Anyone can build a website, but are they doing it right and what does SEO have to do with it? One of the most underestimated aspects of web development is SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Let’s start with the basics, the definition of Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting free, organic or natural listings on search engines. In short, it is the way search engines read your website. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines read certain snippets of your website code in order to display that to the user. Before I make your head spin, let’s start with some simple visual examples;
The link for this blog is http://rarepixeldesign.com/2013/01/what-is-seo-and-do-i-need-it/ – it has the date the blog was created, the title of the blog and of course, the url where the blog is located. This helps search engines index the content for users, from content, date, location of blog, etc. Sounds simple, right? Same goes for other pages, www.rarepixeldesign.com/about-us or rarepixeldesign.com/contact etc. There are also other snippets of code that create even further customization, below is an example of one of our clients SEO;
A good developer can choose how to display the website title & slogan, the website URL and the website description. They can also choose which sitelinks they do not want on display (sitelinks are not automatically given to a website, another blog about sitelinks will follow soon). Whenever you share your website on a social medium like Facebook for example, it will take some of those snippets of code to create a beautiful display of your website. Look below for an example of another client, sharing the website we created for them on Facebook;
In this case, Facebook ‘took’ the picture, the url, the description and the title/slogan of the website. This was done because the SEO of the website was created properly, making it easier for Facebook to read the code properly. Below are some examples of bad SEO;
– Entire website made in Flash – search engines do not read Flash well and most Apple products do not support Flash anymore. Replace with newer technology such as HTML5.
– Entire website made up of IFrames – search engines do not read IFrames well, especially if all the pages are made of IFrames.
– Entire website consists of popups instead of pages. Example, clicking on “About Us” on a website opens a popup, rather than bringing you to the About Us page. Not only is it annoying, but not SEO friendly.
– Overuse of metatags – it used to work in the 1990′s but search engines no longer rely solely on metatags for their ranking because of abuse. The more tags you use, the more diluted each tag becomes.
– Invisible keywords/text – this can get your website banned from search engines. Just don’t do it.
– Duplicated content in multiple websites – so you decided to buy multiple domains, own multiple companies with the same service so you decided to use the same content on all of them to save time. This is very bad, search engines see this as spam when they realize their crawl bots are picking up the same information in multiple websites. Your website can be seen as spam and banned from search engines.
– If you see a developer’s website have links like www.mywebsite.com/54H74/cat_00.php or something along those lines… RUN like there is no tomorrow. This is a common sign that the developer does not understand SEO.
– Deploy Black Hat SEO techniques. These are unethetical practices that some developers use to get their clients to #1 ranking. They work temporarily, but long term can cause headaches if search engines find out. Always ask your developer if they use White Hat SEO techniques. If they don’t know what you mean, walk away.
There are many more common bad & good practices, but these are the first that come to mind. Below is a before and after SEO example of one of our clients. When we brought them onboard, they were on the fourth page of Google with no SEO. Two months after, they have clean, organic SEO, first page Google Ranking and a healthy fanbase.
No point in making a website if you cannot be found. All of our packages include basic initial SEO setup. If your developer does not include this on your website, you might want to reconsider your relationship with them.
This article was written by Paula VonKretschmann
Paula is the strategic analyst and logistics force behind Rare Pixel Design. She specializes in metrics tracking efforts, virtual monetization and new media marketing. Paula currently studies Neuropsychology and Human Centered Design at the University of Colorado Denver. In her spare time she enjoys gaming, gardening and the great outdoors.