SEO Best Practices – Title Tags, Keywords & Inbound Links

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation on search engine optimization at a luncheon mastermind workshop of the National Association of Entrepreneurs in Winter Park, Florida. In the following video clip, I share some basic best practices you should keep in mind when optimizing a website for Google and other search engines.



Top 20 Press Release Distribution Sites

Tired of searching for the best free press release sites on the Internet? PRsitelist.com has come to the rescue.

The Internet marketing firm  has come up with its Top 20 list of press release sites based on the following factors:

  • FREE submissions
  • Releases are submitted to Google, where they remain visible and searchable long after being archived
  • They cater to businesses, the media and other related venues
  • They get fairly high ranking on Alexa, The Web Information Company
  • Most provide SEO backlinks to your Website – helping to drive traffic
  • They allow for at least one SEO feature: keyword list, meta tags, or anchor text.

PRsitelist.com states that this list isn’t going to guarantee you’ll have a journalist calling you for more information, although that could happen.  If you want to increase your chances of getting your company’s news in a local  newspaper, for instance, it’s much better to contact an editor or reporter directly.

But, if you do want to help increase your company’s visibility on the search engines, and build brand awareness for your product or service, then submitting a press release to these sites is a great idea.



Yahoo Kicks Keyword Meta Tag to the Curb

Don’t bother filling in the keyword meta tag on your website’s source code anymore. Yahoo’s senior director of search, Cris Pierry, said this week at the SMX east conference that the search engine stopped using it “a few months ago.”

Thanks a lot, Cris. Just two weeks ago, when I wrote about Google ignoring the keyword meta tag, I suggested that it wouldn’t hurt to keep some keywords in there since Yahoo still looked at it. So much for that advice. Sorry, folks.

So, what does this news mean in the grand scheme of SEO?  Does this mean keywords aren’t important?

On the contrary! They’re the backbone of getting found online. The “key,” pardon the pun, is to make sure that your keywords and phrases are written in the copy you display to the world.

But don’t stuff them in there.  That’s probably the reason why the major search engines have stopped looking at the keyword meta tag. People crammed so many words in there to artificially boost their rankings that they forgot about creating relevant content online that people would want to read!

The bottom line is, create a web page that is relevant to your readers. Sprinkle two or three different keywords and phrases throughout each page. Make the copy compelling and interesting to read.

But don’t forget about meta tags altogether. As I said a couple of weeks ago, the title and description meta tag are still relevant to the search engines. So, put some of your best keywords in there. That will help get you noticed by Google, Yahoo and more importantly, your potential customers.



Google Shuns Keyword Meta Tags

Do you spend a lot of time researching words and phrases to include in your website’s keyword meta tag?  If so, you may want to put a brake on your efforts.  At least, if you only care about optimizing your website for Google. 

In a video released earlier this week, the popular search engine said it does not use the keyword meta tag for ranking purposes.  Period. End of story.

Once upon a time, using the keyword meta tag was a great way to insure search engines would find your site. But then people started loading up the keyword meta tags with words – related or unrelated to the site’s content – just to get noticed.  The repetition of words in the meta tag is probably why Google doesn’t focus on it anymore.  The search engine is more concerned with the actual content on your site and how relevant it  is  to your target audience.

Just because Google isn’t focusing on the keyword meta tag doesn’t mean you should ignore other meta tags. Google still pays attention to the description meta tag. This is a great place for you to use keywords to describe what a particular web page is about, and include a call to action.

You don’t have to ignore the keywords meta tag altogether. You can still put some keywords and phrases here because other search engines like Yahoo still use it.  But it’s more important to have two or three keywords/phrases per web page, and write content in a way that it engages your reader and encourages them to move through your site and take action. That way you can be sure Google and your potential customers will take notice.


Keyword Rich Titles Get You Noticed

Shhh… Don’t tell Yellow Pages this, but Google has taken over its territory!

When I need to look up a phone number, I don’t drag out that heavy telephone directory (that still gets sent to my house for some reason).  I just hop online to Google!

No more flipping page after page, squinting because the print is too small.  If the company I’m looking for has optimized their site correctly, I’ll find the phone number I’m seeking right away.

But wait a minute…. What if a site ISN’T optimized right?

For example, what if someone told me about a gourmet coffee shop, but I can’t remember the name of it.  To find it online, I’d probably search “gourmet coffee” + Orlando (if that’s where the shop is located).

If that business has a website, and wants to be found by local customers, the easiest way to get noticed is to make sure the meta tag titles of its site include keywords such as “gourmet coffee” and the name of the city where the store is located.

What’s a meta tag title?

It’s essentially a headline that describes the contents of a web page.  It’s found in the web site’s source code and gets displayed on a search engine results page.

It’s important to keep two things in mind when crafting a title for your web page:  keyword placement and character length.

Let’s go back to our gourmet coffee shop.  In this example, we’ll pretend the name of the shop is Java Jean’s, and the domain name is javajeans.com.  If you know nothing about search engine optimization, you might be tempted to use Java Jean’s as your home page title.  But that would be a big mistake.

Remember – you need some keywords.  After doing some keyword research on sites like wordtracker.com or Google’s keyword tool, you decide to use “gourmet coffee” in your title.  Which of the following titles do you think will rank higher?

Java Jean’s – Gourmet Coffee

Gourmet Coffee – Java Jean’s

It seems logical to put the company name first, but from an SEO standpoint, the keyword “gourmet coffee” will rank higher on Google & the other search engines since it’s more relevant to what the web site is about.

What about character length? The titles listed above are fairly short.  You can add more information to a title, such as including a location for example.  But don’t go crazy.  Titles should be no longer than 65-75 characters, including spaces.  Anything longer will just get cut off by Google, when it’s displayed on their page.

Don’t forget about the rest of your web pages.  Each one should have its own unique title featuring keywords that are relevant to the content on the page.  While it’s common for sites to feature the same basic pages, such as “About Us” or “FAQ’s,” these titles are opportunities to provide keyword rich content for the search engine spiders to find.

Your home page title also doesn’t even need to feature your company’s name, especially if that name doesn’t describe what your business does.  That’s what the description is for.  But I’ll save that discussion for another day. 🙂


How to Attract Visitors to Your Website and Convert Them into Customers

Ever wonder why some companies seem to struggle online, while others rank high on Google and make money hand over fist?

If all things are equal between two companies in the same industry – the difference probably lies with the firms’ websites.

Odds are the successful company has a user-friendly site that features a customer-benefit headline so a visitor can quickly see what that company has to offer.

Write content for your site that quickly conveys the benefits your company provides to potential customers.

You only have about 3-5 seconds to make an impression online. If you don’t have an attention-grabbing headline on the home page – your visitor will hit the back button and do business with someone else. 

Once you grab that visitor’s attention, keep it by writing copy in a conversational style. Make your paragraphs short and to the point. Emphasize the benefits of your product or service, not just its features. People buy because they want to, not necessarily because they need to.

Of course, if you are in the B2B market, features are important.  A person shopping for a new copier for their business wants to know if the machine can handle small or big jobs, whether it can print in color or just black and white, and the printing speed.  But don’t neglect the benefits here either. If a particular copier will make his job easier, and doesn’t cost his company a fortune, those are important benefits to note in your copy.

Include keywords in your website content.

Keywords are words and phrases people use to search for a particular product or service. If you want your website to be found by the search engines, the content on your site must include these keywords.

To ensure the search engines find your site, keywords also need to be included in the title and description meta tags found in the source code.  The title and description are displayed on the search engine results page. If you don’t specify this information in your source code, Google and the other search engines will pick out information from your site and display whatever it wants.  Creating unique titles and descriptions for each page of your website, and including carefully selected keywords in them, enables you to control the content displayed.

How do you find these keywords? Google is a good place to start. The popular search engine has its own keyword tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. This tool helps you see which keywords are used frequently and which are not. Two other excellent sources are KeywordDiscovery.com and Wordtracker.com. These are subscription services, but they do offer free trials.

The key to effective website design is keeping your customers’ needs in mind.

Provide solutions in clear, concise language and include appropriate keywords for the search engines to find. When you take these steps, you’ll convert website traffic into paying customers. That’s a return on investment your business can appreciate, in any economy.


Why Welcoming Visitors to Your Website May Drive Traffic Away Instead

Putting “Welcome to Smith & Jones Company” on your website may have worked when the Internet was new, but that strategy can cost you sales and search engine rankings today. There’s a better way to attract customers: write benefit-oriented content.

There are millions of websites competing for attention. People are too busy to spend a lot of time reading content. They want to know right away if your site is going to help them.

Instead of literally “welcoming” people to your site – get right to the point, with content that convinces a visitor to stick around, explore your site, and do business with you. Make sure you’ve got a headline that clearly communicates the benefits your product or service offers to a potential customer. You’ve only got about 3-5 seconds to make an impression. Use words that count!

Some companies still put “Welcome” in their title tags as well. This won’t help you with search engine optimization. In fact, it may do the opposite.

Search engines are looking for content. Your title tag should provide specific information about what your company does, with keywords people use to search for your business. And you only have a limited number of characters to get that point across. If your title is too long, the search engines cut it off and replace the extra words with an ellipsis. If you want to communicate more information about your business, use the description meta tag instead.

Welcoming visitors to your site may be polite, but it’s just not necessary. Use your precious title tag and landing page space for clear, concise, benefit-oriented copy. That’s the way to ensure good search engine rankings and higher conversion rates.