SEO 101 – 6 Tips for Optimizing Your Web Site’s Search Engine Visibility

seo

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is a bit of a black art.  One of the reasons for this is that there is not one simple algorithm or set of steps that each and every site owner can implement in order to increase their visibility or pagerank.  In this article, I’ll talk about some of the common sense, simple steps a web publisher can take to increase their visibility on the major search engines.

Tip #1 – Optimize Your Content

Google’s pagerank is based on hundreds of attributes including analysis of your site content.  Let’s start with some of the more obvious content elements:

Meta Tags

Meta tags are tags placed in the HEAD section of your web site’s pages.  Meta tags allow you to provide additional description elements for your site. You absolutely MUST provide the following Meta Tags if you want to increase your site’s visibility.

  • Description – provide a keyword rich description of your web site – obviously mentioning attributes of your product or service.
  • Keywords – A comma separated list of keywords associated with your site.  Use caution – DO NOT repeat keywords many times.  This is a mistake made by many SEO rookies and can lead to a lower pagerank.
  • Title – not technical a meta tag – but just as important, the title tag provides another opportunity to link your site to your primary target market.

Content Titles

Including the title tag in your page’s content is important. However, just as important is the actual content of the title tag. Obviously, ensure that the title is descriptive but also wherever possible make sure that the titles reference a keyword or something related to your primary content goal.

Tip #2 – Use Alt Tags in Your Image Tags

Alt tags are referenced by search engines during indexing.  The relevance of your site to your keywords of choice can be dramatically enhanced by loading your Alt tags up with keyword rich descriptions.

Example:

[source language=”html”]

<img alt=’search engine optimization’ src=/images/seo.png>

[/source]

Tip #3 – Be older

A sad fact is that if you’re domain name has been registered for less than one year, you’re not likely to get premium page ranking. Not to fear, you’ll simply need to leverage the remainder of these tips to increaser your visibility.

Tip #4 – Be faster

Google penalizes slower performing sites and sites with high initial page load times by giving them lower page ranks. To ensure that you’re site is snappy, make sure you’re optimizing your image sizes, combining and minimizing your javascript components and using a content distribution network where possible. CDN’s can be very expensive, but if you’re site has national or global appeal and you want to optimize your visibility, you may want to look into a CDN such as Akamai or Limelight. CDN’s are less important if you’re target market is more on the local scale.

Tip #5 – Increase Your Visibility by Increasing Links to Your Site

Yes, it is true that Google will rank your site higher if more sites link to your site – but even more important thank the number of sites linking to you is the pagerank of those sites that link to you.

Consider this example… You create a new site and then create fifteen other new domains and sites that simply link to your new site. You submit your sites to google and google indexes all of the sites. The value of each of the links to your site from your new link farm is minimal because the age and page rank of all of these sites is near zero.

Now consider another example… You create your new site. Then, you create a blogger.com, ezinearticles, tumblr, posterous, squidoo accounts and publish many articles all with a single link in the signature linking back to your primary site. Google ranks ezinearticles highly because of the diversity and consistency of it’s content. Therefore, you’re going to get higher credit for that single link that you would for all of the links you created in your newly established link farm.

To get started, create a free WordPress account. Be sure to try and get a wordpress blog name that reflects something similar to your primary site – or content. This will provide you with a free, easy to your blog on the WordPress domain – for example: mlynn.wordpress.com. Next, carefully craft an article on your blog that speaks to your primary site’s mission, content or target market. Be sure to include a link back to your primary site.

Start slow and do this with WordPress and possibly one other blog site. Be sure that you’re providing good quality content. Here are some sites to consider:

Tip #6 – Know Thy Enemy

Review your competitor’s sites. Evaluate their SEO success or failure. One tool I use to do this is the Chrome SEO Extension. Review the meta keywords and description tags of your competitors to make sure you’re not missing something. Do this on a regular basis to ensure that you’re keeping your meta tags up to date and in line with your target market.

Bonus Tip – Optimize Your Visibility Through Social Media

The increase in popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can’t be ignored. You’re not likely to get through a day without someone making reference to something they saw or some content that was linked to from facebook or twitter. Today’s savvy business owner must learn to leverage this powerful medium. However, a word of caution. Bad social media practice or improperly executed use of social media can be very damaging for your business reputation – so wade carefully in this new media stream.

Don’t hammer twitter with repetitive links to your site. This is annoying and people will show their disgust by unfollowing you, or even worse, commenting negatively. Again, start slow. Learning how to use twitter can take time – but will be well worth your effort. Once you sign up – use the “interest browser” to find other tweeters with similar businesses or interests. Watch their posts and where appropriate “retweet” their posts. Over time, others will find you and begin to follow your tweets.

A couple interesting usage tips for twitter: You’ll see a couple symbols in tweets – namely, “@” and “#”. The ampersand indicates a reference to another tweeter. For example, I’m @mlynn on twitter. The hash or pound sign is a reference to a tag or a subject on twitter. These can also be used by sites to determine inclusion of the post on other sites. For example, I’m using Linkedin for my professional profile and contacts. I’ve configured twitter and linked in such that when I include the hash sign “#in”, my tweet will be logged as my linkedin status.