SEO in Ten Easy Steps

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SEO

SEO

SEO in Ten Easy Steps

If you are at all serious about succeeding online we highly recommend reading this guide.

Based on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, these ten fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization really do work.

1. XML Sitemap Submission

Technical Skill Requirement: None

Difficulty: Easy

Submitting a Sitemap is the best way of being sure search engines have information about your entire website.

XML Sitemaps have replaced the older technique of “submitting to search engines” by filling out a form on each search engine’s submission page. They are are the best, fastest and only guaranteed method of informing search engines about every page of your site.

Your “Get In Google” tool automates Sitemap creation and submission to each search engine. Updating and resubmitting your sitemap on a weekly basis will increase its effectiveness even more.

2. Building Links

Technical Skill Requirement: None

Difficulty: Ranges from Easy to Difficult

One of the most important elements (of the more than 200) that Google considers when ranking your site is the number and quality of links pointing to it. The general idea is that the more sites indicating that your content is valuable by linking to it, the better. As long as these links come from sites deemed to be of quality or authority (high search rank), the better your own search rank will be.

Be very careful about buying links! You can be penalized for participating in most link buying schemes, or having links from sites that Google has blocked, such as sites involved in link selling, sites with malware, or any other activity in violation of Google’s guidelines.

A common legitimate link building activity is directory submission. Submission can range from just your name and homepage URL to an extensive business profile. Always make sure any content you post to directories is unique, readable and human friendly. Never submit strings of comma-separated keywords or duplicate content that will be seen as spam.

It is always best to list your site only in the most important, authoritative and reputable directories. Avoid the “list your site in thousands of directories” offers. Most are a waste of time. Not all directories are equal, and many of the directories that some online services offer to post your site to are completely useless, or could even be on Google’s black list.

There are many other ways to quickly develop high quality links that work, including: professionally syndicated press releases, syndicated business listing services, submitting articles to or commenting on blogs and forums, starting your own blog, getting local government (.gov), educational (.edu), or business association links by working with those organizations, submitting product reviews and answers on sites like Yahoo! Answers and writing submissions in related forums and user groups.

Another important link building activities is participating in Social Networking activates such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

However, by far the best way to get quality links to your site is by writing good content. If it’s original, informative and interesting people will want to link to. If you haven’t got the skill or time necessary to write great keyword focused content and work to get it posted on important sites, check out our Top Listing Program. It’s an effective, low-cost alternative to trying to do it all yourself.

3. Learn a Little Simple Basic HTML

Technical Skill Requirement: Low

Difficulty: Low

HTML is a language used by web browsers to dynamically format web pages. Many important SEO techniques require only very simple edits to your site’s HTML code. Knowing what to change and how to adjust your HTML code has a huge effect on your SEO and search listings. Don’t worry; learning the basics of simple HTML is not difficult. (However, if you are using a web designer or outside web developer to implement these simple changes to your site, keep in mind that they are just that: simple. They should not take too long to complete once you know how to tell them exactly what to do.)

W3School’s free tutorials are all you need: ( http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp )

4. Choose the Right Keywords or Key-Phrases to Target

Technical Skill Requirement: None

Difficulty: Easy

Choose two or three highly targeted keywords or key phrases for each page of your site, including your Home Page. (In the next step you will learn how to produce the content of your site based on them)

Choose very carefully because keywords you think might be perfect may not be what people actually search for. For example, never use general keywords such as “travel” or “vacation.” Very large, well-known sites usually rank the highest for general words such as these, and are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to out-rank in search listings for these words. You will enjoy much better results by targeting less competitive, more specific and narrowly targeted keywords or phrases.

The Best Keyword Research Tools Are Free!
Google’s two free keyword tools listed below are a great way to discover keywords that may be worth targeting in your content.

Google’s Adwords-Based Keyword Research Tool.

Google’s “Insights” Traffic-Based Keyword Research Tool.

5. Create Fresh and Unique Content Using Your Keywords

Technical Skill Requirement: None

Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Publishing keyword-rich original content is absolutely crucial to ranking highly. All you need to do is transform your list of carefully selected keywords into pages of unique web content. Write pages of at least 200 words of unique text, incorporating one, two, or at the most three of your chosen keywords into the copy of each page. Your home page may have less content, but should target your most important two or three keywords.

What does unique text mean? It means that you produce original content. It means you haven’t simply copied verbatim from other websites or blogs. If you don’t have enough of your own ideas about content look at what other have written, then re-write it making it better. You can make it shorter and more concise, or longer and more detailed. Just don’t copy it.

Search engines must find and “read” keyword rich copy on your pages so they can properly classify or “index” your site. The frequency (or density) of keyword usage is also important. For best results repeat each keyword or phrase, or variations of the phrase, 2 to 4 times within your copy (depending on its length). Be sure to put it at least once in a headline using the H1 or H2 HTML code. More is not better. A higher keyword density than this can often cause search engines to penalizing your site. Never use “invisible text” or text on your Web pages that is the same color as the background. It will also result in search engine penalties.
Placing keywords on your website:

Your website content should be written first for real people, and second for search engine crawlers. For your website to be successful you need to keep both in mind. Keywords are important for both audiences. They help real people skim your page, and help the search engines figure out what your page is about.

Writing marketing copy for your website doesn’t need to be difficult and it surely doesn’t need to be lengthy. In fact, keep three simple things in mind, along with your keywords, and it’ll practically write itself: Benefits, Benefits, Benefits!

Don’t just tell the customer you have a great widget at a great price. Tell them what that widget will do to make their lives better, easier, safer, more important. If it saves them time, improves results, etc. – tell them that, and briefly tell them how. Show then the Benefits, not the “features.”

Always tell the truth. You can say anything ,but if its intentionally misleading, your profits and your business are going to be short-lived. Make your website copy sizzle, and make it sell, but always make it honest.

Make it personal: all about You and Your. It might not seem like much, but if you can drop ?your? into your copy, it?s sure to draw the customer in, whether they realize it or not.

Before you put up new content on your site, read it and then read it again out loud. If you can, have someone else look it over. There?s nothing worse publishing great copy that?s tarnished by typos.

Nine good places to use your keywords:

1. In your page title. This is what appears at the top of the browser window when someone visits your website. (See step 8 below)

2. In your page description. Visitors don’t see this, but the search engines do. This is the two lines of text that appear below the main title in search engine results. (See step 9 below)

3. In your page URL. Use keywords, not strings of alphanumeric characters, in the URLs of each page of your site. Search engines will index them much better and display them higher in search results. Creating page URLs with keywords helps those pages rank higher. Simply insert the linked-to page’s targeted keyword phrase into the hyperlink whenever possible. Here is a good example from Allrecipes.com: Allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fettuccini-with-Salsa-Cruda-and-Feta/Detail.aspx

4. In the headings and subheadings. Make it easy for your readers to very quickly see what your page is about by using lots of headings and subheadings.

5. In the first sentence and your first paragraph. Make sure your important keywords appear first — the earlier, the better.

6. In the last paragraph. Also use your keywords at the end of your content.

7. Elsewhere in the page copy. When keywords fall naturally throughout your article, consider bolding them. But don’t go overboard with it or it will become a distraction. However, if it makes the article easier to skim, bold your keywords.

8. In your text links. Instead of linking to words like “click here,” use your keywords in your link anchor text.

9. In the ALT tags on images. The search engines can’t understand images. With every image, include a bit of text called the ALT tag and use your keywords in that text. (See step 10 below)

6. Title Tag Optimization

Technical Skill Requirement: Low

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

HTML title tags are critical because search engines use them when deciding what a web page is about. Using descriptive words and phrases in your Title tags helps both people and search engines better understand the focus of the page. Include your most important keywords in this tag. Space is limited (use a maximum of 69 total characters) so don’t include your company name. Do not use the Title tag to display irrelevant information such as “Home Page.” Think of it more as a “Title Keyword Tag” and include words that users would likely search for to find the product or service or other information on that page.

Lengths of Page Title (taken from your Title Tag) Displayed in Search Engines (including spaces):
Google displays up to 69 characters, Yahoo displays up to 72 characters, Bing displays up to 69 characters

The Title tag is the most important tag to optimize on your webpage because:
•Search engines place a lot of importance on the words used in the title tag when determining your page ranking and keyword indexing.
•They are used as the title for your search engine results listings, giving a critical “first impression” to search engine users.
•They are used as the bookmark heading when someone bookmarks a page in your site.

Good Title Tags Made Simple

Here’s a simple method for writing title tags that will boost your rankings:
•Start the title with the top keyword or phrase for which you are trying to get high rankings. Be sure that the keyword is well used on your webpage so the Title Tag is clearly relevant to the page as a whole.
•Insert a hyphen or double-colon to separate the initial keyword from what comes next to help make the title more readable.
•Then describe the webpage in five words or less while using all or part of your target keyword or phrase again.

7. Description Tag Optimization

Technical Skill Requirement: Low

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

The Meta Description Tag is the next most important tag, since search engines frequently use it as the description for your page’s listing. The content in your description tags often appears as the “snippets” of text underneath the blue Title tag headline in search results pages. A well written description tag increases the chance that your search listing will be clicked on.

Here is an example: a keyword search for “big mac” produces the following result as the third organic listings:

By visiting the McDonalds.com home page and viewing the page source, you can see that the snippet above simply reuses the first 149 characters of the page’s meta description:

Here is what you should do to optimize your description tags:
•Create a unique meta description tag for each page that uses its keywords.
•Create “meaty” description tags that accurately describe the page and product to search users and respect the character limits noted below.
•Include words that users would most likely search for to find the product, service or information on that page.

Meta Description Lengths Displayed in Search Engines (including spaces) Google displays up to 156 characters Yahoo displays up to 161 characters Bing displays up to 185 characters

Good Description Tags Made Simple Begin the description tag with the same keyword phrase you used in the title tag, followed by a dash or double colon. Then use it to start a sentence describing your webpage in 10 to 15 words.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when writing description tags: •The entire tag should be no longer than 22 words (156 characters).
•It should briefly describe the webpage and entice users to click on your listing.
•The keyword should be used no more than two times in total.

Here’s a simple layout for writing description tags that will boost your rankings:

[Your Keyword or Key Phrase] – [A Brief Description of Page]

If you only have a little time to optimize your site for better search engine rankings, at least write good Title and Description tags. They are a fundamental requirement for improved search ranking.

Note: The Keyword meta tag is not given ANY consideration at all by Google or the other major search engines and should not be used.

8. Take Advantage of Other Simple HTML Opportunities

Technical Skill Requirement: Low

Difficulty: Easy

Don’t overlook other HTML code elements to extract a little more love from the search engines. You can boost your rankings and nudge visitors along your “buy path” by providing more information in your HTML code. Here are some of the ways you can easily boost your search engine rankings:

Use text headings tags
H3 to briefly describe the topic of the section of a page it introduces. The use of text “heading” tags is important to the user as visual clues, but they are also used to indicate the importance of the words or phrases to the search engines. It allows search engines to make better sense of the words and phrases on the page in a way that changes in font size doesn’t. Some sites don’t use them because they don’t like the way they look, but heading tags can easily be made to look any way you like by including them in your style sheets.

Use Inter-site “anchor text” links Creating keyword-rich internal text links within your site will also help. Use this tactic in moderation as too many links between your pages can actually harm you. Testing has shown good results by creating links between the first 10 pages that you will find listed in.

Google’s results when you search for site:www.mydomain.com (simple add “site:” to your home page URL, all as one word, and search for that “combined” word in Google)

Use Image Alt Tags Alt tags (Alternative Text Tags) were developed so that if an image is unavailable, you can still see an alternative text description of it.

However, alt tags are also an additional type of content, in which you can display information to visitors and search engines by using the alt and title attributes.
Note that search engines will index the both the alt and title content, but usually prefer the title content if available.

9. Eliminate Broken Links and Error pages

Technical Skill Requirement: Low

Difficulty: Easy

Broken links that produce “Page Not Found” error messages are harmful to your site. They reduce search engine crawling efficiency and accuracy, meaning that some of your content may not be listed (or indexed) in search engine databases. They also “dilute” your site’s overall search engine rank. Plus, they are one of the easiest ways to lose potential customers. Broken links and error messages create a highly negative and unprofessional impression to visitors, frequently causing them to leave and not return.

We strongly recommend regularly checking your entire site for error pages. Your SEO Tools account includes a broken links report and tool that helps find both the error page URL and all the links to it within your site. Use the tool to remove all internal links to error pages, and then use the solutions below for any possible external links to them.

Create a Custom 404 Error Page A good 404 error page advises visitors that they’ve hit an invalid URL, and then provides other links to direct help them to their intended destination.

Use 301 Redirects If you move or rename pages, use 301 redirects to automatically transfer them from the old page location to its new permanent home. This redirect is anonymous to your site visitor.

If you can’t implement custom 404 pages or 301 redirects, contact your web developer for assistance.

10. Develop (or Exercise) Patience

Technical Skill Requirement: None

Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t expect quick results. Using these simple techniques will indeed deliver more traffic from Google and other search engines, but it takes a little time. There’s no getting around that fact. Once you start following the steps above, your site’s ranking will slowly but surely rise. While you should start seeing results within weeks, big improvements usually requires a little more time and effort. However, these efforts ALWAYS pay off

Take the time to keep implementing the Google Guidelines. Google rewards sites that meet their guidelines with higher placement in search results, and more search traffic.

Thankfully, all of these steps are easy to implement with little or no technical skill, so what are you waiting for? Get cracking!

Dan
Dan
After helping some friends get their newly established businesses noticed through Facebook and doing well, Dan decided to start Huxo Digital Media in July 2013. Branching out into website design and graphic design, the small team have developed a reputation to be proud of. We have developed our awesome social media management dashboard and received national recognition as a Top 10 UK Social Media Influencer. Dan is a father of two, a big fan of rugby, a lover of fine coffee and has been building and developing websites for over fourteen years.

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