By now most of our web clients have heard of search engine optimization or its acronym, SEO. Because it’s been around awhile and constantly in the news, there’s plenty of information, and I believe, misinformation about this continued hot topic.

We get asked about search engine optimization all the time. Some of our clients know enough to be dangerous, but we’re asked almost daily how to climb higher in the search engine rankings.

Before answering, you should know some credentials (at least, I’d want to know): We’re formally trained in search engine marketing and optimization from the International Webmasters Association. We subscribe to all industry newsletters and important forums that discuss the latest in search engine marketing. We own the latest search engine marketing software, designed to help research keywords, track search engine marketing efforts, and suggest improvements to pages based upon the industry’s best assumptions to date. And most importantly when dealing with search engine optimization, we have LOTS of hands-on experience in what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t misunderstand. SEO is pretty complex. And, to add to the complexity and confusion, the rules change constantly among the different search engines. So, with our education, experience, knowledge, and a little luck, we’ve been very successful picking our way through the minefield of search rules and done an admirable job at getting our clients higher-than-expected search engine rankings. Oftentimes we get them on page one in top positions for most of their important keywords.

Anyway, enough with the pat on the back. You’re looking for answers.

There’s about a million different ingredients that go into the SEO pie, but here are the biggies (in our opinion):

  1. Text Content. Content is king with all search engines. They like lots of good, keyword-rich content, written for user readability (no keyword stuffing and rambling on). And, in my experience, the more web pages the better. Smaller sites (less than 5 pages) really don’t end up ranking too well.
  2. META Title Tag. The title of your web page (and they can and should be different for all pages in your site) that appears in very top of your browser is your “META title.” This is adjusted in the behind-the-scenes code of your page. If you’re unfamiliar with how to change this, talk to your web designer. This title should include your key phrases (ordered most important to least) and probably end with your company/organization name. Though there’s different schools of thought on length, I’d stick to 12 words or less.
  3. Inbound Links. These are links from other websites that link to your website. The links should be text links (not image/icons), and generally should include some important keywords. For example, a link to our website, NetPilot Web Solutions, might look like this: Website Design by NetPilot Web Solutions (notice the whole thing is a link). To be helpful with search engines, these inbound links should be on more established websites that rank well with search engines already.
  4. Internal Website Linking. These menu links found within your own website are used by search engines to “spider” or move through your website in order to hopefully index your site with their search engine. It’s important to have a good, intuitive, user-friendly linking structure to navigate your website. If you do use image-based menus, be sure to have an additional text-based secondary menu. It’s also helpful to use good, descriptive links (that use your keywords too). For example: Instead of text menu item for “Services,” it would be better (from a search engine perspective, anyway) to have the menu text read: “Solar Panel Manufacturing Services.”

Anyway, these are the basics and most important concepts when working with search engine optimization. There are others and even more considerations, which we’ll share here soon.