SEO - Search Engine Optimization
Cambria Search Engine Optimization
The Search Engine Optimization Guide was created to aid you in understanding some of the factors that change how search engines such as Google, Yahoo, rank sites.
If you have any questions, please contact me, our Art Director, Fred Aujero email@example.com, or Richard Crewdson, 650-328-9270 firstname.lastname@example.org
The desire is to have the search engines, such as Google, Yahoo etc, pick up your web page and rank it towards the top of their search listings. Google’s ranking algorithm is mysterious. There are many factors, but the ones that seem to make the most difference today are listed below.
Cambria's Search Engine Optimization Guide
- Use meta tags for the key words. Our designers do this as a matter of course – but the actual key word phrases need to come from the client.
- On each page, keep the page current. You do need to change content though for the changes to be recognized. A newer page with changed content gets a higher ranking. If you just change the date without changing content this will reduce the ranking. We have found that minor changes and an edit to the content often produce good results. Note that this is on a page by page basis, so if your site has many pages, each page needs to be changed. If you just do a global update, Google is smart enough to catch that you are trying to trick the system, and reduce your rank so you have to be selective. Updates typically take a couple weeks to take effect.
- On a page by page basis, creatively sprinkle in the key words repeatedly. Make it still legible for the reader. Use the key words in the text, as headings, in rollovers. The example http://www.addictioncareoptions.com/ used the same key word (drug addiction center) almost 20 times.
- Carefully determine what key word / phrase combinations you want to target.
- Try out these key words – enter them into Google Search and see what comes up. Keep systematic records of this. Evaluate the sites that are ranked towards the top – what are they focusing on. How can you clarify the message for the target audience.
- Once you have a good list of key words, prioritize them. Get at least a quick page with the top ones up and running quickly while you refine flow and content for the overall site. This way, at least you can maximize the current marketing dollars.
- Try various combinations. A drug rehabilitation organization may use variants such as Drug Addiction, drug rehab, Drug Rehab, Drug Rehabilitation etc. Case matters, as do word order (rehab drug is not the same as Drug rehab or drug Rehab). Make a careful log of what you find. Keep “fooling around” until you get a good set of word combinations that make sense.
- If yours is a local market, so to be sure to include geographic qualifiers like Bay Area, Palo Alto, Northern California, Redwood City, zip code etc
- Buy a period of wordtracker.com and use it for some time to see what users are actually entering when they use a search engine.
- Once you have the site content completed, give us your key phrases and we will customize our Rank Search program. This utility runs on a scheduler, tallies the ranking results of your set of key words. There is a small fee for this service, but it certainly will pay for itself. Based on these results, you can tweak your pages (see b above).
- Make sure your pages reference other sites, and have other sites reference yours. The more a given site is referenced by other sites; its weight in the rankings is increased.
- The Google toolbar can display your page ranking. A .5 rank is great. Most sites have .2 ranking. The best ones have .8 or .9. You can increase your rank by the number of sites that reference your site. The highest page rank is the tie breaker on which listing appears before another one. Try to be on the first or second ranked page for the given phrase.
- Each phrase references one page. So you may want a lot of pages, each focusing on a given search phrase.
- If you rank well with Google, you will probably rank better with the smaller search engines such as Yahoo or MSN. For instance, for a given phrase, Cambria was the 22nd listing (page 2); this same phrase was 5 on page 1 for Yahoo, and 4 on page 1 for MSN.
- Help Google out with putting a SITEMAP.XML in the page meta header. Update the meta tags with your chosen keywords.
- Web builder can give you key word suggestions. Non professionals use it though so it may not be too helpful. The only advice we can give you here is to try it and see.
- Google Adwords – more expensive, but make sure you put in your zip code. You pay for users to click.
- Have a clean url and ip address
- Use the listing sites. Many sites just list other sites – might as well get included in them
- Electronic Yellow Page ads usually are just for a map – make sure your listing includes the link to your site so they person can easily get more information. Yellow page ads in a phone book are expensive and long term – they may make sense for you, but they are expensive. We still get people calling us based on an ad in a book from 2003. We do not advertise anymore in yellow pages, but it may make sense for you, especially with a local book.
- Don’t get trapped in an expensive, long term commitment. Give yourself flexibility.
Site Flow, look and feel
- Your site has to have an overall flow that leads the user naturally from one place to another. The navigation has to be clear – We suggest using a landing page - if you have 3 target audiences, have 3 clear buttons to click (ie for Family Member, for the person, for the medical professional).
- Prominently display a FAQ page, where people can get answers easily
- Most sites advertising a service do not need a site map. Site maps are more suited to products.
- Stock photography is an inexpensive way to get good images
- Use pictures of people as much as you can
- Focus on a subliminal message such as spirituality, healing colors for a medical service
- No Flash or moving parts
- On every page, have a way for them to contact you. Email form to fill out. Call to action.
- Avoid Front Page extensions – many hackers use this as a way to penetrate your system