Over the last seven years, search engine marketing has developed into the hottest Internet marketing option available. What was once a simple process of choosing strong keywords and creating a set of well-designed meta tags, has now developed into a refined and strategic methodology for those seeking success in the engines. In the pursuit of creating the best campaign possible, there are several key elements that can make your site more appealing to the search engines.
Search Engine Optimization Components
Sites that are most popular with search engines are those with an enormous amount of relevant content. The more information you can provide a consumer seeking answers, the better. The search spiders also identify with this relevant content, making it easier for them to find your site as well. Spiders are the automated programs used by the search engines to crawl the Internet. They seek, find and add new pages to their massive databases everyday. (The more sites an engine can add, the more popular they will be with those seeking information.) Sites are found by the spider visiting submitted pages to its index, or by following links that are presented on sites throughout the Internet. And relevant content is what it is looking for.
In order to protect your investment of time in writing your site content, you should be aware of some of the things that can prevent the spider from correctly indexing your site. Site development with the use of Flash files and highly integrated or overwhelming graphics can pose large problems for the spider to access your site. Designing your site in frames is also a major deterrent to the search engine spiders. Dynamically generated or database driven sites were once thought to cause problems for spiders, but now a handful of SEO companies use methods to allow the spiders to access this cataloged content. Be sure to ask your SEO candidates if this is something they can do should your site be set up in such a way.
Search Engine Optimization Key Terms – Key term research is the first and truly most important step in the search optimization process. They are the foundation of any successful search engine positioning campaign. Key terms are the queries that users enter into a given search engine in order to find the information they are looking for.
When looking into hiring an optimization company, you will want to identify that the company uses targeted research techniques to help identify your top level terms. It is important to understand that the key terms that are included in your search engine promotion campaign are relevant to the content on the website. Research will include naming the most and least searched terms, those that are highly competitive as well as those that should be used as secondary and tertiary terms.
Understanding user trends helps gain insight on just how people search the Internet and determine the path to either failure or success.
Search Engine Optimization Meta Tags
Meta tags are the descriptive terms used within the HTML code of a web page. They act as a summary of the content a search engine spider might find on that page and were once one of the controlling factors behind great search engine positioning. Current algorithmic studies have shown that the meta tag is responsible for little or no part of a site’s position and therefore is not as important as once thought. Although most engines don’t use meta tags in their ranking algorithms, they do display them in the results which can help with click through’s. Overall, the engines are unpredictable so keeping the meta descriptions strong, relevant and descriptive of the content it represents is too important to forego.
Search Engine Optimization Title Tags
The title tag is the most important overall component of search engine optimization since it is given great consideration by all the search engines. The title is also important because it is usually the hyperlinked sentence that leads to the site from the search engine results pages (SERPs), and users must be enticed to click on it. It is crucial to include your company’s top key terms within the title tag. Be sure that you can work closely with your SEO choice in order to create the best title tag possible.
Search Engine Optimization Body Text
Body text is another key component in the optimization formula. The text includes the words, phrases and descriptive paragraphs that tell the story of your business and its products and services. When working with your SEO provider, be sure to have them examine your current body text for organization, keyword balance and relevancy, just three of the elements that the search engines are looking for. A great balance in key terms, meta’s, your title tags and body text are as important as the submission itself. Without proper planning, you can count on less than desirable overall results within the engines.
Cloaking is commonly referred to as a spamming technique that uses specific software programs to send search engine spiders to alternative pages that are not seen by the user. These pages mislead the spider, allowing it to deliver the results based on these pages rather than the actual pages the public sees on the site. By doing this, companies look to gain rankings through what some feel is deception or spamming. Spamming is a serious offense in the eyes of the search engines, likely resulting in permanent banning of your site as it can discredit the results served.
Doorway, gateway or bridge pages are low quality pages used for to rank well when a specific key term is used at a specific search engine. They are created by inserting the key terms at specific positions within the HTML code and the text on the page. Often we see these pages built with repetitive key terms listed over and over, invisible text and other barred practices in addition to providing a poor user experience. In order for these pages to not be considered spam, they need to contain pertinent information that is relevant to the site.
Hidden text is an easily detectable spamming technique that incorporates your most popular key terms into the colored background of your web site’s pages. By changing the font color to the same as the background, SEO companies can fill the pages with enormous amounts of key term text that some believe is appealing to the search engine spiders. Those in the industry longer than a week will tell you that this technique is nothing more than a low end spamming campaign. Never allow your future SEO provider talk you into this trick unless you’re interested in being blacklisted by the engines.
Promotional domains exist as an alternative domain and are often times located on the SEO provider’s own server. The domain is used as a secondary, yet integrated domain location for the spiders to visit. If the primary domain has had past troubles within the engines or does not want to risk future problems, these promotional domains are built to take the hit. Unfortunately, if they exist on the provider’s server, they control all the work they have done for your site, rather than you owning it. Be careful, other than having your work held hostage, these domains will not brand your primary domain, which is one of the main goals of a good SEO program.
The single most important piece of information that we can give you regarding submitting your site, is that the task is completed manually. Most automated submissions do not work at all, but premium SEO providers avoid the possibility of making a mistake by not counting on a software program to add your site to the major engines. You should also make sure that the company you work with provides you with a submission confirmation for each of the engines your site has been submitted to. It is always good to create a paper trail record of the steps you are taking to increase your search engine rankings should anything go wrong later down the line.
When you’re investing your time, money and efforts into researching and eventually hiring a company to fulfill you optimization needs, you need to see results. Any respectable SEO firm will offer a comprehensive reporting service to show you your returns in an easy to read fashion. Typically, these reports can be provided to you at a variety of intervals, monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily as a real time report. Ask your potential provider how often you can receive feedback on your campaign and you’ll understand how serious they are about your project.
Top Questions to Ask Your SEO Provider
- From your initial inquiry to a request for proposal, is the company you’re investigating responsive? Do you have access to the President of the company, accounting and your project manager? Customer service is a vital component of any SEO campaign and may well set the stage for things to come. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the communication skills of any potential provider.
- Ask about the techniques they use to position your site. Be sure that spamming techniques like hidden text, mirrored sites, doorway pages and automated submissions are not used as part of your campaign. A recent scam in the SEO industry is to disguise pay-per-click services as legitimate, organic search engine optimization; make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
- Have the companies you are looking at provide you with a list of references that you can phone or e-mail with questions. There are no better endorsements for a company’s services than the clients who are actually using them.
- Understanding the return on your investment is as important as the investment itself. Great SEO providers will make it easy for you to understand the results your site is achieving through frequent reporting. Ask about the types of reports you can receive to track your progress and ask to view a sample.
- Always inquire as to where the optimization work that is done will be delivered. The only place that you want it is on your server. Companies that set up systems on their own servers can later become a nightmare to deal with. Should anything ever go wrong with your provider, you never want the fate of your site in someone else’s hands.
- As SEO is a specialty-marketing tool, you’ll want to be sure that you hire a company whose only business is SEO. Relying on a company who specializes in a variety of services will only detract from the services that you want most.
- Get a clear understanding of the contract you are entering into by requesting a complete proposal for your site’s project. This should outline the services provided, term of contract as well as cost for the duration of your project. Different companies use different terms of service varying from 6 months to a full year and beyond. Also, it’s important to understand the cancellation options should your directives change.
- A reputable SEO company should always be there to answer any questions you may have. It should also offer professional materials including informative proposals, appealing site design and downloadable service information. One thing that you should never hear are “too good to be true” promises. Unrealistic deadlines and “yes” answers to everything you ask can be suspect. Another simple rule also seems to apply in that you get what you pay for. If you think that the companies you are researching are too expensive, there’s a reason, they’re good at what they do. Instead of blowing a smaller budget on mediocre services, you’re better off delaying your project, saving your money and hiring a leading firm when you can afford it.
- Sometimes projects can grow in size as they develop. Most companies offer consulting services at an additional hourly fee aside from the proposal. It’s important to know upfront what these cost are in order to plan for it in your budgeting.
- The Internet is a global market, a fact that is often forgotten. Top SEO providers are able to help you reach that market by submitting your site to a vast array of international search engines. From the UK to Japan, people are looking for your services so ask your future provider if this is a service they provide.
- Keeping your site’s optimization up to date, relevant and continually submitted to the engines are vital components to ongoing optimization maintenance programs. Most comprehensive proposals will cover an explanation of these services, their costs and why they are important. Be sure to ask what types of services are available for your project and if they are flexible in case of future changes.