The Basics of SEO

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The Basics of SEO

by Grant Bivens
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I recently got an email from an individual who has had a website for quite awhile. They knew they wanted/needed some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but really didn’t know what all that meant or entailed. I knew gave their website a quick scan and pointed out four basic steps to jump-start their website on the path to SEO heaven.

1. Descriptions – When you searched for their business name the snippet that was displayed was a customer review that was essentially the first text block on the homepage of their site. The default snippet was in no way informative as to what the site was or even if it was an official site. Having a good description won’t help your search engine rank, however, it will greatly increase your click-through rate. There is a great blog post by Raj Krishnan on the Google Webmaster Central Blog titled “Improve Snippets with a Meta Description Makeover” which has more information on this topic that is a good read.

2. XML Sitemap – “What is an XML Sitemap?” you might ask. Simply put it’s a roadmap for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to find all the “addresses” (pages) of your site. Search engines ‘crawl’ websites and index all the content they come across. They generally follow all the links on a page and hop from page to page indexing all the pages they can find. Sometimes you might have a few pages that get skipped over for various reasons. Submitting a sitemap will ensure that all of your site’s pages are index and can be searched for. Another bonus to submitting sitemaps to search engines is it allows you to find errors on your site that you might have missed, such as broken links. Google’s Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Central sites are great tools for tracking down errors.

3. Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is probably the most important thing you can do to help grow your site. I thought about how I could describe what Google Analytics is but I thought it best to leave that up to Google:

“Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.”

Simply put, Google Analytics puts you in the driver’s seat of your website instead of just being a spectator. Being able to gain insights like why your visitors come to your site, what content is getting the most traffic, which pages are converting (getting users to perform an action like filling out a contact form or downloading a whitepaper) is truly amazing. After you see the data that is available from Google Analytics you’ll wonder why anyone in their right mind wouldn’t be using a tool like this. I could go on and on about what Google Analytics can do for you but I want to keep this article fairly brief and more of an intro into SEO. I hope to write an in-depth article about Google Analytics soon. When I do I will link to it from here.

4. Conversion Form and Goals – Every site needs a method of contact that is traceable. If you only have email addresses listed on your site for visitors to contact you, there is no definitive way to track the number of users, frequency of conversions, or from what pages these users are contacting you. Without this kind of information it is virtually impossible to improve your site’s performance. We recommend that a short ‘Contact Us’ form is placed on every page of a website. The more chances you give users to ask questions or to submit their information, the more chances you have in generating a sale or other type of lead. This coupled with Google Analytics allows us to track which pages on your site “convert.” Knowing which pages work and which don’t allow you to tailor the rest of your content to appeal more to your visitors and increase conversions.

If you have any questions about any of this information or are interested in seeing how InterWorks, Inc. can help you formulate a SEO plan for your website, please feel free to contact us today by using our contact form or adding a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

More About the Author

Grant Bivens

Web Developer / Search Analyst
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