A ‘diamond in the rough’ is not – for a Web site – a good thing

It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of a good online marketing presence. A successful Web site is so much more than just a brochure site for your business, or a way to show off bells and whistles. To be found by those who seek your products or services, a Web site needs to be designed with SEO – search engine optimization- in mind.

Suppose your company builds widgets and you design the snazziest widget Web site ever to hit the information superhighway. There’s Flash video of dancing widgets on the home page. The resources page is stocked with dozens of white papers informing visitors of all the different types of widgets available. There’s even a message board where widget lovers from around the world discuss how the invention of the widget has changed the course of manufacturing forever. This site should, without a doubt, establish your company as the world’s foremost authority on widgets.

Unfortunately, when you run a Google search on the word “widget,” your site is ranked as the 187th search result. The user has to read through 19 pages of results just to find you. Don’t count on them to be so patient. According to this article by InformIT, many users don’t bother to look past the first couple of pages of search results.

Your site is, if not optimized for SEO, in essence, a “diamond in the rough.” Though this phrase may have positive connotations, it’s not a description you want for this application. Today’s impatient user doesn’t have time to search through all the “rough.” You need to be as close to the top as possible when someone searches for your site on the Web.

Search Engine Optimization -SEO- is the technique of designing your Web site so as to better ensure top ranking in traditional search engines. There are many tricks and stratagems involved in SEO, but here are some tips to making your site more SEO-friendly:

  • Fill your site text with key words and phrases someone might use as search terms. A coffee site should make frequent use of the words “coffee,” “grounds,” “filters,” “caffeine,” “coffee beans,” etc. A home care site should use home care, homecare, nursing, caregiving, elder care and senior care.
  • Bold letters often get the attention of search engines. Don’t overuse, but make sure that some keywords are in boldface. Also put some key words in larger font closer to the top of the page.
  • Include several links to related pages that rank high in their fields. For example, a news site on coffee should probably link to the Starbucks and Sanka Web sites.  A home care site should link to industry organizations like NAHC and PDHCA. And use keywords in your links, so, instead of “click here” write “Find out more about home care here”.
  • Make sure other sites link to you. Search engines like Google keep track of links coming in and going out of a site. Sites that get both (particularly to and from other high ranking sites) get placed closer to the top of a Web search. Make certain your site is listed in as many online directories as possible, and definitely in your trade association sites, local resource directories or product sites listing distributors.
  • Make sure all pages include keywords in the page titles.

An entire industry has grown up around SEO technique. For more tips on how to improve SEO, click here.