I've always argued that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is part art, part science and part black magic. Certainly, the "black magic" part applies at times, especially when it comes to Google who keep their algorithms close to their chests.
Yet there are some basic things you, as a website owner, can do to help yourself get in and stay in the search engines.
What's that? You're already in the search engines? Cool!
It doesn't hurt to check. Don't assume that just because you've got a site that any of the search engines know about it. A quick test is to go to Google's home page (www.Google.com) and type in:
site:www.[your site name].com (or whatever).
So, in my case, I'd type:
The results will show you how Google "sees" your site. The results can sometimes be quite surprising, especially if it comes back "not found"...
The results of this search tell you a couple of the things about how your site is viewed by Google. For example, several of the results that come back when I put in my search include "Phoenix Web Design Company" in the title. This is good. I am a web designer and want to be relevant when it comes to web design related searches. Looking at your results, what shows? Is it relevant?
The text above the line (the link) is what is called a "Title" tag. When you're on a website, the title tag is what displays at the top of the page. This is also used by Google (and others) to help web surfers find useful sites. The title tag is generally limited to 60 characters and should be relevant. Google has become very efficient at weeding out titles and content that aren't relevant to what the site is trying to say.
The text under the line is what is called the "Description" tag. This is 150 characters long. You may have heard the term "meta tags". Well, the description is one of these. In 150 characters, the description should expand on the title tag, and provide a little more information about the page in question. Again, like the title, it should relate to the content.
Are you with me so far...?
If what you see in the title or description results returned by Google are just your company name, or something less relevant, then you might want to consider changing them. This is where the "part art" comes in. You don't want to "stuff" search terms into your title and description. That can be just as damaging as not having anything. The title and description must be relevant, but also should be useful because these two items are used, in conjunction with a page's content, by the search engines to index your site.
Depending on your web master or hosting company, you should be able to tweak these, just be sure to understand how to do it properly.
The third part of the text is the link to the apge that the title and description is talking about.
Of course, in the interests of shameless self-promotion, you could contact me :)
In part 2, I'll go into more detail about relevant page content.