Articles

How is SEO Like Painting?

Thinking About Search Engine Optimization

 

image of painting the word SEO
A couple of days ago I was painting and I got to thinking about how similar it can be to doing search engine optimization on a website. I wanted to share a few parallels I identified.

First, whether you are painting or doing SEO, don’t lay it on too thick. With paint, if you put too much in one spot it will drip, it will look unsightly, and you’ll have to go back and correct it. This is just as true of SEO. One of the things that search engines dislike is when you cram too many keywords into your website. For a long time, some SEO professionals would put as many keywords on the page as they could manage in an effort to rank high in the searches. After a while Google began to penalize websites that were keyword cramming. Your keywords should not represent more than about 3% of your total content on any particular page. You will have more readable content that way, and you won’t have to deal with drips.

Another area that is like painting is that you usually have to do more than one coat. After the first coat of paint dries, you almost always you have to go back and either repaint the entire surface or sometimes just touch up some areas. You have to do the same thing with search engine optimization. While Google and the other search engines don’t tell us what is in the formulas, or algorithms, they use to determine rankings, there are hints usually. Sometimes there are even more specific announcements when the algorithm is updated.

What that means for the business owner is that your website has to be reviewed on a regular basis to be sure that there aren’t any changes required for SEO purposes. I recommend reading as much as you can if you are interested in maintaining your own SEO, and Search Engine Land is a great online resource. I recommend looking at it at least once a week and are you also can subscribe for updates.

What Color Is Your SEO?

Using the right tool when you are painting makes the difference between putting it on too thick or too thin. If you use a brush when you should use a roller, you might get streaks. If you use a roller and you’re not careful, you can get paint on places you didn’t plan to, so it’s important to use the right tool. It is also important when you when you are doing SEO. I have used a number of tools that help me identify the right keywords to optimize for. One of the most common is the Google keyword planner, a free tool. If you have a Google Ad Words account (also free) you can use the keyword planner. It will help you identify good keywords for your website or your online advertising campaign. One thing to keep in mind when using a keyword tool is to identify unique keywords that apply to your business, but that aren’t heavily competed for among your competitors. In other words, look for an opening or a niche that you can exploit on your website and to attract viewers to your website.
The last piece of advice I have is when in doubt, hire a professional. If you don’t know how to paint or you’re not very good at it, you would hire a professional painter. The investment insures that the outcome will be professional and you will get the results you expect. The same is true with search engine optimization. Hiring a search engine optimization professional will help you achieve your goals. A good search engine optimization professional will not make promises about getting getting you on page 1 of Google in a few days time. Generally speaking, that’s a promise that can’t be fulfilled and it indicates that this individual or company may not really know what it’s doing. Be careful when you choose someone to do your SEO. Just as you would check the references of a painter, you should also check the references of a search engine optimization professional.

SEO – A Combination of Art & Science

Search engine optimization is not magic, but it does require knowledge and skill. It is part art and part science. Just as a paintbrush in the hands of an amateur can create a big mess, so too can putting a paintbrush in the hands of a skilled artist create a masterpiece.

I won’t promise you that your search engine optimization process will be the next Picasso, but I can tell you that if you engage a professional, or you spend time doing the research for yourself and learning how to do it properly, you will reap benefits. Those benefits will be more traffic to your website and ultimately, the most important thing, more sales.

Frequently Asked Questions From My Clients about SEO

photo of white hat for SEO blog

Common Questions About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I am extremely fortunate to work with a wide variety of small business owners, professionals, and non-profit organizations. That range of businesses continually challenges me to be sure that I am on the leading curve of trends in SEO, marketing, public relations and communications. I thought it might be helpful for other business owners to read some of the Q&A from my clients. If you have a question that’s not here, just email me and I’ll answer it in an upcoming blog. Thanks!

Q: What the heck is SEO and do I really need it?
A: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process that professionals use to enhance your website so that is shows up higher in the search engine results. Google, Bing and other search engines have specific things they are looking for when determining which websites to serve up in a search. Those things change several times a year, so hiring an SEO professional is an advantage for your business.

Read the other FAQs About SEO.

 

10 Ways to Improve SEO

 

seo button

Five years ago, most of us had probably not even heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) let alone understand its importance to our small business websites. Back then, webmasters would fiddle around with things called meta tags, alt tags and keywords in some mysterious way that sometimes helped our websites get more traffic from the search engines. It was not uncommon to throw in a laundry list of keywords that may or may not have anything to do with your website, including the name of your competitors as a way to try to get their search results sent your way.

But today, SEO is another story. Search engines have changed and are more focused on delivering better results to searchers based on what is actually on a website and not a list of words stuck in a meta tag. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few tricks you can use to enhance your SEO efforts, though. But the real bottom line is that great content is key to getting good search engine results. Without that as your starting point, all the rest of these tips will be useless.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 things you should include in your SEO efforts. CSEOgraph

  1. Page Descriptions. This is a short paragraph that summarizes the content of the page. It somewhat replaces the meta tag, but should be specific to that particular page. Page descriptions are very important in helping search engines figure out what your website is about. Do not use the same description on every page. You will have to go to the Admin section of your website to add these in.
  1. Page URLs. Each page should have its own unique URL that is related to the content on that specific page. This is what will show up in the address bar when someone clicks on the page. An example is www.mywebsite.com/SEO-basics. You can see that the page URL immediately describes to users what they will find on the page. Again, do not use the same one over and over. You can include the name of your company in the page title.
  1. Page Titles. These also appear in the Admin section and is a brief few words that describe what is on the page. Each page should have a different title.
  1. XML Sitemap. If you do not have an XML Sitemap on your page, go to the Google Webmaster Tools and create one. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.
  1. Alt tags. Use alt tags for every photograph on your website. Since search engines cannot “see” photos, they rely on alt tags to tell them what is in the photograph. Also, alt tags are used by disabled individuals who cannot see the screen. Keep the tag brief, but descriptive of what is in the photo. Use the word “image” or “photo” at the beginning of the description.
  1. Heading tags. H1, H2, H3, etc. are all heading tags. Typically the H1 tag is used for the headline at the top of the page. It should be a brief summary of what is on the page. Subheads or section heads can be smaller – H2 is smaller than H1, H3 is smaller than H2, etc. These tags are picked up by search engine crawlers and provide more clues about the content of the site.
  1. Simple Navigation. Try to keep your menu as simple as possible and make sure that it does not include industry jargon in the navigation. There is a reason that most websites use “About Us” and “Contact Us” – users know what those mean and what to expect when they click on them. Getting too fancy or clever with navigation menus can actually confuse users, so use the KISS (Keep It Simple Sunshine) principle.
  1. Text Links. The content on one page of your site is most likely connected to other pages. Help your readers by adding text links to let them jump to that content quickly. If you are writing about SEO and you have a whole article on “SEO definitions” on another page, then create a link that will take the user to the article. These connections are crawled by the search engines and will improve your SEO results.
  1. Anchor text. This is related to text links. The anchor is the word used to create the link – in the above example, it would be “SEO.” Use these more descriptive keywords instead of things like “click here” or “learn more.” A short keyword gives the search engine a better clue.
  1. Keywords. While this is listed last, it may be the most important of these 10 tips. Having the right keywords identified before you start writing for your website is very important. There are many keyword tools, including Google’s, to get help with building a list of appropriate keywords. Keywords and phrases should represent the things that your users/customers are most likely to type into a search engine to find you. Do you sell carpet? Then “carpet” and “flooring” are obvious keywords. “Floor coverings” and “shag carpet” and “rugs” should also be on your list. Once you have a list, use your keyword planning tool to learn which of these words are searched for the most. Look for niche phrases that might not have a lot of traffic, but represent an opportunity to garner visits. For example, “pine wood flooring” might not have a lot of searches but if you carry a lot of it, you might want to choose that keyword anyway. Try to narrow down your keyword list to a dozen or so really important ones, then focus on one or two of them on each page of your website. If you have a page but no matching keywords for it, then consider whether you should revise either the keywords or eliminate the page. Do NOT throw keywords into your content willy-nilly. First, it makes your content sound like gibberish to the reader. More importantly, keyword stuffing will get you penalized by Google and they might just remove you completely from their search engine. Your content should read naturally and keywords should be incorporated where they make sense. That’s why you should select the keywords before you write your content. Trying to add them in later could make your copy sound unnatural.

Understanding SEO and using it properly can help your small business website show up better in search engine results. Make sure you are showing up for the right results, though, and are focusing on things that will drive business not just traffic. As always, set up a tracking mechanism for leads that are generated by your search results, such as a contact form. Be sure to check your Google Analytics regularly to understand which keywords are working for you, and which you should think about changing.

There are other things, of course, that you can do to improve your SEO…great content, link building, website design, etc. But these 10 things will definitely get you on the right path. If you need help with SEO for your company website, call Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 or E-mail info@DeppeCommunications.com.

10 Tips to Improve Search Engine Optimization for Your Business Website

Five years ago, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was completely different. Webmasters added meta tags to the website to give Google and other search engines clues to what the website was about. In addition, it was not uncommon to throw in a laundry list of keywords that may or may not have anything to do with your website. That often included the name of your competitors as a way to try to get their search results sent your way.

But today, SEO is another story. Search engines have changed and are more focused on delivering better results to searchers based on what is actually on a website and not a list of words stuck in a meta tag. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few tricks you can use to enhance your SEO efforts, though. But the real bottom line is that great content is key to getting good search engine results. Without that as your starting point, all the rest of these tips will be useless.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 things you should include in your SEO efforts.

Page Descriptions.

This is a short paragraph that summarizes the content of the page. It somewhat replaces the meta tag, but should be specific to that particular page. Page descriptions are very important in helping search engines figure out what your website is about. Do not use the same description on every page. You will have to go to the Admin section of your website to add these in. CSEOgraph

Page URLs.

Each page should have its own unique URL that is related to the content on that specific page. This is what will show up in the address bar when someone clicks on the page. An example is www.mywebsite.com/SEO-basics. You can see that the page URL immediately describes to users what they will find on the page. Again, do not use the same one over and over. You can include the name of your company in the page title.

Page Titles.

These also appear in the Admin section and is a brief few words that describe what is on the page. Each page should have a different title.

XML Sitemap.

If you do not have an XML Sitemap on your page, go to the Google Webmaster Tools and create one. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Alt tags.

Use alt tags for every photograph on your website. Since search engines cannot “see” photos, they rely on alt tags to tell them what is in the photograph. Also, alt tags are used by disabled individuals who cannot see the screen. Keep the tag brief, but descriptive of what is in the photo.

Heading tags.

H1, H2, H3, etc. are all heading tags. Typically the H1 tag is used for the headline at the top of the page. It should be a brief summary of what is on the page. Subheads or section heads can be smaller – H2 is smaller than H1, H3 is smaller than H2, etc. These tags are picked up by search engine crawlers and provide more clues about the content of the site.

Simple Navigation.

Try to keep your menu as simple as possible and make sure that it does not include industry jargon in the navigation. There is a reason that most websites use “About Us” and “Contact Us” – users know what those mean and what to expect when they click on them. Getting too fancy or clever with navigation menus can actually confuse users, so use the KISS (Keep It Simple Sunshine) principle.

Text Links.

The content on one page of your site is most likely connected to other pages. Help your readers by adding text links to let them jump to that content quickly. If you are writing about SEO and you have a whole article on “SEO definitions” on another page, then create a link that will take the user to the article. These connections are crawled by the search engines and will improve your SEO results.

Anchor text.

This is related to text links. The anchor is the word used to create the link – in the above example, it would be “SEO.” Use these more descriptive keywords instead of things like “click here” or “learn more.” A short keyword gives the search engine a better clue.

Keywords.

While this is listed last, it may be the most important of these 10 tips. Having the right keywords identified before you start writing for your website is very important. There are many keyword tools, including Google’s, to get help with building a list of appropriate keywords. Keywords and phrases should represent the things that your users/customers are most likely to type into a search engine to find you. Do you sell carpet? Then “carpet” and “flooring” are obvious keywords. “Floor coverings” and “shag carpet” and “rugs” should also be on your list.

Once you have a list, use your keyword planning tool to learn which of these words are searched for the most. Look for niche phrases that might not have a lot of traffic, but represent an opportunity to garner visits. For example, “pine wood flooring” might not have a lot of searches but if you carry a lot of it, you might want to choose that keyword anyway. Try to narrow down your keyword list to a dozen or so really important ones, then focus on one or two of them on each page of your website. If you have a page but no matching keywords for it, then consider whether you should revise either the keywords or eliminate the page.

Do NOT throw keywords into your content willy-nilly. First, it makes your content sound like gibberish to the reader. More importantly, keyword stuffing will get you penalized by Google and they might just remove you completely from their search engine. Your content should read naturally and keywords should be incorporated where they make sense. That’s why you should select the keywords before you write your content. Trying to add them in later could make your copy sound unnatural.

Understanding SEO and using it properly can help your website show up better in search engine results. Make sure you are showing up for the right results, though, and are focusing on things that will drive business not just traffic. As always, set up a tracking mechanism for leads that are generated by your search results, such as a contact form. Be sure to check your Google Analytics regularly to understand which keywords are working for you, and which you should think about changing.

There are other things, of course, that you can do to improve your SEO…great content, link building, website design, etc. But these 10 things will definitely get you on the right path. If you need help with SEO for your company website, call Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 or E-mail Kim@DeppeCommunications.com.

More Search Engine Changes with Google Pigeon

It was either Panda 4.1 or Pigeon, depending upon which name you like better, but in late October Google updated its search algorithms again. Some larger brands experienced a drop in traffic, but most smaller seo buttonbusinesses were not affected. Here’s a peek at what has happened recently in the constantly-changing search engine world.

The rise of mobile is affecting how people conduct online searches, and it means that search engines are adapting. From more people talking to their phones to the addition of phone numbers in search engine advertising, mobile is changing search. Today, more people conduct searches on phones and tablets than on desktops.

You will be seeing more advertising at the top of your Google results pages, too. And it will be more difficult to tell which are the ads and which are the organic (or unpaid) results. Google’s Knowledge Graph will continue to be more prominent on search pages and this will also push organic results lower. The Knowledge Graph is useful for searchers because it delivers answers right up front, so the user doesn’t even have to click to the website for an answer. Great for users, but not so great for businesses who want to drive more visits to their websites.

Google will continue to use your past search history and your social media activity, as well as your geographic location, to fine tune the results it gives you. This has especially been beneficial on mobile, as more local results are now showing up in mobile searches.

The Pigeon update is also increasing the number of “ranking signals” it uses, so directories of websites (Yellow Pages, White Pages, Yelp, etc.) are going to show up more prominently in search results. Again, this will tend to push down local websites even further in the results.

What does this mean for you? It is important to regularly check your website to make sure you are using the best keywords and phrases for your business. Understanding where you rank, especially compared to your competitors, is also critical.

Deppe Communications can analyze your website and provide you with a report that includes recommendations for improving your search engine optimization. Call us at 904.524.0170 or Email Kim@DeppeCommunications.

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