The FYI of SEO in Web Design
SEO is everywhere on the internet and there are a lot of “experts” giving plenty of advice on how to do it right, but how do web designers use it effectively? It’s a subject that designers think they understand, but opinions and facts can easily get entangled, making itconfusing the business owners who need to understand it the most. I’m going to tell you what you all you need to know about SEO.
With SEO Everything IS Black and White…
But the only techniques worth using are White-hat SEO.
These are the safe and long term result producing techniques that the major league search engines recommend as part of good web design. Here are a few of what we think are the main White-hat SEO techniques:
Content is KING
There’s no point in having a website with bad content. A search engine is like a nightmare editor: it will catch you out on poorly written work. The best way to optimise your site for search engines is to produce excellent writing. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft endorse websites that are the most appropriate for any given search.
Mark Up Matters
Semantically structure your mark up to help search engines understand the content of your webpage. Make it simple, stupid! Search engines like proper heading and titles. Use CSS to separate design elements from your content to make it easier for the search engines to find what they’re looking for. If your titles are declaring certain content, make sure you deliver.
Keyword is Key
You’ve got to create your website with well researched keywords and phrases in mind that you think your customers may use to find your particular site. Keep in mind that single words are not the most effective. Instead, try multi-word phrases that are much more specific to your product/service and use them effectively throughout your website.
Make the Link
The rule here is Quality over Quantity. You want links from other web pages that are regarded highly by search engines and relevant to the content of your page. The amount of quality inbound links to your site has an effect on how high up the search engine your site is placed.
White-hat SEO’s evil twin, Black-hat SEO, uses techniques that are disliked by search engines. Unfortunately, websites that employ these techniques can suffer a number of punishments ranging from ranking penalties to complete removal from the index. Some websites can be banned. For the love of Google, do not do the following:
Hidden content is the sneaky, underhanded content hiding within the code for a site that is stuffed with keywords. It can also be hidden from users by using CSS, ridiculously small text or coloured text on the same colour background. If search engines catch a whiff of this, your website will be penalised or banned altogether. You’ve been warned.
Stuffing is for Turkeys
There are two main Meta tags that are used to inform search engines of the content on the page and when they’re used incorrectly they serve as an alarm to search engines that you’re using spam techniques to improve your ranking. Don’t stuff your site with Meta keywords. Google is smart, don’t take the risk trying to fool it.
Doorway to Destruction
Doorway pages are designed for search engines and not for your customers. These fake pages are stuffed with content and highly optimised for 1 or 2 keywords that link to a target or landing page. Search engine spiders/crawlers are able to detect these pages, alerting the powers that be, and this can result in being flagged and banned.
The temptation to link all kinds of crazy things to your website to increase traffic is understandable. But, it has the opposite effect. Link farms or free for all (FFA) pages list links of unrelated websites. This is unhelpful! Trust me when I say they won’t provide your sire with any increase in traffic. The only thing you can be sure of is the risk of having your site banned for participating in this scam.
The Internet is a Beast
SEO is important because it’s all about ranking. Obviously, a higher ranking is going to result in more customers, which is imperative for companies who make most of their money online. Good SEO can help these companies improve their organic traffic significantly. As you’ve seen, it’s not about the stuffing. You need an excellent game plan when it comes to SEO, and this is where we can help. We know a lot about how search engines work.
The internet is unfathomably large. Without search engines to help us navigate through the approximately 50 billion indexed web pages, we’d be lost in all the disorder. Search engines help find order amongst the chaos by creating an index that directs you to the most relevant website for your search query. Life is moving fast and this index changes with it. Every day new websites are added, existing pages are redesigned and new content is uploaded. The internet is fluid, dynamic. And search engines need to stay up to date. Enter the crawlers.
Search engines uses crawlers to create search engine result pages by finding your website via a link from another website or via the Add URL page. Google only follows href and src links. The crawlers then process this information and index it. When a person enters a query, the search engine analyses their index and generates results of the most relevant websites. In order to do this effectively, search engines use a ranking system. There are numerous factors that are taken into consideration and your SEO success depends on your understanding.
So, relevancy is determined by over 200 elements. And I’m going to list them all right here. No, no I’m not. Because it’s literally impossible to discuss them all with you right now. We can, however, look at a few of the main ones.
Links: When I’m talking about links, I’m referring to PageRank which is the link analysis algorithm used by Google. It takes the quantities of links into account and essentially translates every link to a website as a vote for that particular website. Essentially, the more links you get, the higher you will rank, which is why some people lean towards farm linking. Remember when I told you that quality comes before quantity? Well, not all links are created the same. Links from authoritative websites will have more influence than links from less prevalent websites. Keep your links relevant, or suffer the consequences…
Keywords: The keyword distribution on your page is extremely important as Google checks how often the search query can be found on it. If the search query appears in your domain, url, and content for example, your page will be considered more relevant and will thus rank higher. Just don’t over-do it.
Site Age: Is it just Google who honours the knowledge that comes with age?! Google perceives older websites to be more authoritative than new websites. Take that you young whippersnappers.
Fresh is Best: Frequently updating your website is a good idea. It keeps you on Google’s mind. Adding new pages and deleting old ones indicates that your website is still alive and kicking.
Algorithm Updates: Beware the Penguin and the Panda. Google is pretty damn smart and over the last few years they have made a number of algorithm updates. These updates increase the quality of search results and help to fish out the phonies. Their two most recent updates, Panda and Penguin, have made the biggest impact. The Panda update went into effect in February 2011 and it affected almost 12 % of all search results. The Penguin update was announced in April 2012 and affected approximately 3.1% of search queries. When I say affected I mean that a sudden drop in traffic has been caused by a change in the ranking algorithm. Penguins and Pandas are super cute animals, but in the land of SEO, they are vicious and you need to be aware of them.
If you want your website to achieve greater success on search engines, you’ve got to get your SEO just right. Doing it the wrong way can seriously mess with your reputation and your business. At Activate Design, we can help. Get in touch.
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