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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Introduction to Search Engine Marketing

By far, the least expensive marketing activity with the greatest ROI you can undertake for your website is search engine optimization. “Organic or natural SEO” (search engine optimization) means optimizing the unpaid, algorithm-driven results of a search engine query. This includes the methodologies used to achieve preferably high rankings on the search engine result page (SERP).

Organic or natural SEO involves the manipulation of code, content and technology to increase targeted traffic. What follows will focus on the Google search engine, representing 60% to 70% of all searches performed. What's good for Google will be good for the rest, Yahoo!, Bing and AOL. The key here is to just do it, do it well and completely. Remember search is "intentional," meaning that the searcher has a product, service or brand in mind, already putting them further down the marketing funnel and closer to a sale.

Sometimes dynamically-generated pages cannot be read or “crawled” by all search engine spiders. Avoid creating URLs or links with long query strings including “?” or other codes, as these may prevent spiders from following the URL or link. For suggested guidelines from Google for building a website, visit:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769#design

Be sure that your content management system (CMS), if used, doesn't include more than 3 parameters in the URL and has SEO tools available. Even without SEO tools and as long as you have access to the source code, you can include good SEO practices.

SEO Basics

Website Content

Original and unique content is the single most determining factor for search engine indexing. Most websites do not have enough text content. Pay special attention to keywords used in the content of the page. Keywords are the most valuable words to be found for in search engine results pages. Content created as an image cannot be “read” by spiders as the content cannot be seen in the source code. Perform keyword research to find those keywords and phrases people are using to find similar and competing websites. Write 200 to 1,000 words of copy per page and include relevant keywords and phrases (no more than three to six times per page).

Beware of duplicate content because you can be penalized to not show up highly on search engine result pages (SERPS). To avoid this, use "rel=" or relationship code to tel the search engine spider which page is the canonical or primary page to be indexed: <link rel="canonical"href="http://www.example.com/canonicalpage-URL"/> Note: This code can also be used to "no follow" links to pages with similar content to prevent a "spamming" penalty.

Source Coding

Keep all metadata and content as close to the top of the source code as possible. For example, place JavaScript for tracking purposes after content that can be read by the search engine spider.

Title Tags

Each website page needs a unique <title> containing the keyword phrases referenced on that page. Use no more than three keywords or phrases, do not repeat them and make sure they appear in the content of the website. The content of this tag shows up in the browser bar and as the title in the search engine result pages (SERPs). The title tag is the first tag right after the <head> at the top, and before the metadata tags of the HTML code. This can be up to 115 characters in length.  For Google, the recommended character length is 70.

Description Tags

Each website page needs a unique metadata “description” using keywords. Use no more than three keywords or phrases and these should also appear in the content the webpage. The content of this tag will show up as the description in SERPs. No more than 150 characters are needed here. For example: <meta name="description" content="Expert Search Engine Optimization and building HTML websites with SEO for ranking in search engine results pages"/>

Metadata Keywords

A website page needs metadata “keywords” and phrases taken from the content on each page. There should be no more than 378 characters of keywords separated by commas and spaces. For example: <meta name="keywords" content="Search, Engine, Optimization, HTML, SEO, search engine results pages, SERP, website development, sitemap, site map, alt tag, title tag, header tag, spider, crawler, XML feed"/>

In September 2009, Google officially announced that it no longer considers metadata keywords in terms of SEO. Nevertheless, the research required to find keywords appropriate to a website is important as they can be used to compose content on the web pages. Also, metadata keywords are still used by other search engines like Yahoo! and MSN’s Bing and so should be included.

Header Tags

Header tags tell search engines and viewers the theme and what content is important on the page. Keywords and phrases from page content should be used in the main header or “H1” tag. This header needs to be followed by a paragraph (or more) of content, optimized with keywords. Try to use one main header per page. For long pages, H2, H3... H6 tags can be used as subheads. Each of these should be followed by a paragraph. Note: Adjust multiple header tag size by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

SEO Basics Continued

Alt Tags

Image alt tags are important for complete SEO. Search engines use the alt tag like body text. When using an image, make sure there is an alt tag with a keyword or phrase inside. These can be seen by rolling the mouse cursor over images. For example: <img src="MyImage.gif" alt="Search Engine Optimization">

Anchor Link Text

It's important that, like "alt=" tags for images, anchor text tags are used with links within your website and especially those from blogs or other websites that point to your website (which is not always possible). For example:

<a href=”http://yourdomain.com”>Place Anchor Link Text Here</a>

Sitemap

A HTML-based sitemap is essential to the visitor experience and successful SEO and should be built to list and link to all pages within the website. Put a link to the sitemap on all pages of the website. Google Sitemap XML Feed Use the Google Webmaster Tools, formerly known as Google Sitemaps, to create XML feeds of the website layout. This free feed is submitted directly to Google, and allows the Google spider to efficiently and regularly index the website, especially for new content to reflect the latest changes on the site SERPs. For instructions see:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/docs/en/about.html

Use this sitemap XML feed in a similar manner for MSN and Yahoo! For more information, visit:

http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php

Website Audit

Use Google Webmaster Tools to perform an audit to see if there any HTTP errors, missing pages, URLs not followed, URLs not followed because of incorrect robots.txt command, URLs that time out and unreachable URLs. This tool will show you if the site is successfully crawled by Google and whether the URLs are included in the index. For more information, visit: http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php

Google Tools

  • Web Crawl: Identifies HTTP errors, broken links, unreachable URLs and restricted URLs
  • Mobile Web: Identifies CHTML, WML and XHTML crawl errors that might affect how a website is crawled and viewed by Google Mobile.
  • Query Stats: Lists the top search queries and top search queries that are clicked to access a website.
  • Page Analysis: Provides a review of the keyword content of a site and links to the site as seen by the Google spider.

Page Redirects

If you have a need to redirect a domain or web page to another URL, use the “301 Redirect” and not the “302 Moved Temporarily” redirect. The 302 redirect is no longer a valid instruction for search engines because it was extensively used to “spam” search engines. Be careful to do this correctly. Improperly configured htaccess file (Linux or UNIX) can cause your site to fail completely. On Windows or IIS type of server, the “301 redirect” command can be managed in the Administrator's section of the server software. It’s best to contact the web hosting company to safely accomplish redirects. Instructions can be found here:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93633

Even more seo basics

Page Redirects

If you have a need to redirect a domain or web page to another URL, use the “301 Redirect” and not the “302 Moved Temporarily” redirect. The 302 redirect is no longer a valid instruction for search engines because it was extensively used to “spam” search engines. Be careful to do this correctly. Improperly configured htaccess file (Linux or UNIX) can cause your site to fail completely. On Windows or IIS type of server, the “301 redirect” command can be managed in the Administrator's section of the server software. It’s best to contact the web hosting company to safely accomplish redirects. Instructions can be found here:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93633

Canonicalization

Sometimes there are two websites on a server and the search engines may think http://mywebsite.com (no www.) and http://www.mywebsite.com (with www.) are two different sites, but could be penalized for having the same content. This suggests that a permanent redirect (technically called a "301 redirect") be set up between these sites and to get full search engine credit for one and not the other of these sites.  By correctly configuring a permanent 301 redirect, search rankings should improve as all inbound links are correctly counted for just one website rather than demoting overall ranking due to there being duplicate content on the Internet. Correct URL canonicalization is important for achieving the best possible search engine indexing and ranking.

Search Engine Submissions

Submit the website to search engines and directories. Generally speaking, this is not recommended, but you can use a tool to periodically do this, but do not continuously do this because doing so too many times may result in the attempt being seen as “spamming” the search engine. Be sure to submit the website to the Open Directory (http://www.dmoz.org/add.html), where it may take from two weeks to several months to be listed on partner sites which use the Open Directory data to populate indices, such as AOL Search, Google, Netscape Search, Yahoo! Search, and hundreds of other sites.

Link Building

After taking into account metadata, Google ranks website pages by analyzing “importance” by looking at the links to the page from outside websites with relevant content and having as high or higher PR. Hence, it’s important to seek links to website pages from outside websites, but do not use “link farms” or paid linking schemes because these techniques can cause a website to be dropped or banned from Google’s index. The links themselves should contain keywords related to the content on the page being linked to.

This is what Google says: "Google PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves important weigh more heavily and help to make other pages important." 

Press Relations - Link Building

Use online wire services like Business Wire, PR Newswire, PRWeb and Market Wire to get press relation content into news search engines. This will increase the number links and therefore Google Page Rank. Make sure URLs are included through hyper text links (see above). Make sure the website has a press relations section. Keep it updated with releases, including photos, audio and video files. Make sure this page is fed to Google through Google’s XML sitemap feed and chronologically list press releases from most recent and have links to published stories and make sure these links do not expire. Create an online media kit to link from the client’s press relations section and have a search function in the press relations section, available for visitors to easily find content.

Wire services for distributing press releases:

www.prweb.com
www.prleap.com
www.i-newswire.com
www.webwire.com
www.24-7pressrelease.com
www.clickpress.com
www.przoom.com
www.pr.com
www.marketwire.com
www.prnewswire.com
www.businesswire.com

Offer a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to which a visitor can subscribe to receive the most current information when it’s posted and include links to bookmarking sites so visitors can easily bookmark content of interest. Write a blog version of press release and post them to relevant content social media sites. Be sure to pay special attention to the culture of the social media or blog site.

Additional Search Engine Indexing Opportunities

YouTube is the second largest search engine and  social website.  Use YouTube to host videos you want to show on your website. The advantage here is that YouTube is a universal video player and format agnostic. Provide titles and descriptions when you upload videos. The description can be quite lengthy, so consider including the video's script.


Local Search Optimization is most important for local businesses so that especially mobile users can fine local retail locations.  Businesses with multiple locations in the same area need to carefully execute this to have all discrete locations properly listed.


Very Important: Be sure you website pages load in 3 seconds or less.

market-Wright SEO (search engine optimization) services 

  • Comprehensive SEO analysis
  • Competitive keyword research
  • Metadata optimization 
  • Optimized copywriting (300-600 words)
  • Code structure optimization analysis
  • Search engine submission
  • Link building
  • Website traffic tracking tool installation
  • Traffic tracking and periodic reporting and analysis
  • Development of social media and PR strategies to enhance search engine indexing
  • Google Universal Search application development including image and video file indexing
  • Local Search Optimization