Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide for Dallas Area Businesses - Part 2 of Local Advertising.

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Dallas Search Engine Optimization: Ranking Higher in the Search Engines

Is your website on page one of the search engines, or no where to be found? Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about optimizing / improving a website's on-page and off-page factors for specific keywords to improve the search rankings of a web page.

In Part 1 - Pay per click advertising, you saw the picture below of a Google search page. Let's revisit it below to continue our discussion on search engine optimization. A search was done for Dallas internet consulting. This page is known as a search engine ranking page, or SERP.

The Purple area (natural rankings) below shows the organic search results that come up on Google for a particular search term. Remember the yellow area is the paid advertising area. The purple area represents an area of great potential, as this area represents the natural, organic rankings, or search listings. Getting natural listings is not as easy as just doing a pay per click advertisement. Optimizing a website for natural rankings is known as search engine optimization (SEO). Let's explore SEO now!

 

search page picture

Wow, this is great! This website is ranking naturally on page one for Dallas internet consulting. But how did we get it there? We'll outline and explain some of the best practices of search engine optimization here.

Search Engine Optimization for our Dallas Based Website

The second part of online advertising is optimizing your website for keywords, or search terms. This is known as search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is the practice of helping a website's pages rank higher in the search engines for specific keywords. There are two major factors to SEO: on-page factors, and off-page factors.

On page search engine optimization factors

Important: The most important start to any search engine optimization campaign is keyword research. That means researching keywords that your customers are using. Beware of SEO companies claiming page 1 results, as they'll either optimize for keyword terms that are rarely searched on (4 or 5 word phrases), or, they get you on page one using pay per click, not optimization.

On page factors include using keywords both on the web page text (what you see) and in the HTML code (what you don't see). HTML code is what web pages and websites are built in. Want to see what HTML looks like? Right click your mouse on this page and select View Source. Voila! There's the HTML code. Common HTML code items for search engine optimization include the following that are UNIQUE to each page of a website:

  • Keywords in Title tag
  • Keywords in the Description Meta Tag
  • Keywords in header tags, like H1, H2, H3 and H4
  • Keywords in bold, italic, or both
  • Keywords in the page text
  • Keywords in the page name, like this page :)

CAUTION: This is not a complete list of on page SEO factors, just a list of basic best practices. Changing these items on an existing page that already has good rankings can have a disastrous effect to a pages' search rankings!

Note: Don't be fooled by a website design company who only does the above optimization, if at all (and charges you extra for "optimizing" your website). Optimizing META Tags is not search engine optimization!

When I'm explaining the on-page SEO factors to Dallas area businesses, I often refer to a book. A book has chapters, and chapters have paragraphs, and paragraphs have sentences. A website page's keywords and HTML code SHOULD have a similar format:

Comparison of a Book's Chapter and a Website Page
Book Contents Web page Keywords & HTML Contents
Chapter Title
Page Title
Paragraph Topic Sentence
Meta Tag Description and H1, H2 , H3 and other Heading Tags
Supporting sentences to a topic
Supporting sentences to Header tags
Call outs or emphasis
Use of bold, italic, and bold italic
Central theme of the chapter
Central theme of the keywords used on the page, used in different word order

A note about internal page linking:

Another successful on page SEO technique is to use a well-thought out internal linking structure. Internal links are what link your home page to other pages within your website. The other pages on your website have links to other pages on your site, and may not have a link from the home page.

The visible words used as links on a web page are known as "anchor text." When you use the words search engine optimization, and point that link to this page, these words are the anchor text.

What about graphics?

To make graphics readable, particularly for those that are blind, it is a good idea to use "alt text" labels in the HTML code for each graphic on the page. In the past, unethical SEO practitioners would stuff keywords multiple times into the "alt text" of graphics. All you really want to do is describe the graphic naturally. If that description of the graphic can contain keywords, great.

There are many other techniques used in search engine optimization. Let's move on to off page optimization.

Have we lost you yet? Don't worry, just a little bit more and you will have a better understanding of search engine optimization for your Dallas - Ft. Worth area business!

Off Page Search Engine Optimization - It's all about Links!

Links from other websites to your website are known as inbound links. The internet is described as "the web" due to the nature of inbound and outbound links, where one site links to another, and another site links to another, etc. Let's review some of the more important off page factors for search engine optimization.

Google's PageRank

For simplicity, a definition of Google's PageRank is appropriate. Basically, PageRank (PR) is a link, or "vote" from all the other pages on the Web, about how important a page is. A link to a page counts as a vote of support. PageRank is typically expressed from 1 to 10, as many people have the PR toolbar installed on their internet browsers. But that PR tool really only guesses at the PR, and is not completely accurate.

A Link from Ford: Now, if you are a car dealership, and sell Fords, a link from Ford Motor Company's home page that has a high PageRank would be a big, trusted vote in your favor! Getting a link from a trusted, high PageRank sites improves the PageRank and value of your website.

The difference of being on page one of search results and page three of search results can often be correlated to the number of inbound links, but wait! Not so fast! Not all links are the same, as some are more quality, or trusted, links like a link from Ford, and some are not trusted, such as link farms and "bad neighborhood" directories. There are also good web directories, like Yahoo and Best of the Web.

There are many places to get links, but most are not that easy to get. The concept of getting, or earning, more links is known as link popularity. One of the most time consuming aspect to a search engine optimization campaign can often be getting inbound links. Links from partners, from other sites within the same industry, and links from local directories mean a lot more than a link from Bob's Pizza if you're in the automotive business.

Types of links

One way links - This is a link from a website to your website.

Reciprocal links - These are links that you trade with another website. You link to them, and they link to you. They have a little value, but not as strong as one way links.

  • Authority links - Industry or educational links specific to your industry, typically recognized as a .org or .edu domain
  • Directory links - local or national or international directories. Some are free, some are cheesy, so be careful here.
  • Radio, TV, newspaper links - get quoted and get linked. Great public relations drives these links (or a friend in the business!)

Anchor Text - mix it up!

Remember our explanation of anchor text above. These are the words used in the link. While working on getting inbound links, it is a good thing to vary your inbound anchor text! There are several other types of links, but this gives you the general idea.

It is the results that matter

As you can see, search engine optimization is a lot of work! But getting organic, natural rankings is well worth the effort. When you think about your site's content, think about articles and other items you can add that make your site "link worthy."

Okay, that concludes, for now, our guide on search engine optimization for Dallas and Ft. Worth metroplex businesses! We'll be doing more updates to this article from time to time, so come back soon!

For more information, please review our other articles:
Local Online Advertising
and
Part 1: Pay per click advertising

Article by Cliff Koraska, July, 2007, © Copyright 2007

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