Basics of SEO for Website Optimization
Search engines have one primary objective… to provide their searchers the most accurate and useful results for each particular search query. Without satisfied searchers a search engine will ultimately cease to exist. Make sure each page of your website accurately reflects its topic by tactfully utilizing keywords.
Below I address the most essential components of optimizing your website for the organic (non PPC) search results. No doubt there are a myriad of attributes the search engines consider when ranking sites. But starting with these basics is a great start and a foundation that can be built upon.
It’s important to know that on-page criteria (the changes you make “on/to” your website) is pretty much half the battle. Search engines also consider off-page criteria (links coming to your website) when determining rankings… but that will be discussed another day. The following are some of the areas of a website search engines look for mention of keywords.
1. Body Text – This includes the readable copy of your website. Keywords found in body text should also appear in your title and meta tags. Remember to choose relevant keyword phrases and stay away from the hugely competitive one word keywords. This way you really hone in on your target market while reducing competition for top rankings.
2. Title Tags – The search engines consider the title tag extremely important when determining how relevant a site is when a particular keyword is searched. From a searchers perspective, the title tag is the link that goes from a search engine’s result page, to the actual website. Once at a website, the title tag may only be seen at the very top of the browser or as the label of an open tab. Each web page of your site should have a unique title tag that reinforces the body text of your site.
3. Meta Tags – There are two main “meta tags” important for SEO purposes… the description and keywords meta tags. The description tag is used by most search engines to understand better the subject of the page and sometimes to provide a short description of your site within the search results (appears just below the title tag information).
The keywords meta tag should be used to “reinforce” keywords present on your web page, not to introduce new ones. The keywords tag is not a magical solution for achieving rankings and only a few major search engines currently support this tag (Bing is suspected of beginning to recognize this tag again); However, it’s recommended to have this tag in place for those engines that do consider it.
4. Link Text – Using descriptive hyperlinks leading to other pages of your site within the text of any web page will help a visitor navigate your site more easily. Utilizing keyword phrases as “link text” will also give the search engines great information to better understand what the site is about. Don’t link “click here”, link “My Important Keyword Phrase”.
5. Alt Tags – The purpose of an ALT tag (“alternative text”) is to describe the content of a picture that hasn’t loaded yet. This is normally for the benefit of web surfers who surf with the images turned off. However, if you insert your keyword phrase(s) (around 2-5+/- words) in your ALT tag rather than describing the graphic, or do both, you may have a boost in relevancy with many of the engines.
6. Page (File) Names – The name of a page also plays a roll in adding relevance to particular search terms. For example for a law website, a subpage on the site may be named page34.html. This page can be renamed to attorney.html or law-office.html or any name with a keyword (phrase).
7. URL (Web Address) – The name of your web address (URL) can help give the search engines more information about the content of your site. A great URL can help your rankings, but ultimately it’s going to come down to your site’s overall content and page specific content to help make the site keyword relevant.
8. External Links – Link popularity is determined by how many sites link TO your site. The more RELEVANT and POPULAR sites that link to yours, the greater your link popularity. The best links TO your site would be from sites that are in your industry and related to your field.