Monday, February 1, 2010

Keep it Fresh - Search Engine Optimization

I am not a good writer. I know some amazing writers and I am not one of them. I'm a designer, a visual person, I'm all 'show' and not so great at telling. This is a problem on the web because it doesn't matter how beautiful my designs are or how amazing a photo might be, search engines are blind to images.

Lori Culwell's recent article in the Huffington Post reminded me of my SEO rule number 1 - a rule which for some reason I have a very difficult time getting people to comprehend - which is simplistically "SEO is all about content".  I guess that is very simplistic because here is Lori's take;

"There is not a week that goes by in my capacity as a Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Professional (a field I've been working in since the dotcom boom in San Francisco) where someone doesn't email me to say some combination of the words "Can you fix my metatags? My site has a really high bounce rate."

So, my answer this question is: yes, I can fix your metatags. There is a slight (a very slight) possibility that you've put something really awesome up on your website, and that because the site is wrapped in Flash, or your web guy didn't know anything about keyword analysis or where to put the tags, Google is not finding it, and that's why no one is coming. But, can I just be honest here? The high bounce rate is the giveaway. The fact that once people get to your website they leave, because YOU'RE NOT TELLING THEM ANYTHING NEW, is what lets me know that all the SEO in the world is not going to help you. ..."

So yeah. Translation, get a copy of Dreamweaver or Contribute or start blogging or do something to change up the content on your website more than once a year. For a website to get a decent SEO ranking you have to keep your content, I mean your TEXTUAL content fresh every week or so. There is no amount of photoshop magic that can possibly be done to make Google rank one page over another.

Design and visual elements absolutely do affect a site's bounce rate (how long a visitor stays on the site once they find it) but these have no affect on SEO. My recommendation is always have a beautiful website and always keep the content fresh.

Get more SEO advice in Lori's book:

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