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SEO 101: The Basics

Computer screen

Computer screen

If you have a website, you need it to rank high in the search engines.  If your site ranks high with Google and Yahoo it means you have lots of traffic coming to your site, and more sales or advertising revenue.

Think first of the phrase you want to rank well for; if there are only a few other sites using that phrase, it is relatively simple getting good placement with the search engines.  The trick is to be sure the exact phrase you want to rank for is in the <title></title> tag and in at least one other area on that page.   Not everyone catches on to this simple tip, and in fact many times when looking at someone’s page the keyword phrase is not included anywhere.  Be sure to include your phrase on your page, and also make sure it’s not included in a graphic of any kind- such as a logo.  Google does not read graphics and doesn’t know what words are contained in any graphics included.  Be sure to change the <title> tags on your page as well; you don’t want it just to say “Home” unless “Home” is your keyword phrase.

For more competitive phrases, you’re going to have to do considerably more work.  Here are some things that will help raise your rankings:

  • Write a distinct <Title></Title> tag for every page, precisely describing that page.  Your title should be relatively short and definitely not more than eight to ten words.
  • Add content, and pages, regularly. Shoot for two new pages a week to keep the content fresh. One page each week is okay, two is great, any less than that are you are not helping yourself.
  • New pages should be compelling, unique, and a source of reliable information. If you want your site to rank high for alcoholic beverage recipes, then make it the absolute best resource for drink recipes out there on the web.
  • Be sure to make your pages available through normal <A HREF> links.  Don’t use Flash links or JavaScript only
  • Link to good quality sites which have content that is relevant to the readers of your site.  Ask, nicely, for a reciprocal link, but don’t demand it.
  • Make your website design as user-friendly as possible. It should look good, give great information, and not have any annoying little ticks.
  • Stop trying to trick the search engines into ranking you high.  If you build informative, high quality pages for visitors the rankings will naturally rise and stay that way.  Focus on quality and bringing the readers of your page excellent, compelling content.  Ultimately, your rankings and the money will follow.  Your site will not rank well if you don’t spend the time it takes to build a quality site; tricks might work temporarily but will not last.  Make sure that your site is better than all of your competition and eventually it will rank number one.  Google’s secret algorithm, which defines how sites are ranked, is a rapidly moving target.  Some tricksters think they can get shallow and shabby sites to rank high, and often they can on a short-term basis.  Google quickly figures these games out and weeds out the bad sites from the top rankings- after all; it’s their reputation on the line.

What constitutes a “quality” page to a search engine?  The same kind of things we look for: relevance to what we are looking for and the page is an authority on its topic.   If you do a search for types of bananas and get results for pages that sell jewelry—how happy will you be?  Likewise, if you do find a page about types of bananas, but the content doesn’t really tell you much- how useful is it?  Useful information is imperative!  Hopefully, your banana page will also be part of a larger site with lots of information about related items- maybe other fruits in this example.  It also is helpful if the page has been around for some time, loads quickly, and is free of broken links and cheap keywords.

Another article that might be of interest: Search Engine Optimization: The Weakest Link for Most Web Sites