On Search Engine Optimization

There’s a lot of talk about SEO lately, and a ton of information posted all over the intarweb about how to best increase your search engine rankings – mostly with Google – but others as well. So what have I discovered? That it’s pretty damned ambiguous.

Yes, there are very specific things you can do to help to increase the quality and frequency at which your on line content gets crawled and indexed. It still feels very Voodoo-esque and arbitrary though. I have been working with my latest client (and good friend Gordon) West Brewing Company, and trying to increase the overall ranking and searchability/findability of their website within the top search engines. Reading numerous articles and referencing data from dozens of websites, I found some of the following to be very helpful:

  • Page Titles
    • Titles should be unique(to every page) and descriptive.
    • Should be less than 80 characters.
    • Should act as a call to action.
    • Should contain important keywords.
  • Meta Description
    • It should accurately describe the page.
    • Limit to less than 250 characters.
    • Should contain important keywords.
  • Meta Tags
    • Should contain important keywords and phrases.
    • Limit to less than 250 characters.
  • Linking
    • Linking in pages is very important. But don’t overdo it.
    • Cross linking from one article/page to another within your own site will also help crawlers to index content.
  • Content
    • Well written and frequently updated content is very important. Without content there is nothing to index and/or crawl – so therefor you will get no indexing…
    • Consider what people actually search for when writing articles, and weave important keywords and phrases into the first 500 words of the text. (search engines index the first 500 words or less)
  • Formating
    • Using the heading tags (i.e. h1, h2, etc…) will help dramatically.
    • Always use HTML tags rather than spans applied to text (like to make something bold – us the strong tag), especially as mentioned above.
  • Link Popularity
    • This could very well be one of the most important aspects. The more places and sites you have linking to your site, the better the results you will get. Period.
    • Getting listed on reviewing websites or industry portals is a great way to drive folks to your site.
    • Utilize any of the free PR websites available. Like PRLeap for instance.
  • Research
    • See what your competitors are up to. Perform a Google search, or MSN, or Yahoo, or what ever.. and look to see who comes up on top. Go to the site and scope their META tags, and see what they are doing that you might be able to glean from. If they are on top – they must be doing something right – so why not learn from them.
    • See how other folks write content too.

    Be careful not to try any of the various tricks out there though, this will most likely not work out the way you want – unless of coarse you want to get blacklisted as a spammer

    The article is one of many excellent references…

    Most of all, be patient. This all takes time and effort. It’s not horribly hard, but it is not something you can just sit down for a half hour, and expect to be number one in Google in the morning.

    In regards to how my projects are working out. I’m not sure yet. I have been getting sporadic results from all of the Search Engines so far. Some days are better than others, just the other day (after being in the top 10) westbeer.com dropped off of Google completely for like 3 days – and now (I just checked) it’s back and it’s #2 and 14 – depending on what your terms are. Although in many of the others, it seems to be holding its own in the top 10. So, I am very hopeful that I can get it licked to the point to where everyone is happy…