As a search engine optimization consultant, I always like to re-visit a project 6-8 months after it’s been completed to see how it’s doing in the search engine rankings. Tony Rauti Luxury Homes was a web design I completed back in January. They also wanted some search engine optimization done because the old version of their website wasn’t achieving the results they desired in the search engine rankings.
Initially they wanted to go after general terms such as; “home builders” and “luxury homes”, but since they target traffic in the Windsor and Essex County area, I explained that they would be better off being a bit more specific. We eventually decided that going for keywords such as; “custom home builders Windsor”, “luxury homes Windsor” and “home builders Windsor” would be much more beneficial.
I focused most of my time doing on-site SEO, making sure my web design was optimized for the search engines. I used my META tags properly and created content that focused on the particular keywords we discussed. I then did a little off-site SEO by changing the text on any link that was pointing to Tony Rauti Luxury Homes to ensure it had our main keywords in it.
After roughly 7 months, I’m happy to report that Tony Rauti Luxury Homes is doing very well in the search engines, in particular on Google.
Even though these particular keywords don’t have that much competition, I still consider this a great SEO success! The domain/site is less than a year old and it’s already gaining a lot of Google’s respect. Most importantly, in the last 6 months Tony Rauti Luxury Homes has received 159.9% more search engine traffic than it did in the previous 6 months!
*If you test these results yourself, you may see slightly different results. I was using Google Chrome and searching Google.ca without being logged in.
The other day I had a meeting with a potential client and we got into a discussion about search engine optimization. She had done a bit of reading about it and had a couple of questions about what she should and shouldn’t do to help SEO her websites. One of the first questions she asked me is whether or not she should throw a bunch of her keywords in the footer of her page and hide them by making them the same color as the background. This is a HUGE no-no when it comes to search engine optimization. It did give me a good idea for a post though! Here are 5 SEO mistakes beginners tend to make.
1) Overusing keyword(s) in content – Even people with a minimum amount of SEO experience tend to know that you want your keyword(s) in the content of your site. This makes them think the more they use it in the content of the site, the better it is. That’s not the case. You definitely want to use your keyword in content, but you definitely don’t want to overuse it. I usually say 3 or 4 times on a page is more than enough.
2) Doing too many link trades too quickly – Google changed the search engine when they decided that the more links your website has going to it, the more your page will climb up the rankings. This started the world of link trades. No, Google doesn’t want you doing link trades – Yes you should still do them. Just don’t go crazy. Mix up the keywords you get for your trades and DON’T get too many trades all at once. If Google sees your site go from 0 links to 100 in a week, they’ll penalize you.
3) Only using keywords in meta description – The meta description tag is just that – a description. You don’t want to use a bunch of your keywords in your meta description, separated by commas, pipes or just spaces. You want to write out a full description for you meta tag in paragraph form.
4) Hiding keywords in the footer – I touched on this in the opening. You don’t want to place a bunch of your keywords in the footer of your site and hide them by making them the same color as your background. This type of thing worked for maybe a month or two back in 2004, it definitely doesn’t work anymore.
5) Only targeting one keyword – I understand that most people only want to target one keyword like “wedding shows” by why limit yourself? When acquiring links from link trades or creating content for your website, you should target 2 or 3 keywords. Why not go with “wedding shows”, “wedding dresses” and “wedding planning”?
There are probably another 10 SEO mistakes beginners make, but these are a few glaring ones. Stay away from these 5 and you’re on the right track. The last thing you want is Google to penalize your site or even worse – ban it from their search results all together!
For those of you looking to increase your knowledge on search engine optimization, I want to recommend the book titled Outsmarting Google by Evan Bailyn. I’ve read several SEO books, tutorials and blogs in the past few years, however Outsmarting Google is the one I agree with most. Evan focuses most of the novel on how to get to the top of Google’s search engine rankings organically. He also has a chapter or two about social network marketing, Yahoo, Bing and also his thoughts on where search engine optimization will go in the future.
Mr. Bailyn preaches that there are five keys to getting to the top of Google’s search rankings; keyword rankings, inbound links, TrustRank, Meta page title and URL structure. He claims that everything else you’ve heard from SEO forums and SEO “experts” is mostly hearsay. He spends a lot of his time talking about inbound links and TrustRank and says anyone who believes these two aren’t the most important factors in search engine optimization, have no idea what they’re talking about.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who is considering learning about SEO. Evan clearly has years of experience in the field and it comes across that way very clearly in his book. He even shows examples of his work and offers a view “secret tips” that are only available in his book. To give you an idea of how interested in Outsmarting Google I was… I downloaded the book to my iPod on a Monday and was finished it by Friday.
There are plenty of different ways to help the big search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to find your site, but one of the most simple ways to being your on-site search engine optimization is to add a few select meta tags between thetags on your website. Some search experts may tell you that this makes no difference whatsoever, however I think when used correctly meta tags can still be very beneficial. The key to meta tags is not to cram them with too many of the same keywords and not to use too many of them. Another key is to change certain tags (title, description) for every page on your site. Below you’ll find a list of the meta tags I always use when doing seo for my web designs.
title – Probably the most simple of all the tags. Most people get taught how to use these tags on day one of web design class. I usually choose three our four keywords, making sure not to go over a character limit of 60 (with spaces) and separate them by “-” or “|”.
meta name=”description” content=”" – Here you’ll want to describe your site and paragraph form. Usually the search engines grab this and use it as the description you see under the links in search results. Sprinkle in two or three of your keywords as best as you can, but don’t over do it. Also, don’t go over a character limit of 160 characters.
meta name=”keywords” content=”" – This is one of the tags that I don’t think matters as much as it used to, however I still add it to all my sites. Pick ten to twelve keyterms and list them separated by commas.
meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow” – Set this exactly as you see it here. This is used to tell the search engine spiders to follow and index your site.
Those are the four I make sure to use on every design I do. That’s not to say those are the only four out there. Those are just the four I make sure I use every time. Use these four meta tags on all your websites pages and you’ll be sure to see at least a slight increase in traffic from search engines.
About a week ago, I had a meeting with the people at Tony Rauti Luxury Homes to discuss search engine optimization. They had hear the term before, but weren’t to familiar with what it meant and what went into helping your website get a higher ranking in Google. After going through all the basics with them (backlinks, content, updates etc), I asked them to choose 3-5 keywords that they would like to target. Here is what they came back to me with; “custom homes”, “custom home builder” and “tony rauti homes”. I explained to them that these weren’t terrible choices however; they were a little too general.
A local company like theirs wouldn’t want to be #1 in Google or any other search engine for a term like “custom homes” because that type of term could show up in any city, province or even country. They have no interest in someone looking for a custom home in Vancouver because they are local builders. I explained to them that they should target more local keywords and gave them the following examples; “windsor custom home builder”, “windsor ontario homes” and “windsor construction”. I explained how targeting keywords for local clients wouldn’t only be easier but would also make the most of the traffic that comes to their site.
I suggest this for anyone building a website for a local business. Choose your keywords related to the location of the business, not the general keyword you’re hoping for. There will be a lot less competition and far more “bang for your traffic buck”.