A client may not see behind the closed doors of a web page and most don’t understand the coding and techniques for building a web page. This is where a designer can pull the wool over the client’s eyes and charge for something they don’t put the time into. SEO is very time consuming if done right and can be very effective. So what is a person to do to avoid getting blinded by deceitful web designers and developers?

First and foremost is to have rich content and lots of it. One way to know when you have enough content is to compare with competitors. Make sure your information is relevant to what you are trying to accomplish with both search engines and more importantly providing visitors with useful material.

Within your content be sure to have useful keywords on the addressed topics. There are several resources that offer free keyword searches that will assist in choosing relevant keywords. For instance, Google has an adwords keyword search tool (www.adwords.google.com) where you can type in topics and provide keywords that are used the most when people search that topic. Keywords may seem obvious, but these tools will provide information on what keywords are being used and what keywords you should be using.

Once you have your content and keywords it is up to a designer to do the rest. A well optimized website will “meta” in the head of the HTML document that is your web page. These “meta” tags provide search engines with additional information of page content. The most important is the “title” tag. This tag should have keywords towards the beginning of the tag and explain each page. The “meta name=description”” tag is the snippet of information you see below each search result. These are perhaps the two most important “meta” tags that major search engines use. The “meta name=keywords” tag is helpful but often overlooked due to abuse.

Now we know this much, what else is there? besides the “meta” tag, the “h” tag plays a part in search engine optimization. A page can have up to 6 different “h” tags or heading tags. These tell search engine robots and spiders that the word or phrase within these tags are important and relevant to the page topic. It is good to use keywords inside these tags to place emphasis on these words or phrases. Another way to produce emphasis on keywords and content is using bold letters (“strong” tag) and bullets (“li” and “ul” tags). You want to place a strong presence on keywords using these techniques.

Being the client, how you can you tell if a designer or developer is doing their job up to this point? Look in the top portion of your web browser to the right of your browser tabs. There is a “Page” button with a drop-down arrow. When you click on that button and the drop-down appears, click on the view source section at the bottom. This will allow you to view the source code of the web page you are viewing. You will see (or should see) the “title” and “meta” tags at the top of the page. As you scroll down you should see the use of “h1″, “h2″, “h3″… tags throughout the page placed on keywords and section headings. You should also find bolded text and bullets for key points that can be seen just by looking at the page.

There is one last point I will make that should help those who are paying for SEO find out if they are getting their money’s worth and that is backlinking. Backlinking let’s search engines know your website is important. The more links to your website that are on other external web pages the more prominent and relevant your website is to search engines and people using search engines. It makes perfect sense really. If people are willing to link to you then it shows you are trustful and informative. You can never have too many links on the world wide web to your website. It drives traffic to your site, creates more business, and helps search engine rankings. There are resources such as the Free Traffic System (www.freetrafficsystem.com) that can assit in getting your link on tens, hundred, or even thousands of web pages to improve search rankings. This is very important in increasing your spot on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

This was just a quick overview to give an understanding of what search engines look for in hopes to provide some insight to people paying for web design services. There are many website designers out there who won’t charge outrageous prices and can get good results. Nothing is ever promised in the search engine world as it will never be revealed exactly how search bots operate. At least now you can understand how it works and what to look for.

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