Website optimization is usually considered to be the process of improving how well the site or a page within the site ranks on the search engines for a specific keyword (or search phrase). 15 years ago (circa' 2005), you could type the keyword for which you wanted to rank a hundred times at the bottom of the page and voila', that web page ranked for that keyword. If you didn't want that page to look funny, the old trick was to type the repeated keyword phrase at the bottom of the page using the same color as the page background so it wasn't visible to the visitor. As optimization evolved, so too did the sophistication of search engines and their ability to understand the content of a web page. That trick stopped working. And so it goes with every trick that ignores these simple rules.
RULE #1: Build For Your Audience
When you build a webpage for the specific purpose of ranking, you lose your audience in the process. Let me ask you... Are you building a website for Google? Or are you building a website for a prospective customer? Let's ignore the rules you've been told about page optimization for a second and consider what you SHOULD be doing to reach your intended audience.
1. Content should flow down from general to specific
2. Content flowing from left to right is your funneling process. It starts with teaching and education and ends with what the visitor needs to do next. (Now you know why contact us is always the last page in the menu!).
3. Unrelated topics need to start on their own vertical set of pages. Don't confuse content... you'll confuse your visitor.
4. One topic equals one page. You have unlimited pages on a website, you don't need a single page that covers everything. Think about this the next time you're tempted to list all of your products and services on one page under a tab called "Our services". OK... you can do that but if you don't build pages underneath that page (top to bottom) specifically explaining each service that you're offering, you're not doing you or your website visitors any favors. You also have no way of tracking what your visitors are most interested in!
5. From each page in your site, make sure your visitors can easily find related pages and topics. The further down they have traveled on a particular path, the more engaged they are and the hungrier they will be for related content. GIVE IT TO THEM!
RULE #2: Once you've got your content established, THEN Optimize For the Search Engines
If you followed the guidelines above, it is far easier to optimize your site for the search engines. Each page has a specific topic - that's your keyword. You may have a couple of related keywords in the same page, that's ok too.
1. There are three metatags buried in the code on each page of your site. These do not show up on the page. These also do NOT necessarily determine how you're page ranks in the search engine... but they help. Here's what you should know.
- Title Metatag: Describes you page content. This should be a concise, keyword rich 60 characters.
- Description Metatag: Describes why somebody that finds your title listed in a Google search should click through to the page. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of your description meta-tag. We tell our clients: "You have to SELL the click". Don't just look like nine other listings on the page.
Here's a physical example of how 50Bubbles sets up the home page.
Here is the corresponding listing in Google. You can easily see where the description and title come into play. Note that my Title is too long and gets truncated. If you do this, make sure the most relevant part of your title is at the front.