Facts You Should Know About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Free, or organic placement, lives in the body of a search engine result page (SERP).
- Paid placement (i.e. Google Adwords) lives at the top and right side of a search result page.
- Search engine placement, or rank, is ever changing.
- When it comes to organic search engine placement, there is never a guarantee of how or if a site will rank.
- For new sites, or sites that have had very little content on them, it takes time to be recognized (indexed) by search engines – often up to 4-6 weeks.
- The longer a site lives on the web, the better it will rank because search engines see that the site has stood the test of time.
Best practices mean enhanced rankings
Even though there is no guarantee on organic placement, there are certain “best practices” that can be done to ensure that sites are set up for success. All properly optimized websites should include the following:
- Submission of the site URL and some meta-data to directories such as Google, Yahoo and OpenDirectory. This prompts those search engines to recognize there is a new site to index.
- Search engines will send their “spiders” or “bots” to automatically crawl these sites. This means they take inventory of site pages and the content within those pages.
- During the development of all of program sites, we build in “best practices”. These items make it easier for search engines to properly index your site and crawl its content. To give you a better idea on what to look for:
- Keyword rich and dense text. Search engines love lots of text and relevant content.
- Unique and accurate meta-data including descriptions, keywords, page titles that are relevant to the content within the site. This information should accurately describe the content of a given web page.
- Text that is in your titles and headings throughout the site will get more weight that what is in the page body. There are varying levels of headings to distinguish importance (H1, H2, H3, etc.) that we apply.
- Well-structured web site architecture that is easy to navigate allows search engines to crawl a site with greater ease. This helps them to identify text and relevancy needed to correlate information with user search queries.
- Domain/URL. A descriptive URL that reflects the page content is likely to do well as it shows relevance and consistency.
- Using accurate and descriptive file names for documents, again relevant to the content within the page and making it human readable.
- Optimize “alt” text for images so that descriptive keywords are used to indicate what images show.
- Using good, clean and well-formatted code (syntactically valid code).
- Fresh content. Keeping content fresh is important. Adding a blog is a good option to consider.
- Web optimized pages that load quickly and reliably. This makes it easier for search engines to recognize.
- Organic search results reward for relevant content. When we develop a web site, we highlight and summarize the content to make it easier for search engines to find. Keep in mind that it is truly the relevance of the content that will determine its organic placement.
So what else can I do to enhance my ranking?
There are things that you can also do to help with SEO.
- Invite credible web sites (associations, societies or organizations they are members of, hospital affiliations, etc.) to link to your website. This is referred to as “link juice”.
- Add content! Search engines understand the Internet is dynamic and changing, so they constantly re-evaluate the pages. That’s why content is so important. Keeping content fresh and up-to-date by having lots of keyword rich and deep information will set your site up to be recognized in user search queries.
- To help index your site faster, submit an XML sitemap.
- Keep it local. We all know that healthcare is local. Submit your site to Google local. These are generally the first organic results found on a page.