The reason why the words SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are found so often on the internet is that this aspect of building your website/blog or your business is so important. Without correct SEO techniques and implementation, your site will be lost among the hundreds of millions of other sites out there. I always compare it to having an ad in the yellow pages, only there are no page numbers and the ad is not alphabetized or categorized.
So how do the search engines find a site, and how do you get your website onto pages one or two of the search engine results pages?
Firstly, SEO is not difficult, but it does involve following a set of rules. Google has a wealth of information for webmasters, and in light of the February 2011 Google Panda algorithm change, it is a good idea to read that information and abide by their rules. Many websites suffered because of the algorithm change. Their webmasters thought they could do it their way, and have been penalized for using underhanded tactics, and rightly so.
How SEO Works
SEO is fundamentally the way to get your website, product or service found when someone enters a relevant search term into a browser. This is either a one-word search “keyword” or a number of words “long-tail keyword” or keyword phrase.
SEO and keyword research go hand in hand, the trick is to use a number of these keywords, the correct amount of times when you write your headers, article body and links to other sites, and when you post pictures and videos. All these component parts of your site should contain these little “hooks” that a search engine’s web crawlers, called bots or spiders can find.
Keyword research should take time. If you are just building a one-time website, you can use Google’s free keyword tool, or if you intend to build a number of websites, it’s a good idea to invest in some software, such as Market Samurai or KeywordSpy. The technique is the same whatever you choose to use, and we are assuming here that you have chosen to build a niche website. You will have a considerably harder time if you have chosen to build a site about an enormous, general subject such as shoes or cars.
If you go to Google keyword tool you will put in a word relevant to your product or service and a list of choices will come back.You should sort them by monthly searches with the highest at the top.
The numbers at the top of the list are generally huge, and not the keywords you should aim for. Somewhere on that list you will see decreasing numbers for different related words, and these are the ones you should aim for. It depends who you talk to, but searches within the 30,000 down to 3,000-search range are good.
You can then go ahead and make your choices and build some articles and links around those words.
The same applies here, but with phrases you are going to have to be a little more creative, especially when writing articles around these phrases. Some of them are going to be difficult, as an example, 2900 people searched for the phrase (or long-tail keyword) “kids make money online”. That’s not an impossible phrase to weave into an article, but in a 500-word article, you will have to use that phrase at least 3-5 times and in links and the heading of your article.
Google’s bots “read” your articles and look for your keywords, that way it knows where to put you in its index. You can’t use the keyword too often, or you will be penalized for “keyword spamming”. This is where the optimization comes in. As a rule of thumb, use your keywords at 1% density throughout your article, in the header and in any links. If you make a video or post a picture, use the keyword again as titles. Of course, the object of writing articles is to help and inform the reader about your product, so it has to be coherent – not simply written to please search engine bots!
Optimizing Your Site’s Code
If your domain name contains your keyword phrase it will rank higher and if it matches exactly it will rank even higher. If you have a very unique niche this may be quite easy, but finding the right domain name can take ages, as most good ones are already taken.
Headings in your site are in a very specific order, with H1 being the main, with other headings’ tags in decreasing order. Include your keyword or keyword phrase in the main heading.
The meta description tag is very important but doesn’t affect page rank, it simply tells visitors what your site is about. Use a good meta description for each page you write and include your keywords. You will see these meta descriptions when you get the results of a search, and they must be short and snappy – like those two-line descriptions you get on the back of a DVD.
Title all pictures and videos with a keyword if you can, don’t leave them with just a number, e.g. 0001345.jpg – it’s useless to search engines.
Sitemaps are essential as search engines use them to travel through your pages. They are either coded for search engines and created in XML, which includes all the pages, or HTML – which can be read by visitors.
Cross-linking web pages not only makes it easier for your visitor to move around your site, but search engines like cross-linking a lot.
This is a subject all on its own and is the most tedious and difficult parts of building a successful website. External links are votes of confidence from other sites and the search engines count them. The more external links you can get, the better ranked you will be. External links should be to and from relevant sites and the higher the page rank of a site that you can get to link to you the more points you will get.
The Panda algorithm change was aimed at people that were getting external links by using link farms, writing useless content, scraping content from other sites, copying articles from other sites, keyword stuffing or spamming, to name a few.
Once you get into the habit of using correct SEO techniques it will become second nature as you build your website. It takes time and patience, but you will be rewarded for your hard work in the form of traffic, and traffic equals sales, which equals income.