Basic Website SEO

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential for every website owner as the ultimate goal is to drive visitors from the search engines to your website.  So while good SEO practices for your website will help increase your website’s visibility in the search engines, providing a pleasant and seamless customer experience can potentially turn those visitors into customers.

Although SEO can be very complex, there are some basics that every website owner should know and understand even if you decide to hire someone else to manage your website SEO.   Website optimization is an ongoing job for a website owner, but here are some key factors to think about when building your website as it will be easier to do as you go along.

Key SEO Factors

Keywords: Think of keywords as search terms, so ask yourself what words or phrases a visitor might use to find your website.   Use keywords that pertain to the subject of the page, or that describe the product. Keywords should be used in your titles, page or product descriptions, as ALT tags for images, and your meta tags.  You should strive to be very specific and very choosy in which keywords you use, so focus on the topic. 5 very much related keywords are better than 50 that are very vague as to whether they really have anything to do with the subject.  Google can actually penalize your website for keyword stuffing, so keep it simple.

SE Friendly URLs:  Search engines like keywords, and when these keywords are also found in your website links, this will help that page rate higher than one that does not.  Little Fish eCart & SiteBuilder uses search engine friendly links so take care when naming your pages or products – you should use keywords in the page, category, and product titles as they will become part of the URL.

Content: content is key when building your website.  You will want to keep the content of any pages or product descriptions very fine tuned.  Try to veer away from being too wordy just for the sake of filling up a page, but rather be clear, concise, and stick to the subject.  Build the quality of the content of your website by creating pages that provide informative or entertaining content about the subject of your website or product – show that you are an authority on the subject.

Other areas to consider for good SEO practices

Performance:  how quickly your pages are loading should not be overlooked.  Too many times I have seen websites overloaded with flashy scripts, music, or images that are very large in filesize.  Also, some codes that pull in from another website can cause your own website to load slowly.

So, some basic rules to keep those pages loading quickly:

  • Avoid adding codes for banners or ads that are not necessary.
  • Avoid javascript for falling snow or leaves, for instance.
  • Avoid adding music which can be a real turn-off to visitors.
  •  Keep your images optimized for faster loading.

Not all visitors will have quick connection speeds.  If your site fails to load quickly enough your visitor is likely to go to a website that will.

Link Building:  Building links that point back to your website can be done through link exchanges with other similiar type websites, directories, paid advertising, social networking websites, etc.  Not only are external links important, but linking to your own pages within your website can help to show that another page within your website is important and relative to the content on the page you are reading.  This can also pertain to promoting related products.

And Finally:

User Experience:  While this may be bottom of this list, it is by no means less important.  Ensure that the content of your website is fresh and updated regularly.  The pages within your website should be created for the visitor and not the search engine.

There should be a natural flow throughout your website.  Navigation should be easy and clear for the visitor to find what they are looking for.  If your site has broken links, too many ads, or other flashy cool gizmos, this may distract from what it actually is that you want the visitor to see or buy, or it may make your page look too confusing.

When building a website, after spending hours working on it, it is easy to forget how it might actually look to a first-time visitor.  I would recommend that before you ‘go live’ with your website to seek out critiques, be it through a forum or friends.  Having a fresh pair of eyes to take a look should hopefully highlight areas that might need more work.

TIP:  learn from the big guys, or from your own competitors.  Now this does not mean to do a copy of their website, but rather observe and take note of what they are doing right.  What is it about their website that you think creates a good user experience?

Clients should check out our article in the knowledgebase for implementing good SEO practices within your Little Fish eCart & SiteBuilder

If you’d rather hire someone else to do your SEO for you, we recommend:
Craft Site Medic

Read more about SEO:
Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
SEOMoz -The Beginners Guide to SEO

Photo courtesty of Stuart MilesFree Digital Photos