10/14 update: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) calls for more scrutiny of stretches nationwide.
SEOs, metatags, metacrawlers, spider bots, organic searches, keywords — These are just a few words in web speak. Learn what they mean and how they can help your website gain attention on the Internet.
Getting Noticed On the Web
So you've paid $2,500 and built your website. Unless people find and visit your website, it is nothing more than a $2,500 investment with no return. No doubt you have received a phone call from someone offering to place your site at the top of all the search engines — for a fee.
So do you really need to pay someone? Should you really concern yourself with rankings, title pages, and metatags? It depends on your knowledge of how search engines work, what search engines are, and your ability to get noticed on your own. You definitely need to get your website to display in the top five listings or results of a search inquiry for the services you offer in your area. Studies have shown that people read a search results page from top to bottom and left to right.
Placement at or near the top of the rankings increases the likelihood of the viewer "clicking thru" to your site. A successful campaign may drive organic traffi c to web pages, but may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines where each time someone clicks the link to your site, you pay a fee for the click called a "pay-per-click."
In the beginning of the World Wide Web, Yahoo was the primary "search engine." Think of a search engine as a card catalog file in a library. You search the cards looking for a particular book or subject matter and the card tells you where in the library to find this subject. Except in the case of the Internet, each search engine such as Yahoo, Google, Ask or Dog Pile represent one drawer of card files and the entire Internet is your library. Some search engines such as Yahoo operate a paid submission service that guarantees to check your website for additions, changes or deletions for either a set fee or cost per click. This guarantees inclusion in the database, but does not guarantee a specific ranking.
What Is An SEO?
SEO is an acronym for "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimizer." Deciding to hire an SEO is a decision that can improve your site and save you time. An SEO will review your site, develop content, manage campaigns, and provide advice on keywords you should use. A campaign is a specific appearance in a specific place that is paid for. For instance, by using Google Adwords, you can buy a spot at the top of the results page so that your company name and website appear in a shaded box above the "organic" search results. This is called a "sponsored listing" or one that is paid for. However, this sponsored listing does not help you on any other search engine since you are paying Google to post only on the Google site.
All SEOs are not created equal and not all are ethical either. It is important, when you get an e-mail or call saying that a search of your website reveals you are not on the first page of results, to take this information with a grain of salt. Check yourself by going to a major search engine and typing in the same words a consumer might if looking for service in your area, such as "Limousines in Bakersfield." No matter what claim an SEO might make about getting you to the top, there is no way to guarantee a No. 1 ranking simply because rankings are based on hundreds of thousands of parameters based on the initial search request. An example would be offering a package that includes Dutch food with a limo transfer. A search for Dutch food could place your site in the No. 2 position based on content in your website that matches the search query. A dishonest SEO can attempt to place you in the No. 1 rank by adding title pages or content that is not relevant to what you do or sell just to try and match various search requests, so make sure you know who you are hiring. SEOs that offer to submit your site to thousands of search engines are not really doing you a favor since that only places you on the search engine's index but not necessarily at the top of the results.
How Optimization Works
Optimization is the process of improving the volume of traffic to your website from search engines. In the simplest form, you enter the search engine much as you would a line at an amusement park. The first guy in line is going to get on the ride first. Using keywords such as your hometown and local airport code or name can make your page more relevant to people searching for a ride to or from your local airport. By having page titles or content on a page referencing this information, your site becomes more relevant than another site offering limousines but not mentioning the airport.
Once a search engine such as Yahoo has your website name, it sends "spiders" or "crawlers" to search the content of your pages and create indexes for the content. When someone performs a search for something specific, the search engine goes through all of the indexes and finds the closest match to the inquiry.
For instance, a search for "pink limousines in Cleveland" may show as many as 20 limousine services, but the company that offers pink limousines will show up in the number one spot simply because of the words "pink" and "limousine" contained in the query. The spiders will return to your site automatically at predetermined intervals to check for any changes, additions, or deletions to keep the index current.
Titles And Tags
Each page on your site should have a title at the top of the page. It's not enough to just have ABC Limo Service as a title for your website, says Jim Leehan of Magic Mist Limousine. Let's say your service is based in Omaha, Nebraska. A sample title tag for this website would be Omaha limo service, Omaha limousine, Omaha weddings. You can tweak around your title tag to any keyword you would like. The important thing to remember is it needs to be focused on your target market.
A meta tag is a line of coding containing data about a webpage. The website viewer does not see it. There are two common types of meta tags. They are description tags and keywords tags such as, for example, "Omaha Limousine Service providing limos, cars and sedans to Omaha Nebraska." Meta description tags describe the webpage. For instance, if this article was a webpage, we would call it "Learning about website terms." The meta keywords tag lists other words that a visitor might be searching for, such as SEO, optimization, and keywords. The purpose of meta tags is to inform web crawlers about your page. Using them may help web crawlers to index your pages in search engines. Using meta tags on each page will promote greater visibility on most search engines and may increase the likelihood of your page coming up as a choice when people search under alternate but related names to your content.
If you plan to optimize your search results, use any and all content meta tag words at least once on your page.
These tags aren't the only way to achieve a greater web presence. Using your main keyword several times is important.
Keywords are used to describe what your site is about on search engines. In addition to using phrases such as
"limousine," you also should include common misspellings such as, "Limozine, limosine, lemo, lemosine" to drive more traffic to your site when such spellings are searched.
Choosing an SEO
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