Ian Lurie // Jul 25 2007
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, remains critical to any internet marketing campaign. Search engines are the way folks find stuff they want. Here are 3 easy things you can do for fairly quick results:
1: Write useful title tags.
The title tag is hidden in the source code of each web page. You can see it, though, at the top of your browser window. Here, my title tag is ‘Internet Marketing Strategies : Conversation Marketing’:
Search engines give a lot of weight to the title tag. I’ve done no other optimization on my blog, yet I’m #14 out of over 85 million web pages on Google for the phrase ‘internet marketing strategies’. That’s because of the title tag.
Editing your title tag is easy. If you are using a content management system, chances are you can simply edit the ‘title’ field for that page, or edit the page or article name. If you aren’t using a content management system, but you have access to your web site’s files:
Do this for every page on your site. It can have a tremendous effect. One of our clients went from unranked to top 10 for ‘cubicle systems’ in less than 4 weeks. All because we edited their title tags.
Note: I’m assuming you already know how to transfer files to and from your server. If you don’t, it’s probably best that you not do any of this, and ask your web geek to do it instead.
2: Check Your Headings
Make sure you’re using proper heading tags for the actual headings on your site. On my blog, for example, the heading is the article title:
Ideally, the heading in this image should be in an H1 element, like this: <h1>Why Social Networks Won’t Kill E-Mail (Or Search)</h1>. If it is, then a search engine knows that this line of copy identifies the page topic. You can make the heading look however you want by using stylesheets. Just make sure that the top level heading is in an H1 element, the second level headings are in H2, and so on.
Also, make sure the first heading on the page includes your target keyphrase if it reads well.
This won’t have as big an effect as the title tag, but it’s important. Once a search engine categorizes a page within your site using stuff like the title tag, it will categorize the copy on that page using things like the heading tags. No heading tags means a less accurate categorization.
This is very similar to Microsoft Word: In Word, you can create a heading by picking ‘Heading1′ from the styles menu, or you can create what looks like a heading by applying bold, changing the font and making the type larger. In the first case, Word will know that the text is a heading – if you then convert the document to an outline or another format, the heading will automatically be reclassified. In the second case, the ‘heading’ you created will be mashed in with the rest of the text.
3. Check Your CopyWhere possible, make sure that the first paragraph on the page includes your keyphrase. Don’t write lousy copy just to force in the keyphrase. But any time you can sensibly work the keyphrase into the first paragraph, you’ll see a benefit.
Let’s say you want a top ranking for ‘Ford cars and trucks’. You review your site, and you see that the first paragraph on your home page starts with ‘Ford makes great cars, and the best trucks around’. You can easily change that to ‘Ford cars and trucks are the best around’. Same message, better optimization for your target phrase.
It all Adds Up
There are, of course, endless ways to tweak your site for better search rankings. Some are legitimate – some are cheating. But the title tag, heading tag and first paragraph of copy are easy to adjust and should get you pretty quick results. Optimize those, first.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More