What is SEO? How to Get Found By Search Engines!
What is SEO? How to Get Found By Search Engines! avatar

What is SEO? SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s nerd-speak for making your site accessible to search engines. Popular search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing are massive catalogues (think the phone book on steroids) of information about the websites that comprise the Web.

Just how many sites are out there? As of October 2013, there are an estimated 767 million active websites! (Source: http://news.netcraft.com/.) No wonder it’s tricky getting your favourite search engine to find your site!

Without the benefit of search engines, finding your site in the web-wilderness would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Search engines rely on computer programs that scour the web, continuously gathering and storing information about websites.

These automated programs are sometimes referred to as robots, spiders or web crawlers. They are programmed to visit sites on the Web, recording bits of information gleaned from sources like page titles, headings, introductory phrases and meta tags. Meta tags are bits of HTML that are invisible to visitors to your site, but can provide a wealth of information about your site to search engine robots.

The trick to optimizing your site for good search engine results is providing lots of hooks to reel in search robots as they travel through cyber-space.

Top 5 SEO Tips:

  1. When you write for the Web, keep it brief and say what you mean. All search robots collect content – including headings and initial phrases. Make sure your writing is clear and to the point. When writing Web content ask yourself “what keywords would I use to search for this topic”? For more information regarding effective Web content visit our blog post “Creating Effective Web Content“.
  2. Encourage people to link back to your site. Site ranking methods used by search engines like Google use reciprocal links to determine what sites are “hot”. By creating links between sites that share a common thread (like terminology, social connection, topic) you strengthen the fabric of the Web and increase your SEO score in the process.
  3. Make sure that each page on your site has a title that relates directly to the page’s content. Not sure where to look for the title of your page? Look to the very top of your browser window: there should be a title that looks like this “Blog | Black Cap Design”. Creating or editing a page title requires editing your site’s HTML. Consult online resources on how to do this or better yet, contact your Web Developer.
  4. Include meta tags for content and keywords. Not sure if your site has them? Open your site in a web browser and right click on an area that contains text. From the menu that appears, select View Source. This will show you the source HTML markup for your page. Meta tags are located in the first few lines of markup. It will look something like this:
    < meta name="keywords" content="cats, dogs, canaries" / >
    < meta name="description" content="Pefferlaw Pet Store Featuring Cats, Dogs, Canaries and Llamas" / >

    Like editing or adding a page title, a meta tag fix will take some expertise, so either consult an online how-to guide or give your Web Developer a call.
  5. If you include images on your site, ensure that they have alternate text for devices that can’t see pictures. After all, search robots can’t see – but they can read! HTML provides you or your Web Developer the ability to provide alternate text for images. Adding alternate text for images is an easy and effective way to make your site more accessible and improve your search rank.

Other SEO points to consider:
Consider implementing a site map. Site maps help people and search robots find what they’re looking for. In addition to a standard HTML site map, consider adding an XML site map. Most search engines support and “like” XML site maps. For more information ask your Web Developer. They’re easy to implement and they work!

Check whether your site has been indexed. Visit your favourite search engine and search for your domain name (www.yoursite.com). If you receive a message indicating your site hasn’t been indexed, most search engines allow you to submit web addresses for indexing.

You will also want to update your content often.  Search engines like new content.  This is another advantage to having a WordPress site or blog you can update yourself.

Finally, if you’re concerned about getting a good page rank in Google’s local search results (e.g., search results from Canada if you’re Canadian, or search results from Australia – if you’re an Aussie) make sure your hosting company’s servers are located in your country or use a national top level domain such as .ca or .au (like www.yoursite.ca or www.yoursite.au). Why? If you have a .com domain and your web host’s servers are located in the US, Google will assume you are an American company. As a result, your site will not be found by people limiting their search to “sites from Canada”, or “sites from Australia”.

SEO is a worthwhile consideration if being found online is important to you. If you are having your site designed or redesigned, ask your developer whether SEO is part of the development process. The inclusion of meta tags, alternate image text and well formed content should be included in the development cost. There are likely to be additional fees for manual search engine submissions and XML sitemaps, but it’s well worth the money if your site depends on search engine generated traffic.

All the sites we design at Black Cap Design are built with search in mind.  If you have questions or need additional support with SEO, we offer Technical Writing and Content Development services that will improve your organic search results.  For more information please contact us at