Despite the many articles, blogs, and books written on the topic, there are really only three main areas of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)–and I can explain them all in just 7 minutes!
1. Structure – the web language used, navigation, and rich media all have an impact on whether the search engines are able to crawl and understand the theme of your web site.
2. Content – search engine spiders are really quite dumb. Your web content needs to match-up with the user’s query or your site won’t be found.
3. Links – the search engines look at the quantity, quality, and relevance of the links pointing to a web site.
This outline is designed for the person that wants to cut to the chase. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t have time to spend hours a day learning SEO, this guide is for you.
For those of you seeking a more in-depth introduction to search engine optimization basics consider reading these guides:
.: Search engine friendly site structure
1. Make sure that your site is returning a “200 OK” code to the search engines. This is the standard response that informs Google that your site is OK to crawl. If you change the location of any page, use a “301” permanent re-direct to instruct Google’s crawler to spider the new location of the page. You can check the response from any of your pages using: http://www.rexswain.com/httpview.html
2. Avoid using lots of images or FLASH content, as these are virtually invisible to the search engines. Any text contained within an image or FLASH file is typically not as valuable as “real” text that is normally displayed on a web page.
5. Avoid displaying multiple pages with the exact same content, as Google will likely filter out all duplicates from its search results. If you have more than one page with the same text, consider changing it so that the text is unique to each page.
6. Make sure your web site is hosted on a reliable server, preferably on an IP address that is not shared with any other web site. If you’re trying to target visitors from a specific country, consider using a country specific domain name—such as .co.uk—and ensure the registration information is matched to an address in that country.
.: On-page search engine optimization
1. Do you know what your potential visitors are searching on Google? Avoid using industry “jargon” and also consider building pages that talk about your potential visitor’s needs—not just your solutions.
3. Once you have determined which keywords best represent your web site, target these keywords on your web pages. It’s important to focus on different keywords for each page. Google understands that each page of your site is different, and including keywords targeted to each page, will help each individual page “rank” in Google’s search results.
4. There are four core areas where you should ensure you are using your targeted keywords.
i. The <TITLE> tag of each page.
ii. The name of the page file. While you should avoid re-naming any existing pages, you should pay attention to the naming of any new pages. For example; instead of using the page name “ourproducts.html” use the more descriptive “computer-desktops.html”
iii. Each page should have an <H1> heading to help Google understand the main focus of the page. It should be short and include the keywords you’ve identified.
iv. As already mentioned, Google cannot index images—or text in images—so it is important to include 250+ words of text on any page you wish to see “rank” in Google. For each 250 words of text, try to include 2-3 mentions of the keyword you are targeting for that page.
.: Linking strategies
1. Each link to your site from another site is a “vote” for your web page to rank higher in Google’s search results.
2. Obtain links from business partners, suppliers, clients, industry blogs, and news media. The link should preferably use “anchor text” that includes the keywords you are hoping your web page will rank for in Google. For example; instead of a link back to your site that says “Click Here” more beneficial would be a link that includes the text “Desktop Computers” (or your targeted keyword).
3. The same goes for the way you link from one of your pages to another—your internal links. Use keywords in your anchor text and avoid using links in images or ambiguous anchor text such as “click here” or “read more.”
That’s all there is to it!
So, seriously, what you’ve just read is about 90% of all SEO strategies. Of course, that other 10% could be the difference between #1 on Google and #50,–and the actual implementation takes a lot more time and finesse. However, if you’ve yet to implement any SEO on your web site, the seven minutes you just invested will save you months of headaches.