At the Craftcation Conference we went to in March in Ventura, CA, we attended some great workshops. One of the most comprehensive was a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Workshop led by the amazingly energetic Se Reed.
SEO Workshop Notes, for your pleasure…
Your goal in having a website is to have people find you on the internet; there are a lot of things you can do to make it more likely you’ll show up in search engine results. Search Engine Optimization pertains to making your website as easily findable as possible. When people search on the vast sea of the internet, there are thousands if not millions of websites that search engines have to wade through. If your page isn’t fully optimized, it’s highly likely that the search engines will pass it over.
- meta data/ meta content: text embedded in page source code; not visible to the user
- spiders: automated computer programs that follow links and index pages/content as they crawl
- index: when spiders sift through the data on your website, they put all of your content into a huge database; this data is used by the search engines to determine the relevancy of your website
The relevancy of a page is determined by 200+ factors! The dominant factors are Content, Keywords (search terms), and Links.
1. Content: Search engines can only index certain things: text, meta data, keywords/search terms, site indexes & site maps. They cannot index:
- plug-in content
- more than 100 links/page
2. Keywords: Keywords or “search terms” need to align with what is actually on your website. There are many factors that effect the quality and impact of your keywords.
- Word recurrence in content, tags, and meta content
- they keyword’s quality in your page content
- how targeted your keywords are; ideally you want to target one phrase or word per page on your website; too many keywords dilutes their impact in search engines
- “long tail” keywords (keywords that are 2-4 word phrases that are very specific) are best; broad search terms mean you’ll stand out less in searches (ie. “craft” versus “craft conference”; if you are a website for a craft conference, you’re more likely to come up in a search if you use both words, and not just “craft”)
- If your location is important, use it in your keywords (ie. “San Francisco Gift Shop” versus “gift shop”)
- Don’t use abbreviations or numbers- spell everything out. Spiders only read things literally, so if you say SF instead of San Francisco, they won’t index your site as having San Francisco as a keyword.
Keywords, to be fully optimized, need to go in a number of places on your website: URL, page title tags, meta data, H1 tags (headers), body content, and alt attributes of images (label your pictures as what they actually are, using your keywords!).
- URL: have your keywords present in the root URL and each page URL of your website (ie. urbanbazaarsf.com, and urbanbazaarsf.com/handmade-jewelry). Be concise and accurate. Use hyphens rather than spaces.
- Title Tags: (these appear at the top of your page when you’re on a website) They should be accurate & concise descriptions of what that page is offering (ie. Urban Bazaar: Handmade Jewelry) and less than 70 characters.
- MetaData: there will be an area within your websites back-end that allows you to enter meta data. This information won’t show up on your website, but will be indexed by the spiders. A meta description is 156 characters or less. Short, people-friendly sentence-based descriptions of the page’s content.
- Meta Tags: these are no longer relevant in google’s search engine algorithm.
- H1 tags: This is the text setting that makes a section of text show up as a header, or in bold, on your website. It used to be just a stylistic device for headings, but now google is using it to see what’s relevant on your page. Make sure that the words that are labeled as H1 are your keywords!
- Body Content: The text on your page should include your keywords for that page at least 3 times!
- Alt Image Tags: use “alternative text” on your pho’tos that you include on your website. Also, name your photos (ie.”Succulent Terrarium” instead of “photo1432968”)