In my opinion, web design should include optimizing the pages for search engines. There should be no need to employ a second professional to make a site show up in search results.
But, apparently most web designers consider search engine optimization something separate from site creation. Just last week I worked with a local caterer whose professionally developed site was invisible on Google and other search engines. I am beginning to understand how business that specialize in Search Engine Optimization can make money.
The original designer had put up a fine looking site, but there were no words on the site to tell Google what the pages were about. I take that back: every page had the same title with “catering” the third word of the page title. But, that was it.
The site mentioned the type of events the business catered, like weddings. But the word “catering” was not emphasized in the visible text on the pages. None of the images had ALT tags — HTML code that describes pictures for the visually impaired and for search engines — with the word “catering”.
So, as far as Google was concerned, the site could have been about “wedding chapels” or “wedding planners” or “wedding dresses”. Maybe the site could have been in results “wedding food” or “wedding chef”, if anyone searched for those terms. But, for “wedding catering”, the site was not going to show up.
We decided to try to attract searchers for:
- San Francisco Bay Area Catering
- San Francisco Bay Area Bar/Bat Mitzvah Catering
- San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Catering
- San Francisco Bay Area Corporate Catering
We also decided to try to show up when people searched for “Marin” and the catering terms listed above.
Our changes went online Monday, and the search engines have started to respond. Google already lists 3 terms in its top 10 results, 5 in the top 20, 7 in the top 30, and 10 in the top 100.
This morning I tweaked some pages to help more terms, and we’ll be monitoring this first round of optimization for the next couple months.
Real people are starting to notice the site, too.
Before the site was updated, we tracked visitors for a few days and saw that no one came from searches for “catering” on the Internet. When anyone used Google to find the site, they searched for the business by name. So, they weren’t looking for catering services, they were looking for Michael Goldstein Events catering.
When I looked at the statistics this morning, some people had come to the site after checking Google for “catering” or “Novato catering”. It’s just a trickle of visitors at this point, but it’s a start.
I remain surprised that so many web designers can publish sites for business clients that don’t appeal to search engines. When I create a new site for a client, I don’t charge extra for optimizing the site for visibility on Google. I incorporate good search engine techniques as part of making the overall design. I think all web designers should do the same.
But, until they do, I’m happy to help businesses with under-performing web sites get into search engine results!
I found your article interesting about optimizing Web Sites,
regards, William Louckx,
Johannesburg, South Africa
I am currently doing some SEO work for a corporate caterer in Atlanta, GA and this post was very helpful! Thanks for teaching us how to optimize better for Google. Sometimes its easy to forget ALT tags, or to prioritize certain keywords in links so I appreciate the reminder. If you get some time, check out the website Im working on in my bio.
You made this post on 2011, but people still find it useful when searching about SEO for catering websites. I can say this is an example of evergreen content. :)