By Emma Hall
Search Engine Academy Northwest held a short SEO training workshop on August 18. Essentially SEO 101, the class (taught by Colleen Wright) went over quick changes anyone can make to their website to help the site rise higher in search results.
Search engines use closely-guarded formulas to determine their search results-Google claims to consider over 200 factors. However, there are a few proven tips that can help your website and eventually your business.
Wright said that SEO is important because it is measurable and provides a high return on investment. Plus, your competition is probably already doing it.
What is SEO, exactly?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, methods intended to improve the ranking of a website in search engine results. SEO factors in how search engines work and what people (potential customers or clients) are searching for. SEO consists of two parts: on-page factors and off-page factors.
- Domain name: The domain name is one of the most important factors in SEO. It should consist of keywords relevant to your website or business. (Example: www.oregonbusiness.com instead of ob.com or oregonbiz.com)
- Page name: The page name is another place to use keyword phrases to improve SEO. Wright recommended Wordtracker to find keywords to use. (Hint: use keywords that people are searching for often but without a lot of existing competition. Fill a niche to help your customers and raise your page ranking at the same time.)
- Title tag: The information within your title tag (it looks like this: <title>) is another of the most important factors in SEO, and another place to insert keywords to help your customers find what they are searching for.
- Heading tag: Similar to the title tag, the heading tag (<H1>) is another place to insert keywords. Wright gave the example of one of her clients-a physical therapist- who discovered that "constant low back pain" was a frequently searched-for term. By creating a page with a heading tag consisting of those keywords, the client was able to bring a lot of patients suffering from that ailment into her website and eventually her business.
- In-bound links: In-bound links, or other websites linking to your page, are an important off-page factor. "Inbound links are the critical piece when you have a competitive keyword phrase," Wright said.
- Online press release: Outsourcing a press release is another off-page factor that will raise the credibility of your website and raise your search ranking. Wright recommended using PRWeb.
Is SEO ethical?
Wright calls herself a "white hat optimizer." White hat SEO tactics are generally those approved by search engines. Unethical black hat tactics include keyword stuffing (adding a ton of often unrelated keywords to a page's metadata) and blog comment spamming, and often results in a website being banned or shut down. Although using white hat tactics can take anywhere from a few hours to months to improve search engine result rankings, they tend to give lasting results.
For practical tips on the similar topic of social media marketing, check out On The Scene: Social networking in the corporate world.
Emma Hall is web editor at Oregon Business.