Feb 13, 2006, 12:51 PM
Post #1 of 1
Let me start off by saying thank you to all the camps that have started to use the Camp Scholar feature on MySummerCamps.com. We have noticed a 30% increase in usage of the Camp Scholar program. In turn, we have measured a significant increase in the search engine rankings of the camp websites that we are monitoring that have started to use the Camp Scholar. If you haven’t done so already, click here to put Camp Scholar on your website.
Little things that make a big difference in SEO
The title of my piece, Little things that make a big difference in SEO, refers to mistakes that I frequently notice on camp websites and how I would correct them. Naturally, camp websites are not the only offenders, but in my day to day surfing, I visit many camp websites and often notice SEO faux pas.
First under no circumstances should a website use frames! Not frames not inline frames … just forget frames altogether. What do you need them for? It is just as easy to build the site without frames as it is with them. Just use a table or if your adventurous and want further brownie point from Google, try your hand at CSS.
I’m constantly amazed at the countless title tags that are improperly implemented.
Don’t let HTML language scare you away; you or your webmaster easily can get the hang of it and learn this simple code.
Look for this simple title tag: <title></title> tag at the top of your html. The title tag is critical because: It tells your visitors and search engines what your webpage is about.
Too often the title of a camp website is “Summer Camp” or “Name of Camp”. This simplification is impractical when trying to rank high on search engines; the title should include a clear description of the camp focus and the name of the camp, in that order.
For example a soccer specific camp called ‘jacks summer soccer camp’ should have the following title tag:
<title>Summer Soccer Camp & Sports Activities - Jacks Summer Soccer Camp</title>
ie: <title>Keyword phrase 1 & Keyword phrase 2 - Camp Name</title>
I added some keywords such as ‘soccer’, ‘summer camp’, and ‘sport’. People will search for ALL of these terms on Google to find this fictitious camp. Key point: the title tag is what search engines display as the ‘title’ of each search result. Make it clear so that when users read the title of your search result that they know your site has all the information that they are searching for.
Important: Every single page should have a UNIQUE title.
Here’s another HTML strategy – the Meta description tag. I have set it up for you in a step-by-step method. Be persistent with the application of this code and you will pick it up in no time.
The Meta description tag is displayed on search engine results as the basic representation of your site.
Using the example camp above, your description should be something like this:
<meta name="description" content="Send your child to the best Summer Soccer Camp in the USA. Jack’s Summer Soccer Camp located in California has helped hundreds of kids develop their soccer skills and their teamwork skills.">
The Meta description tag should be between 25-30 words.
The explanation for this example is as follows:
Place your keywords and a clear definition of your site’s offering at the front; utilize similar keywords and a more detailed explanation for your Meta description tag; set up a users’ option to click to your site for more information when your listing is found on search engine results.
Meta Keywords and Keyword Stuffing
Here’s a little trick to make a big difference in your SEO.
People have a tendency to misspell words when they search online. To take advantage of these mistakes, you can add a misspelled keyword to the end of your keyword list. For example, if I were to search for a ‘summer camp’ I would only find your site if you have ‘summer camp’ as a keyword.
As a webmaster, I always spell check the site; if I were to add ‘sumer camp’ to my meta keyword list, my site would show up for someone who misspelled it on their search, and that misspelling would not actually show up in any of my site content. Win win! Now don’t go nuts here, 15-20 keywords including misspellings max.
Keyword Stuffing refers to the act of inserting hundreds of keywords into your meta keyword field as well as your html code. Do not do this! It will only harm your results.
- DO NOT use the same keywords in Comment tags
- DO NOT use the same keywords in ALT tags
- DO NOT add keywords in small text on the bottom of your page in the same color as your background
Search Engine Friendly Text
I’ve seen countless camp websites that don’t have a single word of text on their homepage. A flashy intro or images and links are all they have on their homepage. This is a HUGE mistake. Your homepage is where you want to introduce yourself to both your visitors and search engines.
I suggest that you include:
at least a paragraph of text introducing your camp
the type of activities offered, description of your setting (waterfront, forest …)
feel free to throw in some keywords here and repeat the important ones
be aggressive, if you want to go after the term ‘summer camps’ and repeat it three to four times in the first paragraph
Beware! Repeat keywords too much and you run into the risk of saturating your content
Note that the sentence ‘Jack’s Soccer Summer Camps is the best Summer Camp in California’ contains two instances of the keyword/keyphrase ‘Summer Camp’ and 1 instance of ‘Soccer Summer Camp’ and two instances of ‘Camp’.
One last lesson in HTML and I’m through. I hope you haven’t found it to be a tough go. Remember, return to this article for several re-reads, and you will be very proficient.
Just a little familiarity with HTML language will go a long way in elevating your position on the search engines. Becoming familiar with the use of alt tags definitely will provide you with the advantage of being seen by internet users and search engines.
Every image has an alt tag. <img src=”URL/alumni.gif” alt=”description of image”>.
Since search engines cannot read what your image says it is wise to include an alt tag for every image. If your site uses images for your navigation you should definitely use the alt tag to briefly and clearly describe what that image will link to. Also, when users mouse over images, the alt description is displayed to help them.
SEO is not a science since no search engine publishes their algorithm for search results. It is BOTH an art and science. It takes trial and error and checking your placement on search engines before and after each change. Remember the changes are not going to be instant. So make your optimizations and start tracking for two to four weeks. If the trend is going upwards then keep working, if your going down on the results then undo your changes and try something new.
If at first you don’t succeed . . .
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(This post was edited by hagai on Feb 21, 2006, 6:54 AM)