There is a lot written these days about advanced search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, Heck, I’m guilty of it too. But what if you are new to this strange world of getting sites like Google, Yahoo, and MSN to rank your pages high on a search result, where do you begin?
SEO is the process by which you set-up your site in order to maximize its presence in search engine results. Sites like Google send out automatic search engine spiders that analyze sites and pages within those sites; the better the spiders rank your site, the better your SEO and the higher your pages are ranked in any given search result. Although this is highly simplified, there are three basic things search engines look at, and which you can work at, which make your site pages stand out in any search engine result:
1. Create original content: Search engines are very partial to original content. That means that if all you do is re-post interesting articles from other sites on your site, you are not getting much SEO benefit at all. Instead, you must create new, original content, and keep it fresh. The more you update your site with new content, the better your SEO.
In addition, not only does your content need to be fresh and new, it also needs to be full of keywords and key phrases. A keyword is a word that someone might type into s search engine query. Think of the old TV show Match Game. If their search query matches keywords on your site, then they will have a match and your site gets ranked higher in that search result. So your fresh, and often-updated, content must be full of great keywords and phrases.
Of course, this begs the question: what are the right keywords and phrases for your site? After all, the terms you think people use relating to your business and what they actually do use may be two different things. Don’t guess. Instead, you may want to check out a tool like Wordtracker which looks at millions of actual searches and then suggests words that best fit your site.
2. Tags: The title tag is the line of text that is normally displayed at the top of a browser window. For search engine spiders, title tags are a main clue as to what the page is about. Therefore, a descriptive title tag, and one that uses keywords, is essential for good SEO.
For example, let’s say that you sell NBA doodads on your site and some of your main key words are “LeBron James, NBA, boibblehead.” As such, on your page where you sell that item you would want to have those key words at the beginning of any page title: “NBA - LeBron James bobbleheads.” Then, if the content on that page, and the keywords on that page, match the title tags, bingo!
You would do the same for all other pages; the more specific the pages and titles, the better.
And note: for most search engines, your title should not be longer than about 70 characters since, if it is longer, it would be cut off on the search results page. For this reason, your domain name should not be part of most title tags.
3. Links: There are two types of links you want – internal and external.
Internal links are links from one part of your site to another part of your site. The important thing here is that you want to link key words and phrases internally.
External links are more important. These are links from other sites going into your site – not links from your site going out to other sites. The more and better links you have going towards your site, the better your search engine rankings will be because the search engine algorithms conclude, rightfully, that your pages must be relevant if other site point to them.
How do you get other sites to link to you? Here are a few ways:
· Content: Content is king. Good content, submitted to other sites, social media sites especially, can create valuable links. Similarly, creating great content on your site will be get people to link to it. A blog is very useful for this purpose. (Blogs are also great because they force you to write fresh keyword rich content fairly regularly.)
· Paid links: Pay-per-click ads are one-way links to your site. Also, you can pay Yahoo $299 for a listing in its directory and that can be a good link to have. Other sites have directories as well.
· Reciprocity: Link exchanges used to be all the rage, but less so today because reciprocal links are not as valuable, SEO-wise, as one-way links to your site. But it’s also better than nothing.Of course there is a lot more to SEO, and it is always evolving, but these three things – content, tags, and links, are a good place to start.