I manage a website so search engine optimization should be a large part of my job. Until recently I hadn’t paid much attention to it. At my job we hired a new digital agency to redo our website. During the project we briefly touched on SEO, but not enough for me to realize its importance. The digital agency handled all the coding to make sure our pages and content were optimized for search. The only part I assisted with was assigning priorities to certain keywords. The new site launched just more than a year ago and that was the last time I put any thought into SEO. Here we are a year later and SEO is our topic for the week. It is probably time for me to turn my attention back toward it and see how my site is doing. After this week I’ll know how to make any adjustments needed.
What I took out of our readings is how complex this subject is and that it is time-consuming. After reading the Google Webmaster Guidelines I’m glad I had an agency that could take care of all the technical aspects. From the guidelines I finally learned the importance of using ALT tags on images. The spiders can’t see images and the ALT tag puts a text description on images. It makes a lot of sense that Google is such a stickler with its guideline, because if they didn’t search result pages would be overrun with spam. The Search Engine Marketing site provided a great list of definitions that further help to explain the intricacies of SEO. My key takeaway was how important sitemaps are with search since they are the “best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your site” (Anvil, 2010).
The SEO Beginner’s Guide was by far the most useful. It really broke down all the aspects of SEO, and I now understand the steps I need to apply to my work website. The first step is to make a list of keywords, which seems like the hardest task to me because there are endless possibilities. How are you supposed to know what people are searching?
Today I did some digging in Google Analytics and found that your account will provide you with the search terms people used to find your site. For anyone who is looking for the search terms, go to traffic sources, search, overview and then the keywords tab. Finding this made me feel like I hit the lottery. Google Analytics also has a search engine optimization section but you have to connect the Webmaster Tools with your analytics account. Then you’ll be able to view queries, landing pages and geographical summaries. I know what I’ll be doing at work on Monday.
Another useful tool I tested out was the Google AdWords’ Keyword Tool. This allows you to check the demand of certain keywords. It also grades how tough the competition is for that keyword. It isn’t always wise to spend time trying to move up the ranking with a keyword that has high competition. You may not be able to shift positions for that keyword, so your time would be better spent working where you can make a difference.
What search engine do you prefer and why?
With all this talk about search engines, I’ve always wondered why Microsoft launched Bing. While Bing has created some fun advertising campaigns, I don’t feel like it will ever make it to the same popularity level as Google. comScore reported in December 2011 that Bing had 15.1 percent of the market share to Google’s 66 percent. Bing had a fun idea to have people take a test to see which site they preferred. I took the test and Google won. Even if Bing had won I wouldn’t have changed my search engine preference. When I think to search something Bing never enters my mind. I just don’t think Bing will ever resonate with people the way Google does. Do you think Microsoft will settle for always coming in second or will they pull the plug on the investment at some point?
What I’ve learned from all of this is the extreme importance of SEO. Search engines drive a lot of traffic to websites, so you have to spend time making sure you’re getting the most out of it. You continually have to evaluate where you fall within the results and check your analytics. Then you can make adjustments to your strategy as you see your site fluctuate up or down in the rankings.