Search Engine Optimization Basics

Oct 26, 2012

Search engines like Google and Bing are the table of contents of the internet, helping you to find the content that is most relevant to the terms, called keywords, you enter into them.

When a user does a search, they will see a list of pages relating to the keywords they have entered. For any given topic, there are likely many matches. Most people only look at the first one or two pages of results, so it’s important that you rank well for the terms you are targeting.

Setting Up Your Website

Keyword Research

As a marketer, it is important to consider what terms potential visitors may search for and incorporate those keywords in your copy. When doing so, it is best to focus on creating quality content that reads naturally and to target more specific, niche keywords. For example, a specific term like “wood floor installation” will likely have less competition then a generic term like “flooring.”

You can use Google’s keyword tool to help with keyword selection.

Meta Information

The search engines are smart and will look at the content of your site, but sometimes we want to emphasis what our pages are about. We can do this by using META information. This information is contained in the header section of a page.

The title tag is what the search engines will display as the link to your website. It is always a good idea to load this with two or three of your most relevant keywords from the page. This will help entice searchers to click on your link.

<title>Nautic Studios | Web Design | Web Marketing | Satellite Beach, Florida</title>

The meta description is often used by search engines as the description that appears in search results. While it does not directly affect rankings, it will give searchers a better idea what a page is about. Pages with accurate, compelling descriptions tend to have higher click-through rates.

<meta name="Description" content="Nautic Studios is a web design company. We build dynamic websites that generate excitement and prompt action.">

Note the title and description in our Google listing:


Each page on your site should have a title tag and a description tag. The title for each page should be unique, containing keywords relevant to that page.

Images and Alternative Text

Search engines only understand text.  They don’t understand what your pictures are about, unless you tell them.  When writing the code for your website, you can add the alternate text attribute to the img tag. This will let the search engines know what your image is about. It is best to do this for any image that is not purely decorative.


<img src="get-in-touch.jpg" alt="Get in touch" />

How Links Lend Credibility

The search engines don’t want to waste your time by showing you content that is irrelevant. They need a way to determine which pages, related to a topic, are the most popular. They do this by looking at how many other websites around the internet are linking to it. If a lot of people are linking to it, it must be of value.

Search engines also consider how popular the site linking to your website is. This affects how much weight the inbound link from that site is given when determining your site’s rank. It would be far more valuable for CNN to link to your website then it would be for your local newspaper, because CNN is a far bigger operation with many articles others have linked to and interacted with.

Not all links lend credibility to your website. Some websites, especially news and social networking sites, tell the search engines not to consider certain links. But, even still, these links can be a great source of traffic to your website.