Search Optimization Basics
These are some simple, basic search engine optimization techniques to help boost your ranking in the search engines and get your website seen!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Search engine optimization is the term given to techniques (both on your site and off your site) to increase the amount of organic traffic (and the quality of traffic) to your website. There are other many other important ways to promote your site, such as networking, promotion, and advertising in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio – but it is SEO that is discussed below.
How can I optimize my site for search engines?
The number one rule is to create your website for people, not search engines. If you create a site that is useful, or interesting, you will win the approval of people who visit your site. They may come back, and they might even tell others about your site.
Use a keyword tool to find out what the most popular search terms are for the subject of your website, and for the subject of each page of your site. Use these keywords in your content – but don’t load your page with keywords. Your content should flow naturally. Search engines are looking for good content – not a page full of keywords!
These are the clickable titles you see in search engine results. It is vitally important to write unique title tags for each page of your site, using your best keyphrases that accurately describe the content on each page.
The length of title tags shown in Google results is 65 characters.
Important phrases that describe the content, goods or services contained within each page of your website – and phrases that a web user is most likely to type in – should be on each page of your site. (Concentrate on 2 or 3 different key phrases for each page)
Good quality content
Search engines do not know badly written content from quality content, but good content keeps people at your site longer – which the search engines DO monitor. Having said that, they can discern whether a site is full of spelling mistakes, whether the pages are stuffed full of keywords, whether the content is original or a duplicate, and many other things.
Search engine algorithms are getting more sophisticated all the time – so don’t get caught with sloppy content.
Quality content will contain a natural flow of your keywords and key phrases, without being repetitive. Good quality content can help you to gain quality backlinks.
Good quality inbound links
A link to your site coming from an established, respected website, tells a search engine that your website is useful, popular or important.
If all your links, or a large percentage of the links coming to your website are from ‘bad neighborhoods’ (spam sites etc) search engines may penalise your site.
Being listed in quality directories such as DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, or even Wikipedia! (not easy!) – all helps your page ranking.
An inbound link to one of your pages should ideally consist of your keyphrases for that page.
Good quality outbound links
If you link to spam sites and other bad neighborhoods on the net, you are likely to be have your pages filtered out of search results or even penalised.
If your sites contains outbound links, you should ensure the links are to respected, credible sites. The links should also ‘make sense’ – they should link to a page or site that relates to your page or site.
Many domain experts believe that long-standing sites do better in the search engine rankings than do newer sites. Some people buy old websites and build them up. However, you can build a brand new website and still gain good rankings.
Links within your site (anchor links) that point to a particular page help to tell a search engine how important that page is within your site.
Good domain name
Choose a good domain name. Aim to make that domain name as short as possible. A short, memorable domain name might enable visitors to be able to type your site URL directly into their browser.
Naming your pages well
Name your page according to what is on the page. This helps tells a search engine what the page is about. Like this: mydomain.com/chocolate-cake-recipes.html
Your website should have a sitemap – these tell a search engine information about your pages, such as the importance of each page, how often your website or pages are updated. XML sitemaps helps the search engine to find and index each page.
Crawlability of your site
Much of the above will not do you any good if your site cannot be crawled by the search engines. Some sites that are made entirely in Flash, sites with incorrect robots.txt blocks and sites with other crawl issues will have problems.
Crawlability is extremely important.
One way you can check crawl issues with your site is to register with Google Webmaster Tools, add their code to your pages and then have a look under Diagnostics and Tools.