate all these qualities into the theme. They will suggest to you, if they are good designers, how you should layout your content on the page and how they would design your website for you. When you ask a web designer to build your site, suggest some websites that you like the design of and say what it is that you like and what you don’t like.
Maybe you need a custom WordPress theme or small changes done to your site, please take time to visit my portfolio.