Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is straightforwardly the modification of your website to make it friendlier to Search Engines with the goal of increasing your page ranking from Organic Search. Unfortunately implementing SEO on a site is not as straightforward as Google and other Search Engines utilize proprietary algorithms that utilize hundreds of variables to rank your site. Although SEO is an important step needed be forewarned there is no silver bullet that will get you the #1 ranking and know also that fluffing your site with false content or doorways specifically for Search Engines can and will hurt your ranking and might even get you black listed.
Rule #1 : Create your site for your users and not for search engines.
No matter what anyone tells you your site needs to speak to your visitors with search engines an after thought. The premises are these if your content is not useful for your visitors as all it does is spit out generic keywords then a user is not going to stay on your site as their is no point. Create rich, unique, and useful content that users will want, by doing so you may not be seeding organic search on the short term but sites linking to your site will enhance your ranking over the long term. Seriously you built your site for a purpose make sure you meet your goals.
With that important fact out of the way lets move on to some of the basic SEO techniques.
- Page Title
The title of your page should be precise and informative. This tells the user where they are and what they can find on this page. It is good practice to keep your name in the title with the title of the page. For example if you are a website developer and your company is XYZ corp and your tag line is “The Website Experts” then a reasonable title for the main page could be “XYZ Corp : Thew Website Experts”. However once inside the site the title should be more specific to the content on the page, for example a contact page could be “Contact Us at XYZ Corp” or “XYZ Corp : Contact Us”.
<title>XYZ Corp: Portfolio of Short Films</title>
Keywords is debated as not being used by Search Engines due to their abuse by web sites. However it is a good practice to add keywords to your page as long as they are relevant to your content. The keywords meta tag gets placed in the head tag of your html.
<meta name="keywords" content="Search engine optimization"/>
The description meta tag is used to place a short description of the page. It is good practice to utilize keywords as part of your sentences inside this tag.
<meta name="description" content="Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips and Tricks">
- URL Structure
The url or the page is displayed in search results and possibly when users link to your site. Making the link user friendly also can notify Search Engines what content to expect on the page. For example if you are an online store and are selling antique lamps then a posible url for your products could be www.antiquecompany.com/products/lamps/Red_Floral_Shade_Lamp/ This provides the user with information on what they can find on the page instead of a url like www.antiquecompany.com/?cateogry=1&product=237 which tells the user nothing about what to expect on that page.
- Site Map
Having a site map for your website can provide users and search engines the ability to readily find pages in your site that is of interest to them. I highly, highly recommend that you utilize a separate page for this with a link of every page in a utility navigation (not the main nav), please do not add it to the bottom of every page as it just adds clutter to your site. A site map is a last resort for users to find content, your navigation should readily provide them access to content that they want, if users are repeatedly accessing the site map then you may want to reconsider the structure of your site.
Content is the most important element of your site. Regardless of the above if your site does not provide new, unique, compelling, and above all else useful content a visitor will not stay. A visitor to your website is there for a purpose and your site should provide the information they are looking for. If you simply regurgitate information without providing anything new or different then users will not revisit your site. When writing content keep in mind the keywords that users could be looking for and add those in to the content if appropriate. Do not force them in though having good content regardless of keywords will lead to visitors which could lead to links to your site and content increasing your ranking.
- Anchor Text
Anchor tags or a tags provide links to other sites. Utilize descriptive text instead of click here or similar general text so that users and search engines to understand what the page you are linking to is about.
- Heading Tags
Heading Tags or h1, h2 tags are meant to be used to specify the importance of content use them as such. Place titles in header tags so that users and search engines realize their importance.
Search Engines can not view images instead the utilize the image name and alt property to gather information on what the image is. Utilize short but descriptive names and place a description of the image in the alt tag as this will be displayed to users if the image can not be loaded.
- Anchor Text
Search Engine Optimization is a fickle topic, with each Search Engine utilizing their own algorithms and variables. The simplest and most often forgotten rule is simple build your site and write content for your users. As for the rest be wary of SEO professionals who guarantee results as there are numerous “black hat” methods used that can get your black listed and removed from results. Simply provide valuable and clear content following the basic guidelines is more than enough for most websites.