Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The most popular search site in the U.S., Google, tells us to “base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what’s best for the visitors of your site”. As a web designer, I have always held the same belief. In fact, I think of myself as an advocate for your visitors (aka the user experience). And you should too. Here’s why.

Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization: Laying the Groundwork

First of all, there are 2 things I can say with absolute certainty about SEO and about Google in particular:

  1. Google heeds its own advice– the quality of the user experience for search, is critically important to maintaining and/or improving its market share (over 65% in the U.S.);
  2. Google has the right to change its search algorithm without notice, and they often do so to improve the user experience and increase their profits– whether we like it or not.

The point is, what Google does (or doesn’t do), is completely beyond our control, and as soon as you think you have it all figured out, the rules will change again, and traffic may plummet… or increase.

Furthermore, it seems logical, that Google wants to include quality content in its search results– not poorly written, poorly designed, and/or poorly coded websites with transparent ads; popup windows; and pages over-stuffed with keywords. And as it turns out, the same applies to most human beings.

So, do us all a favor— forget about “gaming the system” and build (and manage) a better website! And don’t be tempted to rely on a single-marketing-channel-strategy to attract visitors.

Is SEO Worth Pursuing? In Most Cases, Absolutely!

Having said all of this, you certainly don’t want to do anything that will work against you— including nothing!

In a future post, I’ll introduce you to a WordPress plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. It will help you write with discipline– beginning with a definition of target keywords for each article or page you write. It also analyzes each page and provides suggestions for improving on-page optimization. When the page score is “green”, rather than red or yellow, you’re good to go.

Let’s Measure the Results

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some homework: be sure you have a way to measure the results of your work— and do so on a regular basis. My favorite tool for during this is called Clicky. But many people like and use Google Analytics. Here’s a post that will get you started:



1. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
2. comScore Search Engine Rankings

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