Do it Yourself SEO course

Congratulations! You launched your brand new website. It looks amazing by the way. So, where is that rush of orders? Where are the hordes fighting their way to your site? Oh, you haven’t experienced that yet. Why not?  After a while you realized something wasn’t right. You heard about this mysterious thing you need called “SEO” – some kind of dark art apparently only a very few “gurus or experts” practice in secrecy.

You contact your web designer, who doesn’t really know much. They suggest a few, umm, experts and soon find you are deluged with offers to “fix” your website for you. All these offers are written in techno-speak and allude to SEO being a solution that only these companies can provide. They also start talking prices – and this is where you get shocked! $X to do this, $Y to do that and oh, monthly it’s going to cost you $$.

You’ve already blown your marketing budget for the year having your website designed – now these people are telling you that you need to sacrifice your firstborn to pay them to “fix” it… how did it come to this?

Wouldn’t an easy to follow SEO course in plain English so you can do your own SEO come in handy right about now?

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Posted in SEO

The Secret to Dominating the Search Results

What is the secret to dominating the search results? How can you dominate the search results through SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Before you can dominate the results you must first understand what SEO does.

SEO can be summed up in a simple piece of logic that goes like this:

  • The goal of SEO is to bring targeted search engine visitors to a website and ideally convert them to take some action.
  • The goal of the searcher is have their problems solved, needs filled, or questions answered.
  • The goal of the search engine is to show the best, most relevant website to their users — the searchers.

The sites that should dominate the search results are those that best solve the searcher’s problem, fill their needs or provide them with the relevant information they are seeking.

How are you going to best solve the searcher’s problem, fill their needs or provide them with the relevant information they are seeking?

With good relevant content on the page.

Not just content, but relevant content. Repeat after me – “it’s all about having relevant content on the page”.  Quite simple isn’t it? There lies the secret to dominating the search results.

Provide the searcher with relevant content to best solve the searcher’s problem, fill their needs or provide them with the relevant information they are seeking and you will dominate the search results.

Isn’t that why you choose a site when you are searching? You look at the description and if it looks like it will suit your need for you click on the title tag and go to the site.  You chose that site because the content on the site appealed to you and the site appears to solve a problem, fill a need or provide information.  You didn’t check to see if they had the right keyword tags.  As a matter of fact – forget about adding more “keyword tags” they will NOT help you dominate the search results.  Only good relevant content on the page can accomplish this.  If you don’t have good relevant content on your page, nothing is going to help you improve your ranking on the search engines.  You just can’t add keywords in the head tag and expect to rank well for them.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.

Search engines look for sufficient relevant textual content on a page in order to serve the page up for a search result.

For example let’s say you want to rank well for “dominating the search results”.

Basically how a search engine reads a page is it looks first in the title tag of the page to see if the keyword phrase dominating the search results is there. Then it looks for a description tag and looks to see if it contains the phrase – dominating the search results. The program then looks at the content of the page to see if there are any bolded instances of the phrase dominating the search results. Finally it looks for the words “dominating the search results” on the page itself in the text in at least two or three spots. A good SEO foundation is built on having the keyword phrase dominating the search results in all of these places.

If you weave your keywords into your content in a way that doesn’t come across as spammy then you will fulfill the searchers needs.  By the way, my example above is dangerously teetering on the spammy side. I would not recommend ever writing like this, I only did this as an extreme example. Give the people coming to your site good relevant content and you will fill their need for information.

Writing good relevant copy is challenging but it is what is absolutely necessary to dominate the search results.

Posted in SEO

SEO Best Practices – Meta Description Tag

Next in my series of SEO Best Practices I examine the Meta Description tag.

What Is the Meta Description Tag?

The Meta Description Tag is a snippet of HTML code which you can find inside the <Head> section of a web page. The description tag is normally placed after the Title tag and before the keywords tag. It doesn’t matter the order you place it in, order is not important and has absolutely NO effect on rankings.

The syntax I recommend for the Meta description HTML tag is:

<META NAME=”Description” CONTENT=”A description of the content of the page in a descriptive sentence or two goes here. Also try to include a call to action if applicable”>

Content management system (CMS), usually provide a field for you to complete and it is called either Meta Description or sometimes “Description”.

It was only a few short years ago that the keywords and other information in the Meta description were considered important ranking factors. Unfortunately today, neither Google nor Bing considers the description tag as a ranking signal.  This means, whether or not you use your keyword phrases in your description, the ranking of your page in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) won’t be affected.  You could even leave the description tag empty. When the description tag has been left empty Google has been known to fill it in.  Personally though, I always fill it in, preferring my version to theirs. After all who knows the content better?

Ideally, your description should be no longer than 156 characters (including spaces). However, check your description tag using the SERP snippet optimizing tool to confirm this. The recommended length is only a rule of thumb, and is no longer considered a “best practice”.  If you go over the 156 character limit, Google will truncate your description close to the 156 character mark and replace the missing text with ellipses … Going over the 156 character suggestion will NOT penalize your page/site.

With all this de-emphasis on the description tag is it really worth the effort or should you just let Google fill in the Meta Description for you?

The description Meta tag helps websites in three important ways:

  1. They can be used as either the description or part of the description of the page in the SERPs.
  2. They are often used as part of the descriptive information for your pages when Google shows “extended sitelinks” for your site.
  3. They are often used as the default description in social media marketing links such as Facebook.

Meta Descriptions in the SERPs

My recommendation is to consider whatever is in the Meta description tag will be the default description displayed in the search results; even though it’s not always the case.

Google may choose to not use text from your Meta description under some of these circumstances:

  • The information in the Meta description tag was not specific to the page it was on.
  • The search query contained phrases not in the Meta description, but Google located them in the page content. This includes words that Google considers somewhat synonymous.

Google doesn’t always use the supplied Meta description; even when the exact search phrase was contained within it. This has been observed especially if the search query is also contained within the content of the page. Unfortunately there is no way to determine whether or not Google will show the supplied Meta Description. Which is quite frustrating for an SEO!

Meta Descriptions as part of extended sitelinks

Google will sometimes pull the first few words from your Meta description tag when they create extended sitelinks for display in the SERP.  This is also dependent on the keywords in the search query. Different sitelinks and different descriptions will be displayed based on the search criteria used. As with all sitelinks, we as the webmasters do not have any control over which sitelinks (if any) Google will show or when.

Meta Descriptions and sharing on Facebook

When you share a blog post on Facebook have you ever wondered why some links have descriptions which fit the post and then there are others that don’t make any sense?  The reason behind this is some SEOs took the time to write a description of the post and populated the Meta description tag, while others have not. If a blog post has a Meta description, Facebook and Google+ will use the supplied Meta Description when you share a link on Facebook (either your profile or Page.)  If the Meta description is empty, you’ll usually see the first sentence from the page being used.

Fun Fact.  Anyone can edit the description that Facebook defaults to before you post to your Facebook page, but most people don’t. I personally will occasionally change a description I feel is either not representative or misleading before I share with my Facebook followers.

To help your content get shared, I recommend writing a compelling 1- or 2-sentence description for your content and put it into your Meta description. This will make your social media content more engaging as people will know what the post is about before they share it.

To wrap up this examination of the Meta Description tag and best practices; the Meta description tag gives you some control over what searchers potentially will view on the SERP and on Facebook before they click through to your site. The more compelling your Meta Description is the more click throughs you could potentially receive. If your Meta description tags can help with your click through rate, it is definitely worth the time it takes to craft an engaging, keyword-laden Meta description tag that nicely tells searchers what the page is about.

If you are enjoying this series of blog posts and live in the Toronto area you may be interested in the series of one day SEO training workshops we are planning for November 2013.

Next in the series is the keyword tag. Is it still valid in this day and age?

Posted in SEO, SEO Best Practice

SEO Course

The Basic SEO Course from SEO Services Toronto provides you with training and understanding of SEO and how a site is optimized using proven SEO Best Practices.

To find out more and register visit the SEO Course in Toronto page on this website.

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