Q: I’ve been working with a designer on my new business website. It’s gorgeous! Except my mentor warned me that the new design isn’t “SEO friendly.” What does that mean?
A: SEO is search engine optimization and it’s a really important aspect of website implementation. Too few designers know much about it, however, so it’s often ignored or dismissed.
Here’s the basic idea: If you’re like most businesses, you’re building a website to attract new customers. You have visions of them searching for your product or service on Google, on their mobile phone or even on a voice search system like Siri. Smart.
Now what if I told you there were certain things you could do on your site that would increase the chance that someone searching for your product or service would find you? That’s exactly what search engine optimization is about, and most of it’s really easy.
For example, one of the things Google itself tells us is that if you have a web page about a certain product or service, make sure that the key word or phrase appears multiple times on the page. Seems ridiculously easy and obvious, but you’d be surprised how often companies don’t do this.
It starts with the title of the page, the text that is used as the “bookmark” if someone wants to save the page. If I went to bookmark your home page, for example, would it include words that describe the product or service you offer? If you’re a pizzeria, do you say “pizza”? Do you indicate where you’re located? Note that including a picture of your location on a map doesn’t cover things: search engines don’t (yet) analyze images.
Then there’s what SEO people call the ‘off page’ aspects, most importantly inbound links. To turn this into a question: how many other web pages on the net point to your page or site? More — better, but not just any site, you want high quality, high-authority sites. This is probably the single hardest part of SEO work, but it’s also what can turn a moribund site into something where there are hundreds of visitors a week and dozens turning into paying customers.
Which reminds me, the other half of this coin is that a good site design is one that focuses on converting visitors into customers. That should be measurable and something you can tweak and improve every month, because it’s always easier to double your conversion than double your traffic!
Believe it not, this is really just the tip of the SEO iceberg. Want to learn more? I actually teach SEO classes through BoulderDigitalArts.com in town.
Dave Taylor has been involved with the online world since before the creation of the internet and runs the popular Ask Dave Taylor tutorial site. You can also find AskDaveTaylor on Facebook and chat on Twitter with him at @DaveTaylor.