What Does “Optimize for Google” Mean for Your Site?

Every time I go out and I teach a class on internet marketing, one of the first questions that I get asked is What does it mean to optimize your website for Google?

So let's take a look at what it means to optimize your site, how you do it, and why you shouldn't be paying someone every month to do it for you.

What is SEO or optimizing anyway?

When someone is optimizing your website for search engines like Google, all they are doing is helping the search bot, that scans your site, understand what the pages it's looking at are all about.

This allows Google to index your site pages in its "card catalog" of website pages from around the world.  If you do a good job of explaining it in a way Google can understand, you stand a better chance of showing up in search results when someone does a search and the information they want is on your site.

So basically - this is the process that happens:

  • You build a website (or have one built for you) - let's say your business is Shark Law Firm
  • Each page of your site is optimized for search engines based on keywords you want to be found for, like "Best criminal lawyer in Chattanooga, TN"
  • Google reads your pages and sees the optimization that's been done on it and files it away for your keyword
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    Someone does a search for "Best criminal lawyer in Chattanooga, TN"
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    Google scans it's index and checks a few things (200+ ranking factors) and returns a list of results for the searcher
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    Your page shows up in the list

How do we tell Google what the page is about?

This one will sound a little more technical - but primarily it's about choosing a keyword phrase someone would be likely to search for, and then giving the page a title and meta description.

Here - let's take a look at that a bit closer.  Here's a screenshot from a search:

A) This is where the page title that you set in your page optimization shows up in a result.  You should describe this page in 70 characters or less, and make sure it makes sense in a search result.  The top example shows a good title, where the bottom example is vague and doesn't really make you want to click it.

B) Your domain name and page links should be descriptive and easy to read as well.  For example, you should use stasiasbakery.com/custom-cakes instead of stasiasbakery.com/prodid?12345 so that it's clear what the page is about.

C) This is your meta description.  It should be 160 characters or less so that all of it displays in the search results.  You should summarize what the user can expect to read on this page if they visited it and make sure it's enticing enough that when they see it in a search result, they will want to click on it and go to your page.

Optimization is about more than just pages

A lot of people think that you can stop at just your site pages, but images should be optimized too.

You should make sure that each image has:

  • List A short, descriptive file name
  • An alt tag set that describes what's in the image (think of how you would explain this image to someone if they couldn't see it)
  • Make sure you do not include important text inside images - Google looks at the file name and alt tag, but it can't read text that's actually in the image

Make sure you're keeping your site up to date!

Google treats your site like a virtual storefront.  If you left your store unattended for 6 months, you wouldn't expect customers to keep trying to come visit you.  Google is the same way.  If it comes by and you haven't put anything new on it in a while, it stops coming back to check on you, and it stops sending customers to you.

It can be easy to forget that Google is a company with customers too.  The hard part to understand sometimes though is that you are not Google's customer.  The person trying to find a business like yours, is.

What this means, is that Google is trying hard to help the person doing the search to find what they are looking for.  If you happen to be the best answer, then you show up.  The best answer is likely to be the one that was published most recently and therefore is more relevant.  If a competitor published something on their site more recently than you, they show up higher than you in a search result.

Stop paying for monthly SEO services!

Really, this is one of the biggest misconceptions out there.  SEO = Search Engine Optimization.

Op•ti•mize | verb
To make (something) as good or as effective as possible - Miriam Webster

Once something has been optimized, it doesn't need it again.  The only exception to this is if you make a major change to your business.  If you move, or add new services, for example, you should have your site re-optimized.  However, even in that case, it's not a monthly thing.  It's a one time service.  As new pages or blog articles are added to your site, each of those should be optimized, but this doesn't require the whole site to be done again.

The Key Take-Aways

  • SEO is the process of making it easy for a search engine to understand your site's pages
  • You do this by setting the page title, page link, and meta description
  • You should optimize your images too by setting the image name, and alt tag
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    Don't include important text inside images because Google can't see it
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    Keep your site up to date by adding new content like blog articles, sales or specials
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    SEO is not a monthly service - so stop paying someone to do it!

Is your website Optimized?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you are going to optimize your site!

Edgar Guerra

Web Ninja

Growing up I saw the hard work my family put in day in and day out to give my siblings and I a better life style than they had growing up. They taught me that If there was anything I ever wanted in life I would have to work for it to earn it. I've taken their knowledge and hard work ethic to help me grow as a web developer.

I believe that if you want to be successful, you have to take the time and learn from people that have gone through the same road you have so you can learn from their mistakes and grow efficiently.

My mission is to help anyone who wants to succeed in life by helping them get there in what ever way I can.