In the dog-eat-dog world of freelancing and web design, SEO has ceased to be a cool trick reserved for the elite big boys on the Internet. It’s now for little guys who need to get noticed, too. Since the process is fairly easy, it’s probably time you get more SEO … and get more of everything else in the process.
Yeah SEO can get you more of everything. Like more work, more site visitors, more clients, fans, and let’s not forget more money. SEO isn’t quite as easy as winning the lottery, but with SEO you do have better chance of striking it rich than you do with the lotto. So, to get down to it, what is SEO and how can it work for your design business?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What that means is tweaking, adding, or amping up the stuff in your website to make sure that it gets a top spot on the search engines. Optimizing essentially means that you craft everything in your content and meta content to make a search engine give you a higher listing. People searching will notice you sooner. After all, what good is a website if nobody looks at it?
SEO is more than just nice words on a nice website. It is a science—led by a group of techies who know how Google searches for stuff, and how to make websites get in on the searches better. Web crawlers, software driven by algorithmic formulas, delve deep into every bit of information on your website, indexing it and arranging it in order of importance into search engine results. Thus, optimizing your site for search engines means organizing this data in order to make the crawler consider your site more important. It has very little to do with what colors you use or how the shadow on your logo looks. Optimization usually involves the following:
- Keyword Content. While it is important to make sure you frequently repeat your targeted keywords in your content, make sure to includes terms that are related to the keywords. Many search engines make use of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) to check if you’re simply stuffing your pages with keywords. Including terms related to the keywords your targeting is a good way to avoid any problems.
- Lots of links. Cross-linking within your site is a helpful technique, but getting more links from outside websites to your site is even better.
- Meta stuff. Organizing meta tags is important for optimizing your site. Making sure that your URLs are canonical and placing key words or phrases in the guts of your coding make a website truly optimized.
Why work on getting your site optimized? In one word: money. Not to sound greedy, but that’s why you work, right? You also work for the sheer enjoyment of it. Optimization gives you both–more money, more work. So if you want to stay on the top of the search engines, get more visitors, and maintain a flow of work–SEO is important. But how do you do it? You have two options: outsource, or work hard.
Outsourcing: There is no shortage of companies that would like to take your money in exchange for SEO services. It may be worth the money. Depending on the depth to which they go, the tricks they know, and their track record of success, they may be able to do a great job at it. These companies normally provide a full-service package that involves way more than the scanty suggestions listed above. The result is a transformed website and a money-generating machine.
Work Hard (i.e., do it yourself): If you have the chutzpah to do it yourself, go right ahead. With a bit of research and a flair for writing (oh, and a bit of time), you can optimize your own site. This involves the simple act of determining and using keywords, and tweaking some of the meta tags. As you do, make sure you follow some of the SEO rules of the road. Keyword stuffing is a self-explanatory sin that gets you rejected from search engines.
However you decide to accomplish SEO just do it! SEO is the single best method of driving free traffic to your website.