Brian Johnson: A Ten Minute Search Engine Optimization
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A Ten Minute Search Engine Optimization
Written by Brian Johnson
Many small businesses simply do not have the resources to hire a search
engine optimization (SEO) company to promote their web site. There are
countless resources online for do-it-yourself (DIY) optimizers where
professional SEO’s offer general recommendations and advice. This article
is my opportunity to offer more of my SEO experience in the form of a
10-minute optimization process.
This process will be effective for any page designed in HTML with at least
1 paragraph of html text but for the purposes of this article, I will
concentrate on the all-important home page.
Setting the Stage
Before I begin, there are a few things that you must know before
proceeding and you should spend more than 10 minutes considering:
Determine Your Target/s
99% of you know who your target market is, now you need to choose the
keywords that you believe they will search for. There is no use obtaining
top search engine placements under terms that are not being searched. This
step, alone, requires extensive explanation but there are a few simple tips
to keep in mind. For one, you will want to check your current traffic
statistics and note what traffic you are already receiving and under what
keywords. Now, visit the site of a competitor who you know is doing well
online (either through conversation or news articles). Look at their
titles on individual pages and try to determine a pattern in the keywords
that they have chosen. Also look at the source of their pages (Internet
Explorer: click “View” then “Source”) and copy their META tags into a
notepad on your computer. Between the titles and the META tags you should
be able to determine with reasonable accuracy which keywords are most
important for rankings.
It is important to note that professional SEO’s have many more resources
at hand to determine such information with higher accuracy.
Design – Is Your Page Marketable?
This topic can be touchy to bring up but the simple fact is that traffic
will have less impact if your web page is unmarketable. Now this covers a
lot of different aspects of design, however, a few basic rules should be
1/ Avoid using strange color combinations that make it hard for a viewer
to read your sales copy (red text on a blue background is a perfect
example of a painful design). In the same respect it is important not to
use text that is too small; try to keep your font size to a minimum of
size 10 or 12 (2 or 3 in Dreamweaver).
2/ Unrelated advertisements on your web site provide distractions to your
viewers. If you are selling BMW’s then it is generally not a good idea to
show an advertisement for herbal Viagra.
Every single graphical element of your home page has the potential to add
or deny credibility. Using this space wisely will ultimately create
happier visitors and generate more profit.
The Ten Minute Process
1. Spot Check for Spam
Before optimization begins it is crucial that your page is devoid of any
‘tricks’ that a search engine may construe as spam. You may not even know
they are there! Some web designers with out-of-date information add hidden
text because they think it will help your rankings. This is entirely untrue
and can cause extreme problems for your search engine visibility. To check
for hidden text just hold down the left button on your mouse at the very
top of your page and drag it down to the bottom. If there is any hidden
text (normally text that matches the color of your page background) it
will appear as it is highlighted. Second, you will want to search for
unnecessary repetition of keywords on your page. Do you see instances of 5
or 6 keywords being repeated in a row anywhere on the page? If so, remove
There are other forms of spam that you should be aware of that are not
covered within this article. For more information see our resource
2. Spot Check for Relevancy
It is very important for your site to be focused. For example, if your web
site is supposed to be devoted to ‘BMW car sales’ then a link or
information on real estate sales is entirely unnecessary. Keep in mind
that most of the top search engines will rank your site depending upon the
topic they determine you are offering. This determination is largely made
based upon the text within your web site. Don’t give them any reason to
3. Polish & Optimize Text
The text on your home page is crucial to maintaining the attention of
fresh viewers. In fact, copy is so important that many companies prefer to
have a professional copy writer create the content. Since this is not an
option, you have to keep your text engaging as well as smartly optimized
to present an obvious topic to the visiting search engine spiders or
visitors. To do this, keep your mind focused on the keyword(s) that you
have chosen to target on the search engines while you write the content
for the page. Implement the keywords within the text without sacrificing
the true intent of the information – to engage and retain your viewers.
Important Note: Often the first 25-30 words of your home page are what the
each search engine will use for the description of your web site. Try to
utilize your target keyword/s within this area but be certain the
resulting sentence is legible and descriptive.
4. Optimize the Title
The title of the home page can be optimized quite simply by placing the
keyword or keyword phrase that you have chosen to target first and then
finish with the name of your company or web site. For example:
” Toyota Car Sales – MyToyota.com”
The search engines place a great deal of weight in the title of your home
page and the keywords within your title will likely be chosen as the title
of your listing on the search engines. The title also plays a huge role in
the relevance of your site. The topic denoted within your title will be
compared to the content within the body of the page, if the topic and
content match, you will have a much better chance of obtaining higher
5. META Tags
The META tags located within the invisible source of your web page. They
were originally designed to provide the details of your web site to
visiting search engine spiders and they still do, to a degree. Since this
part of your web page is invisible, META tags were increasingly used to
misinform the search engines of the content of a web site – spamming. As a
result, META tags play a lesser role but they should still be properly
optimized so that they contribute to the topical relevance of your web
META tags are basically composed of the Description and Keyword tags. The
description tag should provide the same or similar 25-30 word description
of your web site that you created earlier for the first text within your
visible page. The description is occasionally used as your description
within the search engines but it is unpredictable. The Keyword tag should
include the keywords/phrases that you are targeting in order of
importance. Start with the most important and then proceed to less
important but still relevant keywords. It is extremely important that you
do not repeat any word more than 3 times within the Keyword tag. This
includes words within target sentences. Also do not place repeated
keywords close together.
6. Navigation… Provide Clear Paths
Is the navigation within your site entirely graphical or programming
oriented? In this case I recommend that you create a textual link menu at
the bottom of your page. For added punch (and this is a big hit) you
should make each link count by using the keyword/phrase that best
describes the target page. For example:
Toyota Accessories | Used Toyota for Sale | More About MyToyota.com
versus these less powerful links:
Accessories | Used Cars | About Us
7. Test and Spell-Check
Preview the page and spell check it then once you are certain everything
is properly balanced, upload it to your server.
Hurry Up and Wait!
What happens now is entirely up to the history of your web site and your
marketing budget. There are many search engines that offer paid submission
for the regular or prompt indexing of your new page/web site. If you have
paid for prompt indexing then you may see the fruits of your labor within
a couple of days depending on the search engine.
In this case I am going to assume that you have a non-existent search
engine budget. If your site has already been submitted to the search
engines then you can simply wait until a spider returns to check for new
content, at which time your new site/page will be found and processed
accordingly. If you wish this process to proceed post-haste or your site
has not yet been submitted, then you may submit your newly revised page to
the search engines for what may be a faster response time. Be sure to read
the rules that each search engine carefully defines before submitting or
resubmitting your web page.
Brian Johnson is Vice President of Niko Software Corp. and has consulted
with over 300 companies on maximizing web tools to increase profits and
web exposure. www.nikosoftware.com
View their website at: www.nikosoftware.com
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