SEO Basic Tips
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is usually one of the first questions on everyone’s mind and one of the least understood. Most people realize that getting your site to appear in the top ten results of a search is important to driving traffic to your site. How do we get our site in there? The results you see in main content area are what are known as organic results and are determined by the developer’s (i.e. Google) tightly guarded formula. There are some basic, no nonsense guidelines we can follow to help our sites climb up the ladder though.
Registering your Domain Name
Make sure you register your domain name for more than one year. The longer the better and you will save a few dollars to boot. The reason for this is because the companies that run the search engines know that fly by night companies, people with malicious intent will only register for one year and when you register your domain for 5 years or more it shows you not only have confidence in the success of your business, it shows that you are serious about being around for awhile.
Choosing your keywords carefully
Finding the right words for your site is bit tricky. There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration before you commit.
First, pick niche keywords; trying to use generic keywords like ‘websites’ will do you very little good. You will be competing with too many other websites. Unless you can afford to start bidding on a generic keyword (the big corporations spend more than $250k/month on just keywords!) and become one of the highest bidders, try to pick keywords that more closely fit your special niche.
Next, make sure you can use your chosen keywords 3 three times in the text on the page. This is considered the optimum number; any less and it loses importance; any more and starts looking like keyword stuffing.
Before we get to the next part, it is necessary to point out that there are two keyword objects;single keywords like ‘website’ or ‘apples’ and then there are keyword phrases like ‘lowest prices’ or ‘gaming software engineer’. Each of these are considered as a single item. When these are entered into the meta-tag area of your web page, they are separated with a comma and that separation determines how they are interpreted. Which brings to the next part; the golden rule here is to limit the number of keywords and/or keyword phrases to no more than 10 total. Your keyword phrases should contain 2 or 3 targeted keywords.
When it comes to SEO, keywords and keyword phrases are the key to getting found. Keyword phrases being as important as keywords. Do you your homework carefully and don’t be afraid to come back and try to improve what you have. Due diligence here can pay off handsomely.
URL, Title and Description
Once the search engines (search spiders or bots) find your site thy first thing they look for besides the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the Title of the page, i.e. <title>This is my technical blog about blogging</title>, then the Description, i.e <meta name=”description” content=”This what we do. We blog about widgets.” />.
There are two things about the URL we will touch on here. One is you want to keep it short and easy for people to remember and the other is you also want it to be a name that is also niche specific. I know a lot will cringe at the idea that your domain name should be built around keywords. Just know that www.mycompanyphiladelphia.com will rank higher than www.mycompany.com.
You can help your rankings by the way you name the pages, too. Here it is easier to incorporate keywords as we don’t need to concern ourselves with how easy these are to remember.
Back to the Title tag; here we can focus on placing targeted keywords too. Generally speaking the closer to the beginning of the Title the keywords are the more relevance that will be given to them.
The Description Meta tag is also fairly important. Search engines tend to use it to gather information on the topic or theme of the document. A well written Description is phrased in two or three complete sentences with the strongest keyword phrases woven early into each sentence.
<h1></h1> Tags vs <p></p> Tags
The <h1></h1>, <h2></h2>, etc tags are given higher relevance than anything between the <p></p> tags. Plain and simple. These are of course the HTML tags that wrap the content on the page.
The last thing I want touch on is the anchor tags, better known as links. You might incorporate certain keywords to any external links you may have on your page. Search engines pay attention to backlinks as well. Backlinks are links from other websites to your site.
In conclusion, a good balance between keyword balancing and professional content is an art form all on its own. This balancing act is why there are companies today that specialize in SEO and do well at it and because people are always finding new tricks and loop holes and cause the search engines to come up with new ways to rank the legit sites, it makes SEO practice an eternal learning curve.
My next article I will focus on “Bad Practices and Other Magic Wands” as related to SEO.
– Marc Hall