What is SEO and Why it Matters

Custom User Experiences



Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You created the ultimate website design. You have a pretty website that intuitively shows off your product and service offerings. You considered everything from navigation to accessibility, but your beautiful website isn't getting any traffic, let alone conversions, what gives?

You now face a new problem, users and potential customers need to be able to find your new website and know that it exists. This is where search engine optimization(SEO) comes into play. While there are a wide multitude of ways to get your web page in front of potential customers, from advertisements to social media. While these are great ways to build brand awareness, nothing beats the organic and natural traffic from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

SEO Techniques

SEO Techniques

Although there exists many well known working SEO techniques, the algorithms that search engines, such as Google or Bing, use to determine keyword search ranks are largely kept secret and often change. One thing that is certain, search engine optimization(SEO) is essential to get your website or web page in front of potential customers and building brand awareness.

All About that Markup

One thing I learned early on in my software engineering career is that when it comes to website and web design in general, it is all about that markup. Markup is the first hint the search engine crawler has about the content on the page, including how important some content on the page is compared to the rest of the content on the page.

Not only does the markup provide hints to the search engine crawler bots about the content on the website page, but it also affects the way that the web page renders in a client web browser. It may seem tempting, especially early on, to use the wrong markup in order to create the UI(User Interface) effect that you like. It is important that use the appropriate markup for on the content contained in your web page, and depend on CSS stylesheets to achieve the desired user experience.

Metadata and Microdata

Microdata

Among the many SEO techniques that exist, few are more important than Metadata and Microdata. Microdata and Metadata provide hints about the content on your website page to search engine crawler bots as well as other clients, in a format specifically for them to digest.

Using tools like Microdata and the Open Graph Protocol, we can provide enhanced hints about the content on our website or web page to search engine crawler bots, and change the way Google, Bing and other search engines recommend our website pages to prospective searchers, and makesure our web pages are ranked high in the results of relevant searches.

Heading Structures

Website heading structures

The most common SEO culprit, as well as the easiest problem to rectify, is the heading structure of your website design or web pages. We often see website designers abusing a pages heading structure in order to create their desired UI effect.

This is the first thing you should look at when deciding to do a round of search engine optimization. There should only exist one h1 on each page, and it should be near the top of the page. An h4 should only exist under an h3, an h5 should only exist under an h3, etc. Each heading should lend to the content described buy it's parent heading. The words in headings should be used in the content they label, these heading words should be carefully crafted from the keywords you want your page to rank high in the search engines results list.

Not only does good heading structure create web pages and websites that search engines such as Google and Bing will like to show to prospective searchers, but it lends to quality content that users will enjoy reading and be more likely to engage with.

Website Structure and Navigation

Website structure

Website structure and navigation play a big part in search engine optimization(seo), usability and ultimately user experience. Not only does having good website structure and navigation ensures that the search engines can more exactly match the proper web page or product to a specific search query, but it also allows users and potential customers to zero in on the exact web page or product that they need, even if the search engine does not provide the exact page they are looking for.

Responsive Website Design

Responsive website design

In an ever increasingly mobile world, you never know what kind of device a potential user will be using. A responsive website design ensure that your web page and it's content will all be visible and looking good.

A good website design totally segregates the responsibilities of the styling and markup. It is the markup's sole job to give context and structure to the content on the web page. As for the style-sheets, it is their job to determine how the content is laid out and presented on the screen. Google, Bing, Yahoo and almost all of the other popular search engines give each of your web pages a mobile friendliness score, and use that to determine whether to show your page in relevant search results on mobile device screens.

Cascading Style-Sheets (CSS)

HTML's actually purpose is just a means to serialize data. Have you ever loaded a very slow or old mobile web page that was totally vertical and black and white? That is what rendered HTML looks like without style-sheets.

It is solely CSS styles that give web pages their distinct unique looks. Using CSS techniques like media queries and flex-box, we can create page layouts that adjust to each individual client devices view and size.

Mobile Friendliness

If you have ever dug down on the webmaster toolbox of one of the big search engines, you'll find a console dedicated to rating your websites individual web pages as mobile-friendly or not. This certainly effects how your web pages will rank in target search results on mobile devices. In today's digital economy, mobile-friendliness has never been more important.

Backlinks and Anchor Tags

Backlinks

In the modern technological world, we use the world link(Hyper Link) typically several times a day through ordinary conversation. Links(and anchor-text) our like doorways into your digital web space. Backlinks are part of the backbone of a good SEO strategy.

The more links(or hyper links) that exist for your website that are scattered about the wild world wide web, the more ways people can and will find your web pages and product offerings. Google, Bing and most other search engines scan the world wide web for links and anchor text leading to your web pages, and use this as a factor when deciding to rank your page in a targeted keyword search query.

Quality Backlinks

Wait a minute, it isn't quite that simple, Google, Bing and other search engines expect your website links and anchor tags to be properly marked up in quality content. Posts in reputable blogs and business directories are good quality backlinks that Google, Bing and other search engines will consider favorably when ranking your page in a keyword search query result.

The search engine crawler bots can easily sniff out blackhat backlinks techniques, that usually consist of hiding anchor-text on wide variety of vulnerable or questionable websites. When search engines such as Google and Bing detect backlinks of a similar blackhat nature, they penalize your web pages and rank them lower in relevant keyword search queries.

Paid Backlinks

While it certainly is a common and acceptable search engine optimization technique, you must be very careful when paying an entity to generate backlinks for your website or product pages. Shady backlink vendors will use blackhat SEO tenchniques that will cause Google, Bing and other search engines to rank your web and product pages lower in targeted keyword search engine queries.

Expect to pay at least $50(USD) for one single high quality backlink. While it may seem like quite a bit for one backlink, seeing as you will need many of them, but if you pay an entity $20(USD) for 500 backlinks, you can expect your targeted website and product pages to slide downwards in the keyword search engine query result ranks.

Negative SEO

Some competitors might run negative SEO campaigns against your website by buying blackhat backlinks to your web pages. Most search engine webmaster consoles have a tool that allows you to disavow malicious or otherwise unsavory links to your domain. You must always do everything in your power to get a bad backlink taken down. Even if Google, Bing or all the other search engines allow you to disavow a bad link, the issue will reoccur every so often if you don't get think taken down.

If you think your domain or website might be the victim of a negative SEO campaign, please reach out and we would be glad to help get your SEO straightened out and your web pages performing and ranking well on targeted keyword search engine query results.

Accessibility

modern website accessibility

A good and modern website design has to be accessible to everyone, even those that might suffer from impairment. An ADA compliant website design implements accessibility tags and attributes that hint to tools like screen readings, braille screens, etc. of what the user should know and do next.

Not only will ADA complaint and accessible websites be considered in a more favorable light when being ranked by Google, Bing and search engines, they lend themselves to very refined and high quality user experience for everyone.

Why it Matters

Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential for any organization to have a good website design and get their website or web pages in front of the right users and potential customers. Even if your website has a carefully crafted intuitive user experience, it won't do your organization any good if no one is aware of or can find your web and product pages.

While there are many ways to optimize the way your website or web pages perform and rank in search results, the search engines keep their search result ranking algorithms under lock and key. Not only are the search engine ranking algorithms secret, they are constantly changing.

There exist some tried and true search engine optimization(SEO) techniques that are guaranteed to help the search engine connect your web pages and products with the right people. These methods, such as Micro and Meta data, website structure and navigation, backlinks and using proper heading structures and markup, are often low hanging fruit that will give the search engine crawler bots relevant information about the content of each and every page on your website.

If you are interested in the possibility of optimizing your search engine appearance and brand awareness, and don't know where to start, or if you would like to ask any questions or provide us with much appreciated feedback and/or suggestions, please reach out, and we will look forward to hearing from you.

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