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There are a lot of companies out there who do Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What they do is simple although many shroud it in mystique and overcharge for what is quite straightforward.

Process

  1. Talk to the site owner and establish what is the purpose of the site. In particular, what words would prospective clients likely enter into Google (or Bing or Yahoo etc) to find the site. Typically these will be key words related to the business. Words like the business name, the key products or services provided, the locations served. These words should be then prioritized.
  2. Look at the site – particularly the home page – and determine if these key words would be found by Google. The key words have to be on the page(s) to be found – more below,
  3. Recommend modifications to the site that would remedy any deficiencies.

Optimizing

So how do we know what Google will find? First, they have told us (the web design community) and then experience tells us what works and what does not. Here are some things to know about getting the words onto your web page.

  1. The most important location by far is the “title” – that’s the words that show up at the very top left of your web browser. You may not take much notice of them but Google does. The title should include the most important words but should not be too long. Ideal is about 3 to 6 words. When you search, the title also appears as the title of the search results.
  2. The second preferred place for key words is on the page you want found (usually the home page) and near the top left – note that all images are ignored by Google. Search engines cannot read images. Since this is visible to the world, the words need to be in sensible sentences.
  3. When Google displays a result, immediately under the title there is a description of the site. You can control those words by adding a hidden meta description to the page. If this is not added, Google will find some words on the page that seem to fit.
  4. Adding Meta key words (hidden) as often recommended by SEO companies has no value for Google, Bing or Yahoo but may be used by the remaining search engines who have less than 5% of the market. You can add as many words as you like and they won’t be seen by anyone except developers and (some) search engines.

When I design web sites, I take all these things into account – but if your business changes or you feel some key words are not being recognized, then maybe you need to revisit this subject.

Addendum

Here is another article on this subject.  It includes a video by a Google Engineer explaining what you should do to get best search results. Making your site easy for Google to find.

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