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Getting Started With SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

by Bob Main - Web Presence Coach/Consultant

You know the old saying, “There’s no free lunch”? Well, that isn’t necessarily always the case. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, in theory, is free traffic to your website, Facebook Page or Blog.

Wikipedia defines SEO as the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid (also referred to a organic) search results. You could also pay to show up in search results, called PPC – Pay Per Click, but what fun is that if you can get it for free.

So how does a website (or other web content) show up on search engine results pages without paying for it? Basically, Google and all other search engines routinely send out a program called a "spider" to "crawl" all websites (or other web content), to look for specific content (keywords). All of that information about the website content is returned to the search engine server so it can be “indexed” or categorized. The search engines use sophisticated algorithms (and often secret classification rules) to prioritize each site for specific content. The purpose is to make sure that when the search results are presented to the user, the links are the most relevant to the word/phrase that was searched on.

So what can a person do to make sure the search engines find (and crawl/index) their site and rank them high for specific keywords?

1) Determine what keywords you believe your patients will search on to find you or your website content. Select about 25 keywords and make sure the content on your website, blog or social media page contains these words. Go to www.keyworddiscovery.com to get information and help picking your top 25 keywords.

Note – The temptation is to write website content or social media posts to be “keyword rich” so search engines will rank your website/web content higher to show up on the first page of search results. Don’t overdo it. Content needs to be easy to read and make sense to the reader. Using keywords too many times on the same webpage will be viewed as “keyword stuffing” by search engines and your site will be ranked lower.

2) Check your website’s SEO by running a free program called www.websitegrader.com to see how you score. The program will even make suggestions on how to improve your site.

3) Get links to your site. One thing the search engines will look for (when determining priority of how search results are presented) is how many other credible websites have links to yours. One way to get links is to write articles that get published (in blogs or even Facebook) and have a link back to your website. There are companies that sell their service of getting links to your site. I would stay away from them as the search engines have a way of penalizing your raking if you use these services.

4) Submit your website’s “sitemap” to the search engines. You probably want to get your web company or webmaster to do this for you. It helps the search engines in the process of crawling your site and insures they find your content. Each time you make significant changes to your website or add a lot of new content, be sure to re-submit the revised sitemap. Eventually, the search engines will crawl your site, but submitting a site map can speed things up.

5) Make sure your webmaster has included relevant keywords in the meta tags for each webpage. Each webpage’s meta tags need to be relevant to each pages content. Also make sure they are adding “alt tag” keywords to photos/graphics and any videos you might have on the site. Since search engines can’t “see” what is on photos or videos when they crawl your site, these descriptions help insure you get keyword credit.

So if your motto is “free is me”, then use the above suggestions to optimize your website content to show up for free in search engine results. These are not the only things you can do to rank higher in search results, but they are a good start.

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