Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) related information

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Basics

Search Engines

Getting to the top of the Google search results is a big deal, clearly. When I do a Google search, I don’t too often travel far beyond the first page of results, and you probably don’t either. The bottom line is that if your website is on the first page, you get lots of traffic (and business). If your website is on page seven or twelve you’ll get zilch.

So how do you get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP)? Well, SEO (search engine optimization) of course! But, SEO is costly and complicated, right? After all, there are people whose sole profession is to optimize websites to rank high on Google. SEO can actually get rather complicated, but the very basics are pretty easy to master and are actually the most important part (yet often overlooked). Whether you’re doing it yourself or with the help of a Tucson web designer, you can get your website ranking higher and generating traffic.

Forget SEO

One of the most important things to do when you want your website to perform well is to forget SEO. Just stop thinking about it for a while. People get so caught up in “optimizing” their site that they forget what Google’s algorithms do — they try to bring the most relevant content to the end user. Good SEO doesn’t amount to cheap tricks like keyword stuffing, of course, but it’s easy to get so carried away with trying to please the search engines that you forget to design and write your website content for your target (human) audience. Make the site good for the people who want to view it, and let Google do its job.

Title tag

One of the most basic elements of a web page (that you’ll read about on about page five of any HTML book) is the website title tag. The search engines pay close attention to the title tag, and yet it’s amazing how many people have a generic “Bob’s Tire Shop” title tag in place for every page on the site. Each page should have a unique, relevant title tag with appropriate keywords.


Just like the title tag, the headings are important, too. They’re very basic html elements that are important to every web page, and yet so many people (even established designers) misuse them. A lot of people stick their Logo or business name in the level 1 heading tag of each page! Don’t over think it, just ask yourself what the appropriate heading is for each page’s content, and put it in the <h1></h1> tags.  Use subheadings, as well.


The search engines don’t pay as much attention to keywords you stuff into meta tags any more. What they really care about is the website content. Good content yields better search results (after all, that’s the point, list the most relevant websites for each search). If you want your website to rank well, start creating good, relevant content.

Meta tags

Meta tags are invisible tags that don’t change the look of a website. The search engines originally used these keywords and page descriptions to figure out how to index pages, but people obviously started taking advantage of this. The search engines don’t pay as much attention to these as they used to, but they do pay attention, and they do notice when the tags are missing or contain duplicate entries.

Internal links

Your website should have good navigation, and you should be especially diligent in using descriptive text when making links. “Click here” doesn’t tell the search engine anything about the page you’re linking to, but “View roses and tulips” does. Breadcrumbs (the You are here: Home > Sub-page part of the site) help the search engines (and end users) navigate through your pages.

Links to your site

Search engines pay attention to who links to your site. If lots of people link to your site, they realize it might be a site of some value. If lots of high page rank sites link to your site, they really start to like you. So, write articles and share your link with other relevant, related, complimentary sites. The key here is quality, not quantity. One quality link from a trusted website can do a lot of good (while lots of spam links can actually hurt you).


A sitemap is a simple file (or page) that lists all of the pages of your website. You can specify how important each page is, and it will help the search engines (and people looking through your site) figure out what all is there and where everything is located. Many web designers don’t take the time to set this up, and they’re making a big mistake.


Writing good, clean code that validates is important for the consistent display of your website across different web browsers, and will make for a better overall website that’s more likely to list well in the search engines, too.


I get a lot of people who tell me they want to “rank high on Google.” My response is, “rank high on Google for what?” People search for millions of different things, and one of the first steps to getting your website in the listings is to figure out when you want your website to show up. Should your website be ranked high in the results for “flowers” or “Tucson flowers” or “Tucson flower shop”?

Using Google keywords analysis tools, you can actually compare different search terms to see how many people Google them every month, allowing you to target a search that gets the right amount of traffic (not so much that it’ll be impossible to achieve, like “flowers”, but not so little that it’s not worth the time, like “Tucson Lillie and Daffodil supplier.” You’ll want the keywords to appear in your site with an appropriate density — use them here and there, when appropriate, but don’t overdo it (it won’t help you and might hurt you to do so).

It’s pretty easy

All in all it’s pretty easy to get your website search engine ready. If you’re running a big website with lots of depth and many, many pages, SEO can get pretty involved and intricate. Even then, these simple basic building blocks go a long way toward getting your website where it needs to be in the listings. And the fact that so many people overlook them works to your advantage, if you take the time to pay attention.

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