Sample Website Analysis: Search Engine Optimization

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Most people find websites by searching for them. At its best, search engine marketers try to make it clear what a web page is about and what related topics people are searching for.

Here are some samples of the advice I've given my clients to help optimize their websites for better search engine rankings.

"Customer testimonials would add a lot to your search engine rankings, if your site had pages of comments such as "Loved your dinner! That cucumber sculpture really made my evening, and that cantaloupe sculpture was a work of art. Best caterer I've had in a long time. - Juan in Ypsilanti, MI." That one comment might get you high rankings when searching for "Ypsilanti caterer" - even higher for "cucumber sculpture"!" [Indeed, in December 2006, this page topped most of the major search engines for the term "cucumber sculpture" - a neglected culinary art form.]

"As far as search engine optimization, my initial thought about your website is "location, location, location." You want to put your location on every page you can, preferably in the title."

"Assume that if your city name doesn't appear on the website somewhere, your site won't be visited by any customers in that city. It should appear prominently, in the title and the first heading."

"Learn to use semantically optimized headings. That is, don't use a bold tag for a heading, use an heading tag. That tells the search engines that it's a heading, that the words in the heading are important to you, and that you want to get higher search engine rankings for the keywords in the heading."

"Each of your web pages should have a different title that tells your visitors what that individual page is about. Don't use the same title for each page. Check them in your browser. Make sure none of them say "Untitled"! "

"Google likes themed sites, covering the whole span of information. For example, they think sites that talk about "accounting" should also talk about "finance," and that sites about "plumbing" should also discuss "bathrooms."

"Your website has great information about your restaurant's history, but the "theme" is incomplete. Google seems to think that sites about "dining" should use the words "food," "kitchen" and "cooking" more than you do. Instead, you say "cuisine" and "elegant" a lot. Maybe you're too upscale for the rest of us! "

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