The Sign Connection: A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Build it and they will come. This may have been the case for Kevin Costner in the popular baseball movie, Field of Dreams, but it’s a completely different story when referring to your sign company’s website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of setting up your website so it ranks particular keywords within the organic search results of major search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This is different from pay-per-click advertising, where you pay to compete with other advertisers for ranking in the sponsored search results section.

SEO may not be the sexiest aspect of Web marketing, but its importance is heavily weighted nonetheless. After all, best practices in SEO will drive more traffic to your site and boost your rank within organic search results.

In this column, we will break down the most common terminology associated with SEO and provide you will explanations of how these elements help get your website found online.

The Beginner’s Glossary

When it comes to SEO, there is a lot of terminology to remember. If you don’t know the basics, it can be difficult to follow along in a discussion. But fear not – we’ve got you covered with a glossary of the most commonly used words and phrases regarding SEO.

  • Crawling: This term is used to describe how search engines use links to reach various pages, files and other documents on the Web. Having a crawl-able link structure will ensure that spiders can reach other pages on a given website.
  • Inbound link building: This is a result of getting other quality websites to link back to your site. To do so, submit your website to online directories, like your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau. The more inbound links you have, the higher your site will rank.
  • Indexing: Indexing refers to creating content that is accessible by search engines.
  • Keywords: It all starts with the correct keywords. If you want to see what keywords are currently attached to your site, simply right click on any page and click on “View Source.” The source code with appear in a new window. The keywords you find are ones that you’ll want to appear in title tags (headings), meta tags, meta descriptions and throughout the body section of your website.
  • Meta description: This is the short website description that shows up below the link in the search engine. It can be thought as advertising copy used to draw the readers’ attention within search results.
  • Meta tags: A Meta tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of the Web page. This is what search engines look at when they want to know more about what is on a specific page.
  • Title tag: The main heading for a page that is an accurate and concise description of the page’s content.
  • Alt Tag: Search-friendly copy added to images on your site

Beginner’s Tips and Tricks

SEO is a main component of getting found online. Therefore, you need to incorporate SEO best practices at all times:

  • In the main body copy of the page, include keywords users might choose as search query terms.
  • Don’t put text that you want indexed inside images. For example, if you want your location modifier indexed by search engines, you would not include it in your company logo.  Geographic information is good to consider when using ALT tags.
  • Make sure content is written primarily for users and not search engines.
  • Build a site with inbound links. (See below.)

The creation of inbound links is a form of off-page SEO. Inbound links act as a recommendation or reference to your website. Therefore, the more you have, the more likely you are to show up at the top or organic search results. To build more links, follow these three tips:

  • Submit your website to directories like the Yahoo! Directory and
  • Communicate with others in your industry through blogs and social media
  • Create compelling content that will encourage others to link to

Properly optimizing for local search is an amazing way to promote your website. It also gives you an opportunity to interact with your community, becoming more familiar with your industry, area and listing agencies. You are creating a network that will be working for you 24/7 all at no charge.