The Purpose of Optimizing Your Website
This tutorial is meant to serve as a basic tool for explaining the process and purpose of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on a website.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing (or making as useful as possible) your website. This includes optimizing your content to provide unique and meaningful assistance to people seeking your product or service. It also involves making the content accessible to search engines and creating a conversion funnel for visitors.
How to Develop Unique Content?
Not everyone is a writer. It can be difficult to come up with content that separates you from the competition. Yet without unique content your chances of being found via searches on Google or Bing are slim. If you are not comfortable with your writing ability hire a copywriter.
When I am faced with the task of writing content for people I always start with a few basis questions:
Who is the audience?
What is unique about the product, service or organization?
What incentive is offered to potential customers?
Answering these three questions on every page of a website will serve as a very good beginning to establishing meaningful content. Remember you can (and should) add to your site later so do not let generating content prevent you from moving forward. Start with the basics and make continual improvements.
*Note: Be sure your site has analytics installed so that you will have hard data available to determine what changes might improve your visibility.
How to Make Your Site Easy for Search Engines to Index or Categorize?
Let me be clear that I firmly believe any web designer/developer worth investing in should ensure your website is fully optimized prior to launch. However, this is not always the case and even when it is done it can and should be continually improved upon.
Making your website easy for search engines to index is a straight forward task of ensuring you have a properly functioning website, a working sitemap, adding a robot.txt file and provide relevant title tags on each page of your site. The page title should be kept short and provide a very accurate summation of what is being talked about on each web page. For instance, if my page is about Buddhist teachings my title should directly relate to which teachings I refer to in the text. The titles should be modified whenever there is a change of service or a change in what you are offering ( ex: resorts often benefit from seasonal optimization). Creating a working sitemap can be done for free at many locations online. A simple search for “ create sitemap” will provide plenty of options. Sitemaps must be uploaded and submitted to the search engines each time a change is made to the map (each time you add a page to your site). They should not include secure areas of your site. Robot.txt files tell search engine bots which pages of you site you want indexed. They allow you to control the content which will be available via search.
Why wouldn’t you want your whole site indexed? Many times you do but when there are secure areas on the site (ex: ecommerce sites) those areas should be “disallowed” in the robot.txt file.
Creating a Conversion Funnel
People come to your website in search of something they need, want to do research. Creating logical, visible and easy to follow pathways for them to find the information or product they are looking for is called creating a conversion funnel. Funnels are usually created using design elements that direct the visitor to the pages that are most useful to his/her search.
There is a lot of research on conversion rate optimization but it remains a developing science. Ask friends and family to go to your site in search of specific items. Ask them if it was easy to find and for suggestions to make it easier. The simpler the information is to find the better.
The Purpose of Ongoing SEO
If you have already gone through the above process why would anyone need ongoing SEO? Ongoing SEO is used primarily to zero in on those terms which your customers are using to find your site (or your competitors websites). It is also designed to keep fresh content from your site in front of search engines and for growing organizations that continually offer new products or services or “news” items. Basically it keeps on top of your content changes to continuously improve your search engine placement for relevant search terms.
Some businesses benefit from monthly SEO others are better suited to seasonal or quarterly boosts. There are few websites that would not benefit from SEO – take the time to understand how this service will enhance your business and you website. Then find a reputable SEO company to do the work – unless you want to spend years learning how to do it yourself.