The Fundamentals of SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important component in any microwave company’s marketing strategy. In this article, David Strand of Strand Marketing offers you tips on how to update your web content and HTML code to maximize your opportunities for success, and integrate SEO into your overall marketing strategy.
Where to Look
To locate what might be missing in your site to help your SEO, there are a few places to look. Start by loading your company’s website in a browser and look for the following:
1. PAGE TITLES. When you are on the home page of your website, there is a top title on the window that should not only contain the name of your company, but also a short description of what your company does. This is job one, especially on your home page. (To search engine crawlers your home page is like the opening to a funnel; if the signs point inward, they’ll drill deeper.) Take a look at the site example below for Thunderline-Z. You’ll see the title starts with their name and continues with the most important descriptive keywords of their products. These page titles should be 50-70 characters long and each page of your site should have a unique title that is relative to the page’s critical content.
2. TEXT ON THE PAGE. After crawling the title, a search engine bot will then analyze your page content for keywords. Starting with your home page, be sure there is HTML (not graphical) text that reflects key words from the title (and more) in a conversation on the page. Ideally you should strive to keep this text near the top or “above the fold” of each page. Search engines rank keywords that appear on a page relative to its location to the top of the page. The higher up the keyword appears, the more the search engine assumes it is relevant to the page content. Home pages tend to have more graphics than interior pages, so it’s important to maintain a balanced text to graphics ratio. Search engines generally deem overly graphical pages as being of lower value to someone doing a search. Maintaining critical key words on interior pages is a little easier than your home page, but you’d be surprised how often ideal words and phrases go unstated. So be sure to review each page’s content against its title.
3. URLs. After you navigate away from your home page you’ve probably noticed your interior page URLs take on a lengthy extension. Programmers can control these URLs, but controlling them specifically for SEO purposes takes extra effort. This is an example of a less than optimal URL: http://www.mycompany.com/index.html?jsessionID=1234567890. The characters after the question mark (in this example “jsessionID=1234567890”) are passing dynamic data to the page. Search engines have a habit of dinging your results if they think the content on the page is being dynamically generated. A dynamically generated page is not guaranteed to be the same on the next visit. Therefore, the information appearing on that page may have changed since cataloguing, making the search engine results less accurate. A much more search engine friendly approach is to have distinct landing pages that perform any dynamic processing without exposing the variables. For example, a landing page for “About My Company” would be better off simply as http://www.mycompany.com/about-my-company.html, without any additional variables or extravagant and obscure characters.
The next SEO fundamental is to examine elements in the programming that are not immediately visible without reviewing the source code. Perhaps have your developer join you as you review this section. (Your source code can be found by clicking View/source in your browser.)
4. META TAGS are HTML programming code designed specifically to be found on each page by search engines as they index your site. They should be deployed in the code on every page. The two most important meta tags are:
a. Keyword meta tags. The keywords meta tag is simply a list of words and phrases, separated by commas, which highlight each page’s content. There should 30-50 keywords and phrases in the meta tag for each page you wish to be indexed. They should start with the few keywords you used in your titles.
b. Description meta tags. A description meta tag is a written out dialogue of what can be found on the page. It should be relevant to the content on the page and around 255 characters long. It should not be a copy and paste of either your keyword meta tag or a paragraph from the visible HTML text on the page. While some words can and should be repeated from each, it should be more descriptive of the page. As if a tour guide was describing the page itself.
Making your site popular
Search engines push more popular sites to the tops of organic search results because it is generally believed that if your web pages are being referenced elsewhere, this represents public favorability of that page. It is therefore important to engage in activities that will increase the frequency of your links being published elsewhere. For our clients, we integrate this piece of our SEO strategies with our PR, social media and online advertising strategies. An example is found here on the Microwave Journal site: http://www.mwjournal.com/search/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_7913&SearchWord=eam.
This release for our client, Electronic Assembly Manufacturing (EAM), was sent out with a hypertext link to their home page. When published, the link is live and therefore increasing its popularity. Furthermore, we have enrolled EAM in Microwave Journal’s popular VendorView program http://www.mwjournal.com/BuyersGuide/vendordetail.asp?VendorId=1650#0. This guarantees further publication of the EAM link and also ensures ongoing release of their products in another online vehicle produced by Microwave Journal, its Microwave Advisor newsletter. By integrating these and other online advertising and social media activities, you can earn yourself a variety of popularity points. Pay-per-click programs, such as Google Adwords, will also improve your popularity and subsequent organic listings.
There is no magic bullet that will launch you to the top of search engine results. The key is to start with these fundamentals, integrate your strategies and monitor your progress. We’ve found these principles will produce results in 1-3 months.
For more information on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other marketing tips, visit our Toolbox at http://www.strandmarketing.com/toolbox.
David Strand is President of Strand Marketing, an integrated creative agency specializing in the RF/microwave industry. His advertising ideas have been a staple in nearly every Microwave Journal for the past 20 years. A portfolio of his agency’s work can be seen at www.strandmarketing.com.