Have you ever Googled yourself only to find that you landed on page 14 of the results? I know I have, and it left me a) pretty bummed and b) scratching my head thinking, “why?” At first, I attributed the results to my limited participation on the internet. But then I thought, “Nuh uh, I have Twitter and Facebook. Heck, I even have a blog, Flavors homepage and a LinkedIn and Delicious account, so what gives?”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of getting your website to the coveted, first page or even better, top 5 results of a Google search. It is a complex task that combines the efforts of paid search, contextual advertisements, paid inclusions, and deciphering the madness of the Google Page Rank System (mashable). When it comes to the Google page rank system, your popularity on the internet = your page rank. This seems to laugh in the face of the popularity ≠ influence argument. Regardless, this process is “determined by the number of links that are linking into your site with specific keywords and just how popular the pages are that contain those links into your site.“– eHow.com
For example, if we enter Gloria Lee as keywords, the search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing – pick your poison) determines the sites relevant given the keywords and the order in which it should be listed (Suite101)
So how do we manipulate the pecking order so that our website lands on the first page of the search?
- Produce good content – Search engines are primarily on the hunt for good and relevant information. If your site is laden with rich, content, then chances are, you’re site will appear in the earlier search pages. This means no to keyword stuffing.
- Get linked– partner with other websites, create valuable content, or ask for links. At times, inbound links can even trump compliant HTML and keywords, so create content or partnerships so that outside sources link your content to their page. Google looks not only at the number of links to your site, but also the source. The more reputable the source, the higher up the SEO ladder you climb.
- Register available domain names – snatch up all the .com, .ca, .net, .org, .info you can find because Google is gaga for domain names. Put simply, the search engine assumes that the website in question is going to be about you
- Mention yourself on your site – this follows the principle of keyword density. Google searches for certain words to determine the ranking of pages. It is important to include the full name whether it is for an organization or for an individual.
- Effective use of keywords – META tags, page titles, image ALT tags, website text and the sitemap are just some of the places where you can imbed your keywords and ultimately improve your search engine awareness
- Use tags – if you’re a blogger, you’ll have the functionality of tagging your posts. Google tries to recognize tags and use them to prioritize your site in its search ranking for those terms. 5 – 10 tags are recommended in each entry.
- Analytics – signup for free applications such as Google Analytics to track among many other things, visitors, keywords and bounce rates
Mastering the art of SEO is no small feat, and can take upwards of 6 – 12 months to perfect. Many factors claim to be king when it comes to SEO – content, imbound links, keywords, but patience is equally important. Google uses a complicated algorithm when running its page rank, so patience is critical for the work that is involved with SEO.