How SEO Works and How To Take Advantage of It
When people need to know something, where do they go? Right. The Internet. And more specifically, they go to the search engines. In fact overall, a whopping 85% say they find websites via search engines, according to SEO News and 82% of all homeowners look to the Internet according to NAR. Everyone is hooked up to the Internet in some way or another.
There are two ways to be seen on the major search engines. Many business owners are using “sponsored links” or “pay-per-click” to buy their way to the top of the search engines. However a recent study at Penn State shows that consumers use the “pay-per-click” only 15.8 percent of the time. So here’s your question of the day . . . can you afford not to have 84.2 percent of the market? And if you don’t have a website at all, can you afford not to even be in the game?
How do search engines work? They index your website by sending out “bots” (short for “robots”) to search the Internet for websites. Once they find a website, they examine the content on each page and record all the text and where it was found on the page. They then follow each link on your website and record all that data and where it was found as well. All this data is stored on enormous servers that compile it in complex mathematical algorithms that allow it to decide what will be relevant when a search is made.
Here’s the important part. When your prospect types in a search into the search engine, that search engine looks throughout its database for the most relevant pages and/or sites. Your website’s rankings are based upon how relevant the search engine thinks you are to the person’s search. So the question is, how can we make this more than a guessing game?
Ugh! Advanced SEO takes days to do properly, but it can be summarized into what I would call the standard seven major steps:
You can do everything else with regard to SEO properly, but if you have the wrong keyword phrases, I’m afraid that it is all for naught. Optimizing for the best keyword phrases is the most important aspect of SEO. Keyword phrases are those phrases that your prospect types into the search engine. Maybe they are looking for “luxury homes in Denver” or “Miami short sales”. There are sophisticated tools that exist, but a good free tool can be used from Google at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
Of everything that you do to your website, the Title code is one of the most important things. However more than this, the search engines count these words with extra credit in their algorithms. You may use something like Selling Luxury Homes and Condos in Denver, Cherry Hills and Littleton. Google will read up to 66 – 69 characters and Yahoo will read up to 110 – 120. The search engines will mix and match these words in various order.
Another very important part of your website is the description meta tag. By placing your keyword phrases here, you are further helping the search engine know what your website is all about. Description meta tags (and Title meta tags for that matter) should be found on each page of your website. But here’s a caution: don’t buy into template websites that automatically stuff the same title and description into every page.
In SEO, content is king since that is how the search engines know what your site is all about. So this is where you will want to place those excellent keyword phrases that you have found. Search engines will penalize you for “stuffing” your keyword phrases and viewers will find it odd to read. A good rule of thumb is to use one keyword phrase for every 200 to 300 words in your text. Make sure the text reads normally and flows well.
Just as a book has chapters and sub-topics, so too should a website have main headings and sub-headings. Just like your title, the search engines give extra credit to these areas as they describe in more detail what the page is all about. The “heading” tag is called an H1 tag and a series of sub-headings are called H2 tags. The use of heading and sub-headings also helps your viewer read your content easily, making more sense out of it and making them stay longer.
You may have been told that search engines can’t read graphics, java script or multimedia slide shows and that is true. However there is a bit of code called ALT tags (Alternative Text Tags) that will tell the search engine’s “bot” what this photo represents. Normally if you hover your mouse over a graphic, you should get a text box that pops up with a description. This can also be used to place a small piece of your keyword phrases. Be careful not to over use this by writing paragraphs.
If you have a link in your website, the “bots” will follow it. So let’s learn about what kind of links are valuable to driving your website higher in the search engines.
You should love internal links as they are the easiest way to increase your Page Rank (Google’s way of calling you important). Page Rank is counted by the number and quality of links that come to your website. However internal links from let’s say your Testimonial Page back to your Home Page actually counts as an inbound link as it is coming into the Home Page from another page.
A new algorithm change has been that of outbound links. But not to any other website but to highly reputable websites such as .edu sites (colleges and universities) and .gov sites (government).
When someone else links their website to yours, it is called an inbound link. Search engines like to see others who value your website so much that they link to your website. More importantly, reputable websites that link to yours give you even more ranking power. Be careful of “link farms” or some who promise you the moon if you do a “link exchange” with them.
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