Search engine optimization. We talk about it a lot here, as most hosting companies do, because it is daunting and shrouded in mystery. Literally, that’s not one of my usual exaggerations for comedic effect. Google, as an example due to its popularity and nearness to taking over the world, keeps its algorithm a secret. Like government agency secret; probably not “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you” secret, but pretty close.
Why all the secrecy? Well, several reasons. It is difficult to have valid results for the searcher if websites know exactly what to do to get their website at the top of whatever list they want. Further, you as a website or small business owner understand the importance of having a good ranking in relative terms, so if Google were to release their secrets to the masses, it would be even more difficult for small businesses to compete with larger companies.
This mystery adds a lot to the importance of your website’s content. One thing has always remained true throughout the course of website searches – content is king. If your content is specific and relative to your business, you will find that your ranking will naturally be high in the keywords most relative to your search. The mystery also creates bad practices due to rumors, or outdated and incorrect information. Or, even worse, someone finds a way to cheat the system, and that method spreads across the internet. Suddenly, rankings go haywire, and when Google updates its ranking methods again (usually once or twice a year) all those websites tank in rankings. Search engines keep track of those instances and it becomes very difficult for those sites to recover in ranking.
So, how do you know what’s a valid tip and what isn’t? That’s what I’m here for. I’m going to help ease some of the rumors or old information that is still floating around and tell you what’s true and what isn’t. It’s my own little digital myth busting, but with less explosions, and no moustaches.
Adding a location to your website increases your presence in local searches.
A lot of people don’t want to put their location anywhere on their website, especially if they don’t own a storefront. But, don’t do that. I’m not suggesting you put your address, phone number, birth date, and social security number on your site, just your city and state. After all, if you didn’t pay for domain privacy, your information is publicly available on the internet anyhow.
Google now customizes searches to such a high degree, that a search for the exact same keyword with the exact same search history will result in different results if the searches are performed in different locations. If I am looking for a plumber, I don’t care who the best plumber in New York is. I want someone in Virginia Beach, Virginia because that’s where I’m located.
You can use this to your advantage by putting an area map on your site. Also, if you are a business and list your service areas, you will have a broader search radius. If you are not a business, try to focus some of your content on local items. If you have a food blog (like me) post some recipes using local foods, or talk about some local events you attended.
Higher rankings locally will drive traffic to your site. And traffic increases your overall ranking, so getting local traffic will help your site grow in popularity worldwide.
Lists show importance, so I should list a bunch of keywords on my home page.
Yes and no, but mostly no.
Yes, lists show the scanning bots that the information included in those lists is important. So, if you have a set of skills, certifications, or services to offer, put them in a list on your home page. But, don’t flood every page with lists of random keywords.
Relevance and readability are still factors, even to search engine bots. So, make sure your lists make sense or use complete sentences if possible. Also, as with everything, make sure your keywords are relevant to your website. Search engine bots are so advanced now, they can determine if something will make sense to someone reading it. If too many flags come up (like say, a smattering of random words) it will hurt your rankings more than help them.
Don’t ignore this just because it’s not your chosen keyword that needs to be on the list on your page. Drawing attention to important words on your website is always a good thing. Plus, you never know what someone is searching for, so you don’t want to give up on something just because you don’t think it’s important.
Take advantage of this when developing your content. Don’t stop at lists, and use italics, bold, and underline. Anything designed to draw attention to certain aspects of your site will be a way of adding a private note to the bots that this information is most relevant to your website.
Keywords are the most important factor in SEO, so it is best to flood your website, HTML tags, and code with hundreds of keywords.
Please don’t do this. It’s not helpful, and even if it were, your ranking would be all wonky and your site would show up places it doesn’t belong and that wouldn’t help you or your customers at all. And, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times when discussing SEO, relevant keywords are what really matter.
Also, like I mentioned before, bots can tell when a keyword is just inserted on a page. So, make sure that what you use matters, makes sense, and is relevant to the other information around it.
So, how do you get more keywords into your site? Well, first do your research and select the most relevant keywords to the information you are providing. Then, only use 3-5 for each page of your website. This will give your pages focus and will reduce the stress of fitting 30 keywords onto one page.
When you are writing for your HTML tags, remember that they don’t matter as much as they used to. Title tags are the most important, and after that, photo descriptions, everything else is just a possible bonus. Bots don’t crawl tags as much as they used to because the information on your site and the information others say about your site is much more important.
Bots don’t read punctuation.
This is actually true. Bots don’t care about punctuation as much as the words on the screen, so you can increase the number of relevant keywords in an HTML tag or page by creatively using punctuation to your advantage.
For example, if your key word phrases are:
InMotion Hosting is awesome
You can put all of these together in one short sentence.
“Dedicated to the customer is what InMotion Hosting is. Awesome hosting is hard to come by.”
Notice that we have hosting in there twice, InMotion Hosting is in there, and paired with awesome hosting, and it all combines to make the phrase InMotion Hosting is awesome. That is also the perfect length for a HTML Tag, full of keywords and not too long.
Did you catch the bonus keyword? “Dedicated” is the start of the sentence. Paired with the repetition of the word hosting, we are in a good place to be found when someone searches “Dedicated hosting” or dare I say, “Awesome dedicated hosting”.
Long story short, if you have questions about improving your search engine rankings, you should remember what I said at the start of this post: “Content is King”. When in doubt, ensure that your content is well written, informative, and full of diverse media.
There are so many myths about SEO, and the internet is flooded with bad information, and this short post only scratched the surface.
So, stay tuned to this bat channel for more helpful tips and busting of SEO myths.