By Kalena Jordan (c) 2008
If I was to ask you right now "Are you absolutely certain that your web site is optimized for high visibility in search engines?", what would you say?
What if I was to ask "What position in the major search engines does your site appear in for your target search terms?" Or how about "Does each page of your site have tailored Title and META Tags?"
If you would answer "No" or "I don't know" to any of these questions, you would be amongst the 60% of web site owners whose web sites are missing out on traffic because they are not designed for search engine compatibility. Has your web designer optimized YOUR site for your target keywords? Have they made sure it is visible in Google and the other major search engines? More than likely, you don't know because they haven't told you. Ask them today!
But what exactly is search engine optimization? Simply explained, it is the technique of attaining a high ranking in search engines and directories via changes to your site code to make it more search engine compatible.
In my experience, web designers keep a lot of secrets. One of the biggest ones is that they have no clue about what makes a web site compatible with search engines. Another is that they like to build expensive, flashy sites and so convince their clients that an attractive web site never uses a lot of text.
So your web designer may have included target keywords and phrases in your Title tag and META tags (in the HTML code of your site). They may even have explained to you that these are very important references that search engines use when ranking web sites for search relevancy. I've met many a web designer who claimed that this was all it took to optimize a web site.
But did you know that you need to tailor your Title and META tags for each page of your site? Did you know that optimizing your site meta tags is only a tiny fraction of the job? Did you know that search engines actually need to find target keywords within the visible body text on your site pages in order to find it a relevant match for related search queries? Did you know that they also need to find those same keywords and phrases used within the text links that help people navigate your pages?
It's true. For search engines to rank your site highly for particular words or phrases that you would expect potential visitors to type in, each individual page of your site MUST be built with those words and phrases in mind.
For example, if you are a Miami florist, you should have logical search phrases such as "flowers", "Miami florists", "bouquets Miami" and even target search terms such as "Miami weddings", "Valentine's Day gifts" etc integrated in your title and meta tags, as well as in the visible text of your site. Better still, build and optimize a page for each product or service that you offer. That way, if anyone types in those phrases in a search engine, your site is more likely to appear higher in the search results.
Can you honestly say your web designer has built your site with your target search terms in mind? If not, it might be time to schedule an appointment with them.
So why wasn't your site optimized for search engines when it was built? Depending on who developed your site and how it was built, you'll find a million different reasons for this. Many web developers believe it is the site marketer's job to ensure the site is found in search engines and vice versa. Most don't bother checking that your site is found in the important search engines, assuming you or your marketing department will do it. Or perhaps it wasn't discussed in your original development budget.
Not many web design firms know how or have time to optimize a site successfully, no matter what they tell you. They might feel it is outside their core business, or they might believe it is not part of the "design process". Consequently, your site can be launched for many months without the search engines having any idea it exists.
Some web development firms don't include even the most basic META tags in your site code when building it. Or those that do include META tags without close consultation with you, resulting in the wrong search terms used and poor performance. This is quite typical! Remember that search engine optimization requires both client interaction and constant monitoring to be successful.
The bottom line? If your designer can't show you substantial search engine traffic they've achieved for other clients, chances are they won't be able to optimize your site properly. Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists have sprung up to fill the need for these services. Many SEO's will work either directly with you or with your web site designer to ensure your site gets the exposure it deserves in the most popular search engines and directories. My suggestion is to pay a little more for a specialist with a good track record and reap the rewards.
Remember, search engine users generally only explore the first 10 or 20 search results. If you site isn't in the top 20, you won't be found, it's as simple as that. Always include search engine optimization into your marketing budget or your site could be as effective as a billboard at the end of a dead end street.
About The Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.