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Searching for higher listings:
It's more about knowing your customer
than knowing about search engines

Elizabeth White






Thinking like customers is key to search engine optimization.





Admittedly I cringe whenever someone asks me about how to get their site higher in the search engines lists. It's part art and part science; is my usually response. I then add my disclaimer that there is a whole industry specifically tackling the search engine optimization issue. With all that said, if they still press for answers, yes, there are some low-tech things you can do to improve your site's listing in the search engines.

While some companies sell you the magic bullet, I sell you the bitter pill of having to know your customers. It is because it is your customers who are searching and not the computers. Computers and programming are the tools. Remember a few years back when people were putting the word "sex" in their keywords in hopes of getting more website hits? Did they want more sex-starved customers or did they want customers who are interested in their products and services? The answer depends, I suppose, on what you are selling.

In so many words, it's all about the customer

When setting up your web page, you should include a title, meta tag description and keywords, and the body text. This is what search engines are indexing. To select the right words for the title, description, and keywords, take out a sheet of paper and ... step away from the computer.

List 10 words describing your business. Rank them by importance. Take each word and write its derivative. If you sell clothing, for example, a derivative might be clothes. Take some of your top words and form your title. The title appears at the top of the web browser. Don't write a book, just a title -- about 70 characters which means you count the spaces and punctuation. Your title will be descriptive and highlight key aspects about your business.

Writing descriptive descriptions

The descriptive meta tag is what appears on the search engine list to tell you more about the link. Here is where you explain more about your business and, using the key words you came up with earlier, tell the reader why they should click on your link. Differentiate yourself from your competition, which is everyone else appearing on the search engine results page. Do this in just 25 to 30 words.

Searching for the right words

With that well-worn list of words you developed earlier, place the primary words and their derivatives in the keyword meta tag code area. Use a comma to separate the words.

Now make sure that the body text of your site uses the words in not only the paragraphs, but in the headlines and alternative text on the images. This will signal the search programs your page is a good match and listing your web site higher. What it also will do is to ensure you are getting the people who are interested in your business to your website. The people you will be sending to your site will be better qualified prospects and will appreciate how much you really know them. Customer focused: It's the true key to internet marketing.

Now you submit your site to the search engines and wait about 30-45 days allow the engines to fully index your pages. In other words don't freak if you don't see instant results. If you've optimized your web pages -- and I mean all of the pages on your site, you should see some big improvements in not only traffic, but in traffic conversion.

Elizabeth White is the Director of Interactive Marketing at Experienced Design, an internet business solutions company focused on helping its clients maximize the internet to its full potential.

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