All About Search Engine Optimization

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What does that mean? It is a fancy name for the process of making a website display higher in the results of search engines.

When you do a search in Google or Bing, the goal is to have your website display as high as possible in the free (unpaid or natural) search results on particular keywords.


Which Tags Matter?

You have probably heard the importance of meta tags, but not all meta tags are still neccessary. In the early days of the internet, meta tags were horribly misused and now many of them are completely ignored by search engines. We follow Google’s suggested recommendations for Search Engine Optimization.

Which Keywords Should I Use?

It is very important to research which keyword combinations people are actually using. Simply guessing your keywords is not an effective strategy.

For example, let’s say you are a dentist located in Charlottesville, Virginia. You might think most people looking for a dentist will type in the keywords “dentist in charlottesville va.” Instead of guessing, we can do research to compare all the keywords variations and determine which one gets the most searches. We checked the following keyword combinations and were able to prioritize which keywords we should target based on how much they are used in an average month. Check out our results below:

Dentist Charlottesville Keywords

We originally guessed that “dentist in charlottesville va” was the best keyword to use. Our research proves that “charlottesville dentists” is used almost three times more than “dentist in charlottesville va.” Now we know our target keywords should be: charlottesville dentists, charlottesville dentist, & charlottesville dentistry because they are used the most.

Further research is often needed but this basic example explains the process of determining your target keywords. Researching your competitor’s websites will usually shed light on keywords you never thought of and can be a helpful tool.

Accurate Page Titles

Your page title tells both the visitor and the search engines what the topic of that particular page is. Each page should have a unique page title that includes the keywords you want to target. Avoid using extremely long page titles or stuffing them with unneeded keywords.

Meta Description

This meta tag gives search engines a summary of what the page is about. In many cases, Google chooses to display this information as the description of your page. It essentially allows you to “write your own ad” for Google. It is important to include relevant keywords in your meta description. Your meta description needs to have a compelling message that makes people want to click on your listing. It is your chance to stand out from all the other listings on the search result page. Your meta description needs to be in sentence format so it is easy to read. Each page should have a unique meta description.

Web Design Charlottesville

ALT Tags

Search Engines can’t read images. The ALT tag allows you to display alternative text for the image in case it can’t be displayed. The ALT attribute should provide information about the picture. It helps search engines understand your images since they can’t view them like we can. Check out the example below to illustrate:

What Google Sees

The only important information in the image tag above that Google sees is shown in bold. Google sees everything after the alt tag as the explanation about the image. In this case, it sees "Blue Cloud Studio Logo."

Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6)

These tags are used to present different types of content to users. The most important headline text on your website should be contained in a H1 tag. Heading tags typically format text contained in them larger than regular text. They are usually used as a visual cue to users that this text is important. These tags help create a hierarchical structure for your text content. Text in the H1 tag is viewed in search engines as more important than regular text. It is helpful to include keywords in these heading tags when appropriate.

Create a XML Sitemap for Google

A site map is a simple document that displays the structure of your website. It lists links to all of the pages that make up your website. An XML Sitemap file makes it easy for Google to find all your website pages. You can create a free XML sitemap at www.xml-sitemaps.com. This sitemap should be submitted directly to Google by using the free Google Webmaster Tools.

Create Fresh & Unique Content

The most important element to any website is the content. Websites that offer quality content and services will simply do better than sites that don’t. Fresh unique content will grow your website’s reputation with users and Google. We can't stress this point enough: Your site needs unique, quality content in order to perform well on search engines. Adding a blog to your website is a great way of delivering this fresh content.

To learn more about Search Engine Optimization, we recommend Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.