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Imagine my delight when a web development conversation started up on a recent flight. The gentleman next to me was a guitar player in a band and had recently started a business selling musical instruments that he and his partners were making. His next task: build the company website. I asked him if he'd ever developed a website before and he said, "No, but I have a book on SEO." He went on to ask me if I had any recommendations to help him get started.

Get started? Get started with what? Building the site, learning how to program, or were we ready to jump right to Search Engine Optimization? Well, at least he had one thing right. You do need to consider SEO in the early stages of developing your web presence.

What is SEO? - SEO is the practice of making your website as attractive as possible to search engines. I say "practice" because it's a mixture of art and science. The usual goal is high placement on major search engines, like Google and Yahoo, for search terms that are germane to your website. High placement on Google means lots of free traffic to your site. It sounds easy, but it's not!

Is Search Engine Submission the same thing as SEO? - No, submission is the next step. You need to optimize your site first, then submit it to the search engines that you are targeting.

The Google Algorithm - Since Google spashed on the scene as the leading search engine, web developers everywhere have been trying to figure this one out. I also flew next to a Google employee who told me that this mysterious algorithm is Google's most closely guarded secret and that it is a moving target. You can't rest on your past successes. What got your site in the top 5 last year may land you on the 4th page next year. Remember, the search engine is trying to produce a quality search result. They want to reward their searchers with the desired links. They don't really care if you spent 4 weeks or $3500 on optimization.

Tried and True - Here is a list of techniques that have worked in the past.
  • great title tags for each of your pages
  • meta keywords that match the content of your page
  • meta descriptions that accurately reflect your page contents
  • writing site copy that reflects your desired keywords
  • keeping your site's content fresh
  • building a network of external links FROM other sites TO your site
Newer Techniques
  • blogging on your site to keep the content fresh and germane
  • utilizing software to generate meta tags based on your content
  • XML Sitemaping of your site
  • RSS Feeds of your content
  • using social networking sites (myspace, digg, youtube) to generate a buzz about your site
  • Long Tailing your site where you have more pages and think of each page on your site as a side or back door to your site. You apply the tried and true to each of your pages.
  • Search Engine Friendly URLs - using page names that reflect the content of your page.
SonicFog is constantly tracking the moving target of SEO. We have successfully optimized sites to get search terms to high placement, number one in fact, and enjoy the study of the science and the art. When we design and develop websites and web based applications, we incorporate the practice of Search Engine Optimization in each step of the process.