Search Engine Optimization

Otherwise known as "SEO," search engine optimization is one of the most important elements of any website. Well written content is important, but what good will it do if search engines can't properly index it? Let's start with the basics.

What is SEO?

For starters, it's important to know that "SEO" is a term that has multiple meanings. A person who optimizes websites for search engines can be called an SEO. Likewise, the important information that describes your website to search engines in the header of your website is also called SEO. For our purposes, we will be discussing the latter. If you were to look at the code for your website you would probably (hopefully) see something that looks something like this:

<title>My website name</title>

<meta name="description" content="A description about my website. It is a place where we discuss and sell widgets, wongles and dinglehoppers as well as stuff and things" />

<meta name="keywords" content="widgets, wongles, dinglehoppers, stuff, things">

As you can see by the text that we've decided to highlight, there are 3 (three) main elements to SEO:

Title

The title usually describes your what you are writing about in a succinct manner. It's similar to the title of any essay or product. It should be short and to the point. You've only got 60 characters (including spaces and punctuation) to do this before it gets cut off by the search engines. Each page on your website should have a unique title.

Description

The description is where you can go into greater detail about your web page. It needs to be an intelligible paragraph that can be read by humans and it should contain the important keywords that your page or article is about. You've only got 160 characters to do this (in some cases 320... more on that later), so make this a brief synopsis about what your page is about.

Keywords

Keywords aren't really all that important in the endgame of your SEO, but they are a useful tool. Search engines used to use keywords to help rank a website but because they were abused by SEOs, they have been largely disregarded. What makes them useful is that you can use them to help guide you in writing your description. A good metaphor for this would be that of a musician learning their scales. Musicians don't perform scales on stage, but they do use them to help guide their decisions on the notes that they play in the moment.

You Can Do It

"Great!" you say "this is easy!". Hold on there buckaroo. It's not as easy as it might seem. The simple description above doesn't take into account that search engines have added ways to make sure that your web page description is accurate. Were there no verification in the example above, anyone could create a web page about anything they want and convince the search engines that it was something else. Just put your mind to work to realize how dangerous that could be.

THEY ARE WATCHING YOU!

There are all kinds of search engines out there. It's not just Google and Bing. There are bots crawling your website almost constantly, checking in on your claims. If you say that your web page is about water sports but the content is really about baseball, you're going to get knocked down in edge-rank or flat out excluded. But it's not always as blatant as that. Sometimes these things can come down to a matter of phrasing. In cases where your page may have intended to be about one subject, but in its finality, ends up being about another, it is important to revisit your on-page SEO to adjust the focus.

Muddy Waters

It's easy to get overwhelmed with SEO. Most websites include multiple products or services that all need to be addressed. Let's make an example of a real estate agency. Given what we know about this particular agency, they help buyers find residential property, commercial property, land, and rentals. In a simple view, the agency would want to rank locally for all four of those service/products. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is to try to get all of those products on their homepage and rank for all four at the same time on one page. While listing all of your services or a generalized description of them on your website is completely fine, it produces a muddy SEO result that doesn't focus on each product. People searching for your services aren't looking for all of them at once. Most likely they are searching for only one of your services at any given time. So what do you do to make it better?

Focus Focus Focus

One of the best ways to add SEO focus to your website is to list out your products/services and create a landing page for each one that focuses on that product or service ONLY. In the real estate example we spoke about above, we had four services. So we would create at least four dedicated landing pages.

EXAMPLE:

Residential Property Sales

A landing page that focuses only on Residential Property or "Home" sales. This within itself could also be broken up into subcategories in order to focus more deeply on other related keywords.

Commercial Property Sales

A landing page that focuses only on Commercial Property or "Business" Property sales. This within itself could also be broken up into subcategories in order to focus more deeply on other related keywords.

Land Sales

A landing page that focuses only on Land sales. This within itself could also be broken up into subcategories in order to focus more deeply on other related keywords.

Home Rentals

A landing page that focuses only on Home Rentals. This within itself could also be broken up into subcategories in order to focus more deeply on other related keywords.

Let's Talk About SEO

There are a lot of moving parts to SEO and considering it is a large part of the core foundation of a website, it is not something to be taken lightly. Chances are, by the time you read this, Google has changed the rules again. Let's have a conversation, shall we? Let's talk about SEO and all the good things and bad things that may be. (kudos to those who caught that reference).

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