Search engine optimization, or SEO as it is commonly known, can be quite complex. However, it can also make the difference between success and failure for a business website or online marketer. Following is an overview of how search engine optimization works, what to do and what not to do, as well as important internet marketing tips that a person will want to be aware of.
On Page SEO
On page SEO means creating a website with optimization that has the right keywords. There are numerous generation tools that a person can use to come up with a phrase and word options, see how many search queries a particular phrase gets and how much competition there is for any given keyword on Adsense. I highly recommend that a webmaster use a free keyword generation tool to choose the right words or phrases to optimize the website for.
After a person has chosen a primary keyword and a few good secondary keywords for their website, it is time to put these words and phrases in the right location by beginning the design and optimization process. The website optimization, design, and page URLs are very important and should contain the main word/phrase, if at all possible. Other keywords can be used in title tags, H1 tags, and Meta tags, as well as in website text. A website design is not just about the looks but also the wording and the proper optimization techniques.
Off Page SEO
Off page SEO involves getting good links to the website, which is something that is much easier said than done. Google has recently introduced various search algorithm updates to combat spammy websites with tens of thousands of spammy links; the company promises more such updates in the near future. A webmaster needs to be careful when building site links and make sure that these only come from highly rated, quality websites that are relevant.
Many SEO experts have advocated and optimization approach to quantity over quality when it comes to links. This approach is outdated; links from questionable websites will lower a site’s ranking and they are next to impossible to get rid of. Optimization strategies and linking must be done very carefully but it should be done nonetheless. Following are some ways in which a person can go about getting quality links:
- Find a relevant blog with a high PageRank. Leave an insightful comment with the website’s URL.
- Design original articles for article websites. Include the targeted keywords and the website’s URL at the end. How-to articles are best; eHow is one of the few article websites that did not take a hit when Google updated its search algorithms.
- Design and film a relevant video and post it on YouTube. Put the website URL at the bottom of the film and be sure to use a targeted keyword in the title. YouTube is owned by Google and so they automatically give relevant videos higher ratings that many relevant websites. There is a slightly different design approach to video optimization.
Social media has dramatically changed search engine optimization. Internet marketing is not really viable these days unless a website or company also uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Depending on the nature of the website and the products or services it offers, using Foursquare and LinkedIn may also be necessary. Google’s own social website, Google+, is also a good idea as they have clearly stated that it will factor in its own social media website when assigning PageRank and determining search engine results. This means that a page with a high number of “+1’s” will get a higher rankings than a similar page that does not use this button.
Needless to say, all social media buttons should be put on each page of a website. These buttons allow visitors to quickly recommend, like or email a post. These natural social media links are very important because they show the search engine that numerous people like the post and consider it relevant. Search engines take this into account when determining PageRank.
Local companies will want to concentrate more on local SEO than general SEO. Local SEO means getting high PageRank for local search engine results. Such results often include the name of the city or state where a company is located and so the state and/or city name should be used on the website itself.
A webmaster who wants a high local PageRank should sign up for Google Places. This program notes the exact location of the business, making it easy for customers to find the company locale. It also boasts a site’s PageRank for local search engine results. Signing up for local online directories is also highly advisable. Most of these directories offer free signup.
SEO to Avoid
Not all forms of SEO are good. There are some forms of SEO, commonly known as “black hat SEO” that a person will want to avoid at all costs. Bad SEO will get a site’s PageRank lowered; in serious cases, it can even get it deindexed and kicked off of Google’s search engine listings altogether.
Bad SEO strategies include:
- Sending the same article to numerous article websites. Search engines do not like duplicate content.
- Copying and pasting an article from a highly rated; relevant website. It will be tagged as spam and lower a site’s rating.
- Using any given keyword too many times in an article on the website. Generally speaking, a one to two percent keyword density is enough (in other words, use the keyword only once or twice in every 100 words).
- A variance of the above strategy is to put the keyword numerous times in the header or footer of the website, but make it the same color as the site’s background color so that only search engines will see it. Once again, this is a bad idea. Search engine algorithms can detect high keyword density and tag it as spam.
SEO is not the only form of internet marketing. PPC Ads, sending out mass emails and social media campaigns are also good ways to get more potential customers to a company website or online retail site. However, it should be noted that SEO accounts for most website growth; in fact, a recent survey noted that 80% of users pay little or no attention to the sponsored search engine results, aka ads, listed on the top of any search engine query.
SEO is not a task that can be completed on a one-time basis. The internet is changing at a fast clip and advice that is valid today may not be valid in the coming months and years. Keywords that are popular today may not be popular later on. A wise webmaster will want to stay abreast of search engine algorithm updates, SEO trends, popular trends related to his or her field and other information that can enable a person to update his or her site so that it gets and retains a high PageRank. One other note that I’d like to make is that the website design is crucial. A great website search engine optimization plan is useless if the website has a poor design an people leave without acting or buying. At times, the design aspect of a website is sometimes lost due to the heavy emphasis on ranking. Don’t forget to have a critical eye towards the website design in addition to your search engine optimization viewpoint.
Great input, directly from the folks at Google: