January 23, 2012

Google: Your Way to the Top

Search engine optimization sounds vaguely mechanical and very hard.

So I tuned out when folks first started talking to me about it. This is, as you can imagine, not the best way to address a problem.

I decided to start learning more about search engine optimization (or SEO as computer brainiacs call it). And I discovered that it’s really a pretty simple concept: search engine optimization is just a way of tweaking your website so that search engines like Google and Yahoo like you more – and place you higher in the search list.

Real studies show that when people type in a search, they choose about 60 percent of the time a website listed on the first page of the search return. A very scientific study of my own habits puts that percentage at about 95. So it makes sense to me that if we want people to find our church and diocesan sites, we need to do things that will help elevate it on Google.

I’ll start with the easiest ways to make your site more popular. First, make sure your pages have real names. We all know that it is hard to remember name of the kid called 'filexx0011intro.' He never made prom king. Same with your pages. Give them names that have meaning. Your welcome page should have a web address (url) of welcome_to_all_saints_church. Google and other sites will look at all those words when determining its ranking on their search engine. I suggest adding church in there instead of just all saints because it’s more likely that people will search for church than all saints.

The same holds true for your pictures. Don’t just give them a blank or meaningless name. Be thoughtful about what you call them. Think about how Google will weigh the name as part of its top-secret search algorithm.

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs about keywords, meta tags, backlinks and spiders. We’re gonna take SEO in byte-size pieces.