Search Engine Optimization is Easy

Okay, so maybe SEO isn’t as “easy” as my somewhat contentious title suggests, but it’s a lot simpler than many people make out. Once again, it’s our friend the page <title> that seems to provide the biggest bang for the buck and some fast results.

A friend recently asked me to make some updates to her web site. The Flash intro page needed updating (!) and there was some outdated information on the site.

Axe the Splash Page

Well, naturally I tried to persuade her that she really didn’t want to keep the intro page and fortunately she saw the logic of my argument. On taking a look around the site to see where the updates were needed, I soon realised that it didn’t need a few updates but a complete makeover if it was to be turned into a useful business tool.
When I ran her site through the search engine spider simulator, literally nothing showed up – her site was all but invisible to search engines (quite an achievement).

Review Site Statistics

I took a look at her site statistics, which confirmed what the simulator showed me – her site averaged from 2-5 visitors per month from search engines. And those were using phrases that included the company name. No one was finding her site by searching for her line of business – which incidentally is window treatments (shutters, blinds, drapes and so on).
I’m a little too busy to redesign her site at the moment, but I was able to impress on her the need to write lots of great keyword-rich copy, which she is now in the process of doing.
However, I did notice that I could at least fix her page titles, which were currently reading “ – welcome” or something similar – completely useless as far as driving traffic to her site was concerned.

Suggestion Tool to the Rescue

Not knowing much about the window treatment business, I popped over to Suggestion Tool to see what sort of searches people were conducting on Overture. In September there were 78,720 searches for the phrase “window treatment”. That’s a lot.
However, there’s not much point in someone from the East Coast coming to her site so I looked to see how many searches were performed for “window treatment seattle” – 164. A lot less, but potentially a lot more useful traffic.
Checking on Google for this search phrase showed that there was little or no competition from other vendors for this search phrase, so I decided it was a good one to target.

Fix Page Titles

I changed her page title to “Window Treatments in the Seattle area from Window Works” and updated her description meta tag to something more appealing for when her site started showing up in search engine results pages: “Our window treatments will turn your rooms into special places. We combine years of experience with the best new ideas and designs.”
I didn’t do anything with the actual content of the site as it was largely done through images (especially the home page), and frankly, it was late and I was tired.

Fast Results

I left it at that and checked back in a few days. I was very surprised at the results. The web site is now on the first page of Yahoo! and MSN for the targeted search phrase (although not Google, which has not yet indexed the site). And looking at the referrer logs, we already had 5 visits search queries that included window treatment phrase (3 for “window treatments seattle”).
That may not sound like a lot, but these are very targeted visitors, who would have never found the web site previously.

Good Copy is Key

Of course, now that visitors are starting to come to the site, the key is to improve the site so that they go on to make an inquiry, but I was surprised at how just changing the page title could have such an instant effect. I’m sure once the site has some good copy added, it will fare even better on the SERPs.