SEO Part 4: Link Building

We have laid a foundation of keyword research and on-page optimization using keywords. Now let’s consider link building, the other side of SEO work, in a little more detail. Basic Idea The basic idea of link building is to get other websites to point to your website with links. Links are the clickable text or images that allows users to navigate the web. Often it is good to have your targeted keywords as the anchor text for these backlinks. Anchor text refers to the actual words of a link you click on. These days, it is best to use several variations of your keyword for backlinks.  It is now hazardous to have too many backlinks with anchor text that exactly matches your keywords, over and over. You want other websites with high authority or high PR ratings (well-known, high quality, and trusted sites) to have links pointing back to pages on your site. The search engines see this as other trustworthy users assigning great trust and authority to your website. It’s a little like word-of-mouth or like footnoting references in a book. The more high-quality links like this you can gain, the better your pages will rank in the search engines. There are good and bad ways to go about acquiring links to your web pages. The Bad You should not submit your website or any of its pages to lots of large, free web directories that are not edited or moderated. Link farms, or websites that exist for the sole purpose of giving people a place to get lots of free links from, are also a no-no. Google and other search engines see this as spammy and tend to devalue those links. Google may even penalize sites for links gained from these kinds of places. The rule of thumb is that easy is usually not good. You should not leave unrelated or excessive comments on blogs with backlinks to your own site.  You should also avoid posting excessively in forums with a signature that contains a link to your site. There was a day and age when these tactics were useful, but Google has wised up to it. Don’t be afraid to converse and share links in a natural way with people online around your niche, including on forums and blog comment sections. Just don’t be spammy or excessive with it. More and more, you should exercise discernment about guest blogging. This is still a useful strategy in which users from a shared niche invite one another to write guest posts on related blogs. A blog post either contains a link in the content itself, or in the author’s bio brief to the side or at the bottom. As long as the content is valuable and original, this is fine to do. Just avoid low quality blogs. Do not “spin” articles. That is, don’t use spammy tools that re-write the content of an original article you’ve written and then send it all over the web. The search engines will catch on to this and ignore your backlinks or even penalize you. They see that the articles are fake duplicates. In other words, these kinds of links look to the search engines just as artificial as they are. The Ugly Do not ever, under any circumstances, pay for links. This includes bartering or accepting prizes or free trials for the express purpose of gaining backlinks to your site. The Good Submit your website to well-edited, industry-related web directories. Dmoz.org is a good place to start. Offer to write high quality guest posts on related blogs. Write original, valuable articles on...

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SEO Part 3: On-Page Optimization

So far we have given an overview of on-page SEO and link building, and looked at how to approach keyword research. Now let’s look in greater detail at several components of on-page optimization. Again, this means making your website’s visible content and background code as helpful as possible to visitors and to search engines. You want to rank as high as possible in Google and Yahoo! search results. Keyword Use The rule of thumb for proper keyword use is to use them in a natural and descriptive way. You should aim for your target keywords to be relevant to, and highly descriptive of, the information or products on a given page. You do not want to try to use a really hot keyword phrase you found in your research if it has nothing to do with the rest of the content on your page. The context for good keyword use on a web page is…lots of text. Of course, keywords are themselves text, so you need to have a decent amount of written content on the pages you are trying to rank higher. Aim for no less than 500-1000 words per page. Keyword density, or how often you repeat your keyword in your paragraphs, is less important than it used to be. Just avoid being excessive or spammy with the number of times you use the keyword. Cramming in as many keywords as possible will hurt you, not help you. It may still be helpful, though, to include your keyword once or twice near the beginning of your page’s content. Behind the Scenes Beyond the visible content on your actual page, (primarily text), you should include your keyword in several other places. You should include it in the URL of your web page. Use the format “…/this-is-my-keyword-and-some-extra-words-maybe”. Dashes are always better than underscores for separating words. The meta data in the HTML code of your page is another place for keywords. If you work on this yourself, do not use the keyword meta tag, as it is no longer important to the search engines. Rather, include your keyword once in a compelling, branded call-to-action for a meta description. This is the text that appears under the clickable link to your page in search engine results. Aim for 130-150 characters. W5 Web Designs can help you with all the HTML aspects of on-page SEO work. How do you make multimedia like pictures work with your keywords? Google cannot (yet) automatically recognize that your pictures, audio files, or videos relate to your keywords. So you need to place your keyword in HTML alt tags for your pictures (just ask W5 how or let the team take care of it for you)! And consider writing out a transcript of the speech or lyrics for any videos or audio files. Functionality There are several more things to consider when working on on-page optimization. They relate to usability. It is important that users have a good overall experience when they visit your web pages. Of course this directly impacts your website’s image and approval among its visitors. But it also affects your SEO because search engines take into account how long users stay on a page once they navigate to it. The average length of time indicates how useful and relevant users found it to be to their original search. It can help to go online and test your page’s loading speed for free at Google PageSpeed Insight and consider the recommendations it gives for improvement. This tool will tell you how fast your page loads on desktop computers as well as on mobile...

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SEO Part 2: Keywords

In Part 1 we gave a brief overview of on-page search engine optimization or SEO. We also gave a brief overview of the SEO practice of link building. We will look at each of these in turn, in more detail. First, though, let’s talk about keywords. What Are Keywords? Keywords or keyword phrases are the strings of words you are trying to rank higher for in search results. Imagine you have an e-commerce website that sells large blue blazoomars. You want the page about that product on your site to rank higher in Google for the phrase large blue blazoomars than competing blazoomar companies’ pages. What Kinds of Keywords Are There? There are several kinds of keywords you should be aware of. Short tail keywords are keywords that only consist of one or two words, and are only not all that descriptive. Mp3 player would be an example. By contrast, long tail keywords refers to more descriptive, specific keyword phrases. They identify a much narrower category of products or information. Blue clip-on mp3 player would be an example of a good long tail keyword. For most people it is better to focus on using long tail keywords. They are more descriptive and the ranking competition is lower for them. It is true that the total number of times long tail keywords get searched for is lower. But the users who search for them are very targeted and will likely convert more, through purchases or signups. These people know what they want already when they perform a search. Another distinction between kinds of keywords is user intent. We can split this into two categories: transactional and informational. Are users who visit your site more likely to be looking for information? Or do they want to buy a product, service, subscription as soon as possible? This consideration should impact your keyword choices. Something else to keep in mind is that today’s search engines like Google are learning to provide relevant results to users based on conversational language. Users often search as if they were speaking to an actual person. So one kind of effective informational long tail keyword might be formatted as a question, for example What kind of blazoomar is best for teenagers? Keyword Research Once you have decided what kinds of keywords you need to be targeting in your SEO efforts, it is time to begin doing some keyword research. The goal of keyword research is two-fold. Keyword research helps you discover new keyword ideas, and find keywords with a good balance of high search volume and low competition. Search volume is the number of times people search for that phrase. Competition refers to how difficult it will be to rank high for that phrase. The ideal situation is that you find lots of relevant, descriptive keywords that have large search volume and also low competition. High competition keywords may have enormous search volume, but will be difficult to rank for. But many of the low competition keywords will have lower search volume. So you need to find the right balance. The growing phenomenon of local search is something else to keep in mind. If you are trying to rank higher as a brick-and-mortar business like a restaurant, focus your research on regional, state, or even town search analysis. You can find these options in many keyword research tools. One of the best tools right now is <a href=https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/Home>Google Keyword Planner</a>. It is free to use when you have an Adwords account with Google. There are a couple of other ways to find new ideas for keywords, too. One...

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SEO Part 1: What Is SEO?

Be Found Online! You may have heard of SEO, but perhaps have no idea what it is. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It involves optimizing your website’s content and visibility on the web, so that its pages rank higher in search engine results. Search engines are popular tools found at websites like Google.com and Yahoo.com. They help people browse the web to quickly find websites that have the information or products they are looking for. If you are a business owner with a website, you want your website’s pages to rank as high as possible in the results. When people search for certain terms or phrases (keywords), you want your site to appear on the first page of search results. This way you get more visitors to your site, and, if you play your cards right, this means more leads and conversions. More people will be likely to sign up for your newsletter, order your product, or connect with you another way. Keywords, or keyword phrases, are the foundation of SEO. We will talk more about keyword research and proper keyword use. But first let’s take a brief look at the two main branches of SEO. These two parts of SEO use keywords to rank your website higher in different ways. They are: on-page optimization, and link building. On-page Optimization The on-page work of SEO involves several things. One is the placement of good keywords and keyword phrases throughout the visible content of a website’s pages. But it is also important to optimize some of the background code that the search engines see, even if users don’t see it. W5 Web Designs is on top of all the modern standards and best practices for these on-page SEO concerns. They can make sure your website looks great and relevant both to users and to the search engines. On-page optimization must also consider overall design and usability of a website. When search engines like Google rank a web page for a certain search term or phrase, they take into account how long users have stayed on that page in the past. This tells the search engines how useful or relevant they found that page to be for their particular web surfing goals. So it is important that a website loads fast and has easy navigation and structure. It is also important that it contains content that is relevant to the topic or products described by the chosen keyword phrases. In the past SEO has been about using sneaky tricks and tactics to trick the search engines into ranking a site’s pages higher. But with today’s technology, the old tricks don’t work anymore and will actually hurt your search rankings. So it is better to think of on-page SEO as putting your best foot forward. It is  about providing the best experience possible to the people who visit your site. The expertise of W5’s design team and SEO services will help you do just that. We will speak in greater detail about on-page optimization in a separate post. For now let’s look at an overview of link building, the other branch of SEO work. Link building One of the other tests that search engines like Google use today to rank web pages in their results is backlinks. This refers to the number and quality of other websites that link back to your site’s pages. (Links are the clickable, sometimes underlined text that you click on to navigate to a new web page). You can think of this as a kind of digital word-of-mouth system built into the search engine code. The...

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Introducing: Search Engine Optimization

After designing a new website or revamping an existing one, the work is not yet complete! One of the important marketing services W5 provides to its clients is search engine optimization, or “SEO.” You may have heard of this in passing but do not yet understand what it is about. It involves moving your website’s pages higher up in the rankings in the results in “search engines.” Search engines like Google.com or Yahoo.com help people surf the web and quickly find websites they need. The details can become overwhelming the more you learn about SEO. But the basic principles are simple enough to understand and apply, with a little professional help. SEO is a way to ensure you are maximizing the number of people that come to your website from search engines like Google. You may be running paid ads for search. But it is important to optimize for “organic” search traffic as well. This means getting your site to rank higher in the unpaid, natural spots in search results, which is where most people click. Over the course of the next several blog posts, we will give a brief overview of SEO. We will talk about keyword research. We will define and give examples of on-page optimization. And we will talk just a little bit about linkbuilding, which is the other side of a full-orbed SEO strategy....

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