Monday, November 06, 2006

Making SEO Work on Your Landing Page

In part 1 of the SEO Fallacy article, we came to the conclusion that Search Engine Optimization is not only good, but it is essential. But what can you do about it?

Search engine optimization is all about putting your website into a position where the search engine bots will place your page in a top position for a specific keyword search. For example, if I were to search for the term "pet supplies" in Google, I would expect a very relevant website (such as to appear in the free search results. Now don't get this confused with the paid search results which can be found at the top of the page, highlighted or down the right column of the page (for most search engines). These Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) listings are based on paying for an ad position. For free (or organic) listings, the search engine will determine which result is the most relevant for the queried keyword. Organic listings have a few big benefits:

1) They Are Free!
2) More people click these (especially in the high positions) than they do the paid ads.
3) The people who click the free listings are more likely to buy the product.

Of course, how do we know what Google (or any search engine for that fact) considers "relevant"? We don't! But we can observe and by doing so, we can determine what things are important and what things are not. One thing that we do have control over is the website content itself. Through much analysis and observation, people have determined that the following components of a landing page do (to some extent) have an impact to how a search engine bot will judge a page:

1) The Meta-tag Title: Very Important! Choose your title to have relevant keywords to what you want your customers to find.
2) H1 header tags: Almost as important! For one, USE it (but only once per page!) Make sure it is in a high position on the page.
3) Keyword Meta-tag: Some importance, but do not dwell on this one (or overdue it either!)
4) Description Meta-tag: Little importance for SEO, but could be important for getting clicks.
5) Body Content: Of course, using your targetted keywords in your content is important (but again, do not overdue it!)
6) Using the "alt" tag for images: Using the ALT tag for images gives the search bots more content to index.

A few things that do not seem to make much impact:

1) Other Meta-tags: Especially the Robots tag, which, if done improperly can actually send spiders away.
2) Repetitive Keywords: Repeating the same keyword over and over usually results in being punished.
3) Multiple H1 tags: Spiders will look down upon more than one H1 tag and may even ignore the site because of it.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to very easily make your website much more search engine friendly. Some people put these things in by luck, but any SEO expert will tell you that these tips should be the basis of the entire webpage you are designing. A few extra tags and a little bit of keyword placement in the right areas can take a website that is not indexed into a top 10 organic position.

- Matthew Bredel

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