1. What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the ongoing process of crafting and updating your website’s content, structure, keywords, and links in order to raise your page ranking in user searches. When most people use search engines, they type in 2-5 keywords to deﬁne what they are looking for. If the search engine ﬁnds a match for those keywords within the content of your site, the search engine will list your site as a result. The closer the keyword match (the more optimized your site is with those keywords), the higher your page will rank in the search engine results. Studies show (and we all know this to be true) that users will often stop looking after the first few (1-3) pages of results. If your website is not optimized for search engines it will end up so far down the search results that very few people will ever see it. Embedding keyword within your page and adding relevant links within your text (and relevant outside sites referring back to your site) will go a long way to boost your SEO rankings. Simplistically speaking, your site’s content and the outside link-backs to it are the two biggest factors in ranking your site on popular search engines.
2. How does SEO work?
Designed for humans or search engine bots? While Your Creative People designs your website for both humans and search engine bots, your human visitors will always be more important. The simple reason for this is that search engines only go as far as getting a person to your site, while humans are the ones that make judgment calls to purchase, to contact, or to engage you based on how your site engages them and what it communicates to them. Typically, if your site is not designed more for human visitors than for search engine bots, visitors will leave within the first 3-4 seconds of hitting your page (this is called a bounce).
Let’s talk about keywords. In order to rank well in Google (where about 85% of all searches are done), you need to add strategic keywords within your site’s content and underlying code. A domain name that's filled with commonly used or popular keywords can help you, right off the bat (if the keywords are also found multiple times within your site). In order to determine which keywords to use, draft a list of terms that you think your audience would use to define your business, product or service. Then do your own domain searches for those keywords and see where your website falls in the results (your “position”). Note your position next to each keyword. In buying new domain names, see if you can purchase several new domains for keywords you don’t rank very well for. You can also add those keywords to your site within your Meta tags, site description (more for your human visitors), page titles, images, and the content of your pages. Sound like a lot of work? It can be substantial and that’s why we offer both SEO services to do those things for you while also providing you with the option of doing those updates on your own through Backstage, our content management system. We’ll talk more about the practical ways in the latter parts of this series on SEO.
Remember, It takes time. Once keywords have been added to your site, it will take some time (typically 45-60 days) for a new or even a redesigned website to start getting search engine traction. It can take up to 6 months for a new website to be regularly crawled and substantially ranked. As search engines determine where to rank you, they factor in the amount of time your domain (and corresponding site) has been on the web and how much traffic your site has been receiving. The more time, traffic, links, total pages, and relevant keywords you have, the higher you will rank in a person’s search.
Also remember the critical factor in rankings: the more competition your website has (specifically for the keywords you are trying to rank for) has on the web, the more time you (or an SEO firm like Your Creative People) will need to expend to outrank them. No new website can get instant traction in less than 30 days unless they are doing a combination of almost daily optimization, paid search (Google Adwords, etc), and constant competition analysis. We also offer advanced services like these, but the dedicated labor comes at a price.
Create relevant outside link relationships. Positively speaking, having links to your site from other high-ranking, relevant sites (respected associations, suppliers, etc.) will increase traffic to your website, both from a human level and from the search engines. The important point to remember is that the quality, not the quantity of links, are what matters most.
Watch out! Relying upon certain types of outside links can be hurtful for the long-term if it is being done unethically. Placing hidden links beneath the code of your website may seem like a good way to get instant traction. Yes, this can temporarily help a site rank well, but it is an unethical means of SEO, looked down upon by Google and the other search engines. When Google finds the hidden links (and it will eventually), it blacklists your site. This blacklisted status can take you a while (often years) to dig out of. Do a quick Google search on “hidden links” and you’ll read lots of stories of this happening. At Your Creative People, we will never recommend or use hidden links in optimizing your site.
Directory listings are another form of “links” and they can be quite helpful for SEO purposes and can help raise your rankings if they’re created strategically. Some are great buys, but some are not worth your time. Link farms and the like are never a good option and can also get your site blacklisted. Do your homework and find respected directories that you fit your industry. It takes some good research and an investment of time to find and list your site. Directory listing research and placement is a service that Your Creative People can provide you with as part of our advanced search engine optimization package (to be covered in the latter parts of this series on SEO).
The actual content within your website, rate at which it is updated, and page count is important to the search engines. When you regularly update your page’s content (through Backstage or another CMS), you alert Google to the fact that your site is more active and that it should be crawled more regularly. That's why a blog can be critical to gaining traction. A blog that is built within your existing site can really help boost traffic from both your human visitors and search engines by pushing out new, relevant content that contain new places for keywords to be found. Blogs also allow you to push out new pages to increase your site’s page count (something Google factors in to ranking you).
And one more thing... Although regular updates to your pages (that contain specific embedded keywords) and link-backs from other sites, are two of the chief ways to increase your rankings, we have one more recommendation for you. Another means of both enhancing your ranking and communicating to your human visitors is adding video to your website. Check out this link to read more about Google’s favoring of video.
3. So, what can YCP do for me?
Advanced service (recommended for faster results). Your Creative People provides an advanced Search Engine Optimization service that digs deep to survey your competition’s rankings, identify short and long-tail keywords, set up both short and long-term strategies, and provide dedicated monthly SEO support, reporting back to you regularly on your site’s progress.
Blitz! Basic service (recommended for new sites/clients just getting started) We also offer Blitz!, our basic SEO service that is for those “do-it-yourselfers” out there. This service is just the start to putting down the foundation for long-term traction. We recommend this as the minimum for every client, and recommend our advanced level of service for clients who want faster success.
Our Blitz Backstage add-on and service includes:
1. We help you determine an initial list of relevant keywords to optimize for.
2. The add-on provides the ability to create Custom URLS (for example: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking vs. http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2011/01/panera-bread-and-salted-caramel-bread.html), which can increase SEO firepower and make it easier to create linkbacks and shares. The add-on allows you to create and update individualized custom page titles and descriptions, contains an automatic Google sitemap.xml generator.
3. We personally submit your site to Google Webmaster tools, get you listed on Google Places (link), and each month, optimize on-page keywords and links.
Get Some Expert Help
For more information on the SEO services we provide at Your Creative People, read through our SEO capabilities or get in touch with us.
Here is an overview of SEO, done by one of our SEO Experts.
Be sure to check out the SEO capabilities page of our website to learn more about what we can offer.
Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Development