Search Engine Optimization - the basics

A.  INTRODUCTION

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the volume of traffic to a website from search engines. The two most commonly used search engine optimization techniques are on-site SEO and off-site SEO. This guide will provide comprehensive descriptions of both.


B.  ON-SITE SEO

First let's discuss On-site SEO. This is all of the techniques that you can apply to your website from content to meta data.


B-1.  CONTENT

Quality Content: The most important thing you can do for on-site SEO is to create quality content that readers will find interesting and helpful. If users don’t like your content, search engines won’t either.


Keyword Density: This refers to the number of times a certain keyword is used in your content. For example, if the keyword you are targeting for a certain page is “wedding photographer” and you use that phrase five times on a web page that has 100 words, your keyword density is 5%. The optimal percentage if often debated but anywhere from 1-7% is okay. Anything greater than 7% is in danger of being considered spam, so remember not to overdue it when using your target keywords in your content.

 

Titles: The title of your web page or blog post is important because it tells search engines what your page is about. Think carefully about what title you give each page. What phrase do you want to use to target search engines? For example, if you want your keyword for a page to be “wedding photographer”, then try to use that phrase in your title.

 

Interlink Your Website: If you refer to another post in your blog or another page on your website, post a link to it. Doing this tells search engines that you have faith in your own content.

 

Update Regularly: Update your blog or website as much as possible. Search engines love fresh content. It lets them know that your website’s information is current and relevant. You don’t have to update every day, but shoot for at least once every two weeks.

 

Outbound Links: Think ‘quality over quantity’ when it comes to outbound links. Linking to other websites is a healthy SEO practice - as long as you link to reputable websites. Don’t overdo outbound links, however, as this will negatively impact your website’s rank.

 

Avoid Duplicate Content: Search engines don’t like duplicate content so avoid copying content from other websites or using the same content on several of your own pages.

 

Stay Focused on Your Topic: Remember to stay focused on a specific topic for each blog post or web page. Don’t talk about multiple issues.


B-2.  META DATA

 A meta tag is a HTML tag that gives search engines information about a web page without affecting how the page is displayed. Ten years ago, meta data was very effective. Some experts even wonder how effective it is these days. Non the less, we do it anyway.

 

Keywords: Remember to utilize keywords on a web page or blog post. Meta tag keywords are never seen by your users, but they inform the search engines what words or phrases are relevant for each web page or blog post.

 

A good tool to use to analyze what keywords or phrases you should try to capture is Google Keywords (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal). In Google Keywords, you can type in a word or phrase such as “wedding photographer” and find out how many searches there are for this phrase per month, as well as the level of competition for each phrase.

 

Title: This is different than the title in your content. This is the title that appears on the top of your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc). It is also the title the search engines use when your page pops up in a search. The goal is to try to make the title appealing to users while also relating it to your keywords.

 

Description: This is the description that appears after the title in the search engine results. Try to make it as descriptive as possible so viewers can quickly and easily grasp the subject of your website.



C.  OFF-SITE SEO

 Off-site SEO is all of the techniques used on other websites to benefit your website.


C-1.  INBOUND LINKS

An inbound link is a link from another website to your website. They are the most important part of off-site search engine optimization. Another way of understanding inbound links is that every time a website links to yours it is like they are giving you a vote. The more votes your website has, the better it will do in search engines. The three main components of inbound links are explained below:

 

Website Reputation: Unlike votes, all links are not created equal. The more reputable the website, the more powerful the link is to search engines. A link from Yahoo.com is a lot more valuable than a link from JoeSchmo.com.


  • A great tool to measure the reputability of a website is www.findpagerank.info.
  • To find how many inbound links your website has, go to www.yahoo.com and type in the search bar “linkdomain:www.yourwebsitehere.com” (without the quotes).

Content Relevancy: The more relevant the website and, more specifically, web page where the inbound link is located, the more powerful the link. For example, if your website is about football, then a great link would be the football page on espn.com.

Link Text: The text of the actual link is also very important to inbound links. If the keyword you are trying to capture is “wedding photographer”, then ideally the inbound link to your website will read “wedding photographer”.

 

 

D.  HOW TO GET INBOUND LINKS

Directories: Directories are websites that categorize other websites on the internet. Submitting your website to directories creates a link from their site to your own. Good examples are www.dmoz.org and http://dir.yahoo.com.

 

Ask for Links: Find friends with relevant websites and ask for a link or a review from their website. Remember to give them the link text you would like your link to have (this should be your targeted keyword). Warning: Avoid joining link exchanging/purchasing websites as search engines frown upon this.

 

Buy Links: You can offer to pay other websites for a link if you have trouble finding people to swap links with you. If you do this, make sure your link is in the content of the website, rather than on the sidebar or in the footer. Google will often discount links in these positions. Warning: Avoid joining link exchanging/purchasing websites as search engines frown upon this.

 

Create Link Bait: Create something really unique that people will find interesting or entertaining. For example, create polls, make videos, or make top-10 lists that people will naturally want to link to.

 

 

 

 



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