Website Design – Keywords

Step 1 – Identify Your Search Keywords

A common misconception with new web site owners is to try and improve their search engine ranking based on their company name or domain name.  This is not a good strategy, since a customer who already knows about you probably does not need help finding your web site.  Instead, your goal should be to try and attract new customers to your web site using Keywords.

Keywords are the terms potential customers enter in a search engine to find a web site that meets their needs.  Essentially any word can be a keyword, though obviously more specific terms yield more accurate results.  Finding the correct keywords to use for your web site is the most important early step for getting your site optimized for search engines.  Ideally, you will know your keywords even before you start creating content for your web site.

A good way to identify your best keywords is to think about the core of your business.  Do you offer a specific type of product?  The name of the product would make a good keyword.  Do you only service a specific region? The specific city/state/etc would be a good keyword.  You do want to be as specific as possible.  If you are selling golf equipment, “golf” on its own is not a good keyword, but “golf bags” is better and a specific brand is even better.  Keep in mind that if you are in a competitive business sector (such as electronics), that you will find it more difficult to stand out in search engines.  Be sure to look for anything that marks your business as unique, and put that in your keywords.

Once you’ve identified a few keywords, you should enter them into Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.  This will give you alternatives to use so that you are not just repeating the same words over and over.  For example, if I enter “blu ray player” into the tool, I get hundreds of other ideas, including how many times each phrase has been searched for.

Step 2 – Title and Name Your Pages Using Keywords

The titles and filenames of your pages are very important for search engine results.  Whenever you create a page, make sure you use keywords in the Page Title and Page File Name fields.  For example, if you are describing a specific product on the new page, you should include the product’s name in the title and filename.  Since you cannot have spaces in the file name, you can use hyphens (-) instead.

Some companies will encourage you to put a very large amount of keywords in your page titles.  This will not actually help your search engine ranking, as most search engines look at this as trying to spam them.  If you do a Google search for a popular product, you will generally find that the top ranking sites tend have no more than ten words in the title and will generally have closer to five or six.


Step 3 – Create Your Page Content, Including Keywords

Your page content is very important for search engine results.  Each of your pages should have content featuring the keywords you have decided upon.  A good rule-of-thumb is that about 5% of each page’s word count should be keyword content.  Any more than that and the search engines may think you are trying to flood them with keyword content.  Search engines like pages with about 300-400 words, so you should be looking to have about 15 to 30 keywords for pages of that size.

Search engines look at the context of your keyword content, so you should make sure to place your keywords in headings.  To mark text as a heading, edit the Rich Text Editor it is in, highlight the text, and choose one of the six Heading options from the Format box.  You should have no more than one Heading 1 and 2-3 Heading 2 per page.

If your content includes links to other pages on your site, make sure that the linked text uses keywords for that destination page.  This helps search engines place more importance on that page.

Step 4 – Add a Page Description for Each Page

Search engines will often use a page’s Page Description for the text that appears with your search result.  This makes the text you use very important for drawing users to your site, despite it not having an effect on your actual ranking.  If you have an engaging description, you might get the visitor to choose your site over a higher ranked competitor.

Step 5 – Get Other Sites to Link to You

Arguably the most important step you can take to improve your search engine ranking is to have other sites provide keyworded links to your site.  Search engines look at the content of other sites, and if they see several sites linking to yours they will increase your ranking.  This is why you will often see sites like Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database as the first result in several searches: they are linked to by an incredible number of web sites.

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DIY Website Design – 5 Little Tips Before You Begin

Just a few tips for the Do It Yourself business owner.

1) Plan your website carefully:  Too often I see homemade websites that look, well, dare I say, yup, crappy! You must have a clear plan and because you are probably a novice at designing a website, you will need to map it out on paper first.

When I’m designing a site for someone, I have a slew of questions that I need answered before I can create an action plan together with my client. Once I have this basic information,  I design a flowchart indicating which pages are linking to other pages.

What is the website about?  Are you selling products via e-commerce or offering services or both? This helps determine which pages will be created. I often come across websites that don’t clearly show me what the site is about. This should be crystal clear to someone landing on your site for the first time.

At a minimum your site pages will include Home, About the Company, Contact Us, Services or Product Catalog. But what about FAQ’s, Shipping Terms, Privacy Policy, etc. How many services do you offer and can each service be detailed on its own page? For example let’s consider an Organizing Services  website:

The Services Page could list all types of organizing services offered (Residential, Moving, Estates, Business/Office, Downsizing, Transitioning to Assisted Living Facilities…) Each of these items can link to its own page of content (description and detail of the service, your experience in that arena, blah blah blah.) Depending upon the website, these pages may link to more in-depth pages.

Below is an example of my website – this is only part of the services page. Because I offer multiple services, I’m only including a snapshot of one category on the service page. I have multiple categories on the page, each with its own list of services, but this will give you the general idea.

2) Keyword Research:  Perform keyword research in advance of writing the content. Once you know what keywords to use, write your content based on that list. You want 3-5% keyword density on each page at most. This is an important step in website design. Keyword Research is an entirely different topic so I won’t go into depth on this post. Suffice to say, you should conduct or hire someone to conduct your keyword research. (Google has a free keyword tool which is better than using nothing at all)

3) Design of Your Website Comes First:  Before adding any site content, I create the design and layout of the website. There’s much to consider here, such as am I using an existing logo or designing one? What are the colors of the logo? The logo must be done first. (If you just cannot swing a logo right away, at least settle on the colors you’ll want later for your logo so you can incorporate those in the site or ensure they will complement each other.)  Then design the custom header, incorporating the logo (or the feel of what it will be) into the header design.

From there, design the navigation and then the balance of the page, incorporating the look and feel of the logo and header. You want your text and browser background all to pull together nicely with the overall page. And please, determine the size of the web page and plan accordingly. If it’s 850px wide, your header should be 850px wide. If you’re going to have text to the left of the page plan the text area size and the amount of room to the right for a graphic design or photo. Allow for ‘white space’. You don’t want everything pushed together or random, have a plan. Randomly throwing things on a web page will look unprofessional, it takes some forethought. Remember, this is your potential customer’s first impression of your company. Your website should reflect quality products, quality service, quality company…

One common mistake I see a lot is people designing a site for their taste and not the vast majority of the public. Who is your target market? Do you need  corporate feel? A feminine look? Stick with neutral colors, avoid hot pinks, neon yellows, etc., unless your target market would expect to see those colors. Your website design should be pleasing to look at by most people. While you may love hot pink, it is not necessarily a good idea to have it be the only thing people notice when landing on your website.

4) Content:  Now that you have a logo, a designed website and keywords, you can begin plugging in content, using the keyword research. Because Content is King, I like to throw in some useful Resources information. I think you can come up with some valuable resources (free tips, info…) for just about any business website if you try. Text Content should not be overlooked or replaced with flash and pretty pictures. Ask friends and acquaintances to review your content and critique it for you. (Just don’t get upset with their constructive advice – LOL)  If you cannot write, consider outsourcing this task to a seasoned writer. Your content should be written to that the site visitor understands exactly what you’re trying to say. Remember, while you may know everything about your business, they may not.

5) Meta Data:  Every page should have its own unique meta data. This is the Page Title, Page Description and Keywords. The most important aspects of your website is the Page Title and Description. Too often these are overlooked, even by some website design companies that are just out to make a quick buck off you and don’t really care if your site is optimized correctly. Make sure that the Page Title and Description reflect the content that is actually on the page and that each page has unique meta data.

Well, there is still a lot more to say about developing a quality website, which will have to come at a later date.  We obviously recommend you hire a professional, heck, we’d love for you to hire us, but we understand you want to tackle this on your own right now. So we wish you good luck and hope you found at least a little bit of helpful information here to get you started.

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