We are almost at the two year anniversary of our SEO Blog on the Evolving Interactive website. In the search marketing industry, a lot can change in a period of weeks, let alone two whole years. (Check back with us on January 14 2012 for a special blog post.) However, even in this ever changing industry, there is a golden rule that everyone, SEO’s and small businesses alike, should follow. Optimize your website for your customers first, and the search engines second.
In the early days of search, the black hat tactics that made a website look juicy to a search engine seem archaic and obvious now. Keyword stuffing, putting colored keywords on a same color background, spamming comment boards (this still happens, sadly and comically); and the list goes on. All of these tactics were used to help boost the strength of a website that really had nothing to offer to people / potential customers once they got to the site. As search engines caught on to these “strategies”, SEO’s on both sides of the white/black hat debate made more conscious efforts to make customer websites user friendly. It’s no good for your business to have people stopping by, getting frustrated or confused, and never becoming a customer.
So as tempting as it is to over optimize your site for Google’s spiders, the rule of thumb is to put yourself in your customer’s mindset when optimizing your site. Think, “What makes me stay on the site?” Here are a few quick tips to make the searchers and the search engines happy.
Homepage Content – This is the most important place on your website to have great content, including your hot keywords, major products / services, and contact information (especially name, address, and phone number). New clients with an idea about SEO have asked me to re-write content using a ton of keywords, the full list of services and service areas, etc. The basic idea is correct, but keep in mind the average online attention span. You want to grab new users with a quick description about your business and services, something that makes them want to look at other parts of your site for more specific information (like service areas and products). If you write this content with a few of your star keywords, it will also entice search engines.
Meta Description Tags – This is a short description written into the HTML of your page, not seen by the searcher. An early black hat tactic was to stuff this area with as many keywords as could fit. Like the homepage content, it is important to have this be a well-written, concise description about your overall business. Keep in mind, you can (and should) have a unique description on each page. While search engine bots will crawl this description for relevant keywords, there is a more important function that applies to the searcher. Sometimes, on the results page, a snippet of your meta description tag will appear underneath the link to your page. If this section is filled out with all keywords, the site can appear spammy. On the other side, if there is no information in the tag, the search engine may pull content from the landing page. Since you have the chance to control the content shown, make it a quick, enticing sales pitch to attract searchers to your site. (Note: Keep it under 165 characters)
Layout/Design – Users can’t help but be attracted to a clean, easy to use website, with well-placed content, photos, and easy to find links to the rest of the site. Think of the difference between Myspace at its worst versus Facebook at its always. Myspace had space for flashing photos, links scattered across the page, and a slow loading speed, to name just a few of their critical mistakes. Facebook came along with a simple color scheme, a more user friendly navigation, and no trouble loading. Think of this when planning the layout for your website update, or your new site. Clean and cool will keep the visitors you get, instead of scaring them off.
The end goal of all SEO is to attract more customers and increase business growth. Granted, attracting the search engines will help to attract the potential customers. But you want them to like your website when they find you.
For more information on search engine optimization or SEO consultation, contact moc.evitcaretnignivlovenull@ofni or call 312-454-4550.
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