SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is commonly thought of as a confusing and hard way to increase how high a website ranks in search engines. This is a large misconception, and making a website optimized for search engines can be relatively simple and requires little knowledge, however, will require effort and hard work.
What is SEO and how does it work?
To start with; SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is how your site is optimized for search engines. In essence, the friendlier to search engines your website is, the more Search Engine Optimized the site is.Search engines, primarily Google, Yahoo and Bing, all use web spiders or web crawlers that frequently search and crawl the web.
These crawlers and spiders collect data from the web pages they come across, such as; the content of the site, outgoing and incoming links, essentially everything on the site. As they crawl through web pages, the data they collect is stored in a database.When a person queries a search engine, the search engine then looks through the database to find the most relevant and high quality content, on the websites it has already crawled through.
The most relevant websites are then displayed in the search engines results, to the person who searched.But before the results are displayed, the search engine performs another process; this is called the search engines algorithm. The algorithm is essentially factors and variables that tell the search engine whether the content on a website is relevant to the search query, or not. The search engine performs a series of checks, and the more relevant to the search query the content on the website is, the higher your webpage will be displayed within the search engine results.
However, relevancy is not the only factor that determines how high your webpage is shown in the search results. What are some basic SEO tips?I will tell you some of the basic factors and changes that will increase your websites rank within search engines. This is a basic overview of on site SEO, and is not in depth.
Make sure your site is based around a specific niche, such as rabbit hutches for example. Having a site about everything, will be much harder to make SEO friendly.
To find good keywords, there are a few tools at your disposal you can use. I heavily recommend using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, its free, fast, detailed and is extremely effective at highlighting effective keywords and information about them.
It will tell you how many people are searching for specified keywords, and can therefore be used to show which keywords you should target.Try to target a keyword that hasnt got a lot to compete with. For instance, if you were to target the keyword online games, there are already thousands of sites that are also competing for that keyword, and you would be hard-pressed to beat them for the top search engine results.
Target keywords with high demand (lots of searches), but a low amount of competitors.Once you have your site targeted at a specific niche, make sure to place your keyword in key areas of your website. Some of these key areas are; the title of your website, your website URL or page URL, within links, within your main headings or other key headings, within your sites written content, etc.
Make sure your main title contains your keywords, as this is a key area that affects your search engine rank. A bad title will badly affect search engine results.
Also make your title compelling, so it looks appealing on search engine results.
However, search engines only show the first 50 characters or so of your title, so dont make it too long.
• Meta Tag Description
Another important part of your site is your meta tag. Effectively, this is the description of your site and the pages on it. This is the description that shows up under the title on search results, although it doesnt have a large impact on your page ranking; it is very useful for potential visitors. A good meta tag description can tell people, by viewing the search results, what the site is about and the content it contains.
Should you have a bad meta description; visitors will probably click on another website in the search results, which has a better meta description.
Content is one of the most important factors to get your site noticed by search engines. The more relevant content hosted on your website, the higher your site will rank. You can never have enough content on your site.
Include your target keywords within the content of your site.
• Internal linking/Sitemap
Internal linking is a great way to direct web spiders to crawl through all your other pages and content. Having a sitemap with links to all your pages, not just click here but links containing keywords and page names, will direct crawlers to these web pages through links using your keywords.
• Image ALT Attribute
Unfortunately, search engines are unable to view images; they rely on the alt attribute of an image to determine what an image is of. Describing what the image is showing by using the alt attribute, this can help increase your ranking and make your images show higher up on image searches.
Make your URLs simple and descriptive, not meaningless. Make sure your URLs contain your relevant keywords. A page title containing numbers, like http://blog.com/123 is not targeting any keywords and doesnt tell the search engine about the content that URL contains. If you were targeting rabbit hutches and your page was about pricing your page URL could be; http://blog.com/rabbithutchprices which is a much friendlier, and effective URL.
• Anchor Link Text
When linking to content or other pages, never just use click here as it gives no description of what you are linking to. Attempt to use keywords and basic information about the URL you are linking to. Such as, using rabbit hutches as an example again, a link that reads rabbit hutch prices.
THINGS TO AVOID
• Spamming Key words
Do not continuously repeat your keywords everywhere, over and over again. This will actually harm your search engine rankings, as it is classified as keyword stuffing.
• Broken Links
Broken links are also a thing to avoid. If there are broken links on your site, do not hesitate to fix it as it can and will affect your search engine rankings. This is because spiders and crawlers will index and record the broken links, but they contain no content, therefore reducing your sites rank.
The Link Checker, at W3.org, is capable of telling you all the broken links on your site.
• Using Flash
Do not make a site purely from Flash, as search engine spiders and crawlers are unable to interpret the flash. Therefore, they register the site as containing no content.
Also, menus made in flash are also a no-no. This is because the crawlers are unable to read the links, and they will not be able to index and navigate to your other pages.
Generally avoid flash.
• Cleanly Coded
Make sure your sites coding is clean and doesnt throw up too many errors, as this can affect how a crawler reads and interprets your website. Tools such as W3Validator and Google Webmaster Tools can help identify errors and problem with your websites coding.
Helpful SEO tools and websites?
• Google Webmaster Tools
As previously linked to, Google Webmaster Tools is a great and extremely useful tool for webmasters. It can display data from crawlers that check your website, detailed statistics for your website, check for coding errors and problems, etc.
• Page Rank
This website, Page Rank, features many online tools based around SEO, webmasters and domains; many of which can prove extremely useful. Tools such as; keyword suggestion, high paying keywords finder, related key words, meta tag generator, search engine simulator, link popularity checker and a many more. This is a great site for helpful SEO tools.
Seobook is similar to the pagerank website, however boasts tools based solely around SEO. Although, it contains less webmaster and domain tools than pagerank, it certainly contains more SEO orientated tools.
• SEO WikiPedia
The SEO WikiPedia page, contains some very good information, references and in depth detail all about SEO, how it works, how people do it, etc. Very useful for SEO newbies.