Here are my Top 20 SEO Tips & Tricks

Why do you need them?  Because, without SEO, although your website will probably be found by the search engines, it won’t be seen by searchers.

Let me explain why, and what you can do about it.

Whenever you enter a query in a search engine and hit ‘enter’ you get a list of web results (SERPs), which contain that query term.

Most users tend to visit only websites that are at the top of this list as they perceive those to be more relevant to the query.

If you have ever wondered why some of these websites rank better than the others then you need to know that its because of a powerful web marketing technique called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is a technique which helps search engines find and rank your site higher than the millions of other sites in response to a search query. So SEO done well helps you get traffic from search engines.

This SEO tutorial covers my top 20 SEO Tips & Tricks plus the necessary information you need to know about Search Engine Optimisation – what is it, how it works and what you need to do to get the best ranking in major search engines.

My Top 20 SEO Tips & Tricks

1. What is SEO, and how Search Engines work

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

Search engines do not automatically recognize and display your site information. They must “index” your site first, which involves finding it and recording it in their archive. SEO techniques are aimed at letting search engines “know” your website is out there and what your site is “about”.

When someone uses a search engine, they enter a “keyword phrase”. The search engine then uses a complex algorithm to query their archive for webpages with this keyword phrase. The search engine presents these webpages on the “Search Engine Results Page” (SERP).

SEO is the process of creating your site so that the search engines can index it properly, and making your web site come up as high as possible on the SERPs for the keyword phrases you are targeting.

PLEASE NOTE: Google is still the primary search engine for most people – by far the largest and most efficient as we’ll see. This article uses “Google” synonymously with “search engine”. The SEO techniques here will improve your site presence in Google and all other search engines.

2. HTML: Get to know it!

The most important concept to understand in SEO is to understand how Hyper-Text Mark-up Language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML) works. HTML tags are the building blocks of your website. Web browsers use your site’s HTML to create the visual “web page” that you see when you access your website through the web browser.

IMPORTANT: For your website to be optimized for the search engines, your website content must use the appropriate HTML tags.

3. Learn how to view the source code of your website!

In order to know if the HTML of your website is optimized for the search engine you must know how to examine your web pages. The easiest way to do this is to “View Source”. This is a function built into all web browsers that lets you look at the raw HTML source code of any web page.

To view source in Google Chrome, right click on any page and select “view page source”, or simply press CTRL+“U”.

How to view source in Internet Explorer 9:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5cx5bbKOoQ

How to view source code in Firefox: http://www.ehow.com/how_2033394_view-page-source.html

Keywords: What they are, why they matter, and how to figure out the best ones

4. Keywords vs. Keyword Phrases

Keywords are the search words that you want your website to rank highly for. They are what your target market will use when they conduct a search. Keyword phrases are two or more keywords put together. In general, target keyword phrases, not single keywords. For example, if you are selling cat toys, targeting the keyword “cats” is not going to help your rankings but targeting “cat toys” will. In general, the more specific a keyword phrase, the easier it will be able to “rank” your website.

5. How do you know what keywords people are already using to find you?

If you have an existing website, chances are you are already generating traffic from search engines. It is important to find out what keyword phrases are already working for your site so that you can capitalize on them.

To discover your keyword phrases and to monitor your website traffic statistics, I recommend Google Analytics. It is a powerful set of tools that will show you statistics on keyword phrases used by visitors to find your site. To sign up for Google Analytics, go to http://www.google.com/analytics/and sign up for a free account. Afterwards, you will need to create a profile for your website and upload tracking code on all your web pages.

Also, many web hosts have built in tracking programs that give simple website usage statistics. Often they provide something like the “Webalizer” tracking tool for all their customers. Using these tools you can get an idea of what your traffic was like in the past and what keyword phrases were being used.

6. How do you find the best keyword phrases for your website?

You want to target keyword phrases that your target market is using. The Google Keywords Tool is the best free tool for finding the most appropriate keyword phrases to target.

The tool:

  • Allows you to enter keywords that you think may be being used by your target market, and then displays how many users actually used that keyword phrases.
  • Generates a list of similar keyword phrases to give you an idea of the popularity of other keyword combination
  • Provides the general competitiveness for each keyword phrase. In general, the more monthly searches a keyword phrase has and the less competition it has, the better it is for you to target.

The Google Keywords research tool is a great way to discover keyword phrases that you may have missed. However, note that Google hides its algorithm and it is unlikely that the numbers provided are 100% accurate. Use the relative difference between the popularity of each keyword phrase as a guide.

You also may want to target keyword phrases that do not get a lot of traffic and have little competition. Targeting these “long-tail” keyword phrases can be very effective. If you build pages to target these phrases, you can bring in a significant amount of search engine traffic relatively easily, due to lack of competition.

7. Google Operators: Another way to find out what keywords your competitors are targeting and which ones are the best for your site.

Google operators are special commands that you can enter into Google to find specific data about web pages. The Google “allintitle:” operator is a great way to find out how competitive a keyword phrase is.

The “allintitle:” operator will show you how many web pages include a given keyword phrase in their HTML title tags. As discussed, the HTML title tag is the most important piece of text in your web page from an SEO perspective. Therefore, if you know how many other webpages are targeting that keyword phrase in their HTML title tags, then you will have a sense of how many other sites you are competing with.

For example “allintitle: cat toys” will get about about 617,000 results.  That means that about 617,000 web pages have this keyword phrase in the title. Typing “allintitle: eco-friendly cat toys” tells us only 10 web pages contain that keyword phrase in their HTML title tags. That means that there is much less competition for the keyword phrase “eco-friendly cat toys” than  “cat toys” and that it will be much easier to get your website ranked on the first page of Google for that phrase. Of course, there are far fewer people searching for “eco-friendly cat toys” than for “cat toys”, but there are also 616,990 fewer competitors. A goal of good SEO is to target keyword phrases that are in use but have low competition, and the “allintitle:” operator helps you do just that.

For a full list of Google operators go here http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html.

8. Keep your keyword phrases specific for each page.

Use a specific keyword phrase on each web page that you are optimizing. For example, a website selling cat toys would benefit from having a specific page targeting the keyword phrase “eco-friendly cat toys” as well as specific pages targeting other types of cat toys.

9. Keyword Density:

This concept refers to the frequency that a keyword appears relative to other words on the page. Most people agree that a keyword density of about 2% is optimal. It is important to include keywords in both HTML and copy.

HTML: Deciphering the simple code to maximize your keyword effectiveness

10. < title > tag

The title tag is the single most important HTML tag on your web page. It is located in the < head > area at the top of your web page, but is invisible from your web browser. Google uses the < title > tag to define what your web page is about. The tag should contain the most important keyword phrase you are targeting. [Tips 8-14 will cover how to figure out your SEO keywords.]

If you do not have a properly written tag you will never place well on the SERPs for the keyword phrases you want.

  • The < title > should contain the main keywords that your web page is targeting.
  • It should NOT be a general phrase.
  • The more specific, the better.
  • The keyword phrase(s) in the < title > tag MUST be used within the text of your web page itself.

Please note, if you are using a blogging tool like WordPress or a content management system (CMS) like Joomla, you may not have absolute control over the <title> tags on your website unless you install a special plugin or extension.

11. <META NAME = “Description”> tag

This tag is every important for your website’s home page. Like the tag, it is located in the area of your web page and is invisible to web browsers. The meta-description tag should contain a paragraph that summarizes your website and includes important keyword phrases.

Example of a good meta description

<META NAME=”Description” content=”Joe’s pet supply store. Specializing in dog toys, dog bones, and leashes. Located in Richmond, Virginia. “/>

(Notice the keyword phrase includes the main products the store sells as well as the geographic location.)

12. h1  h2  and h3 tags

The “Header” tags are tags that are used to wrap the headings on your web page. Google uses these to define what the most important text on your web page is.

  • Use only one h1 tag on each web page, and make sure that it contains the same keyword phrase that is in the title tag
  • You can use multiple h2 and h3 tags, but keep them to a minimum.

13. p tags

Always use p tags to wrap the paragraphs of text on your web page. This helps Google know what text on your site is relevant in relationship to the h1, h2, and h3 tags.

14. Where do keywords matter?

Your keywords need to be in the follows parts of your web page to help you with search engine :

a. Meta description tag: The meta description tag is in the <head> of your web page. It is important to have a meta description tag in the home page of your site and that it contains your website’s most important keyword phrases. There is some debate as to how important the meta description tag is for the inner pages of your website, but the consensus is that inclusion does no harm.

b. HTML title tag: Each web page of your site MUST have your targeted keyword phrase in the HTML title tag.

c. In the body of the text: Know your HTML! The main keyword phrase should be in the tag, and used in the tags of your web page.

d. In the “alt” attribute in your <img> tags: It is important that you make sure that each image on your web page has a clearly written “alt” attribute (The “alt” attribute is what Google uses to determine what your image is about).

Links: How to use links, what makes them work, and why they matter

15. What are links and why are they important?

A link is an HTML tag that is placed on one web page and that links to another web page.

An example of a simple link to Google is <  href=”http://www.google.com” >Click here to go to Google< /a >

The number and quality of sites that link to yours is a large part of how Google determines the importance of your own website, and therefore how it ranks you in the search results.

16. Not all links are created equal!

Google does not count all links equally:

  • The Google algorithm can only measure links on web pages that output their content as HTML. Links in Flash-based sites are not measured.
  • The webpage with the link on it must be accessible by the Google indexing “spider” program. If the link is on a page hidden by a login form (such as most Facebook pages) then Google will not index that link
  • Links within paragraphs of content are given more value than elsewhere.

Also of note is “ nofollow ” -attributed links. The “nofollow” attribute is often added automatically to links in blog comments and other comment areas. Google does not measure links that have the “nofollow” attribute the same way that it measures links without it. The “nofollow” attribute is meant to discourage Google from giving that link any value.

Please note, however, that recently there has been some evidence that Google does measure “nofollow” links and gives them some value. As a rule, seek to create links to your site that do not contain the “nofollow” attribute.

An example of the “nofollow” attribute is: < a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow” >Link text< /a >

17. PageRank and link quality

Google ranks the importance of a link to your site based on the perceived importance of the site that contains the link. Google measures the importance of a website partly based on a concept called “PageRank”. If a site has many quality links to it, then Google will give it a high PageRank. Websites like usa.gov (the official portal for the American government) has a PageRank of 10, which is the highest possible.

The fastest way you can increase your website’s position on the search engine result pages is to get links from websites with high PageRank.

18. Proper link structure

The structure of the links that point at your site are also important:

a. Keywords in anchor text: The anchor text is the text of the link itself. If possible, include your targeted keyword phrase in the anchor text on the link.

b. Keywords in the URL of your webpage: There is some debate, but many people believe that having your targeted keywords in the URL of your webpage will give you an advantage with Google. For example, if your webpage is called www.cattoys.com you will have an advantage for the search phrase “cat toys”. If your domain name does not contain your keyword phrase, you can include it as the name of your page itself.

19. Linking strategies

There are several techniques and tips on linking strategies, but all tend to repeat the following:

a. Create original content: Content is king! The best way to get links to your site is to produce high quality, interesting content. If you make a website that attracts people and holds their interest, then you will naturally accumulate many high quality links, and your website will rise on the search engine result pages. Spend time creating valuable content through creating information pages on your site or adding a news blog. Creating content takes time, and the method you use to create this content is limited only to your imagination.

b. Reciprocal linking: This is when two websites link to each other. This is an effective way to gain links, as both website owners are rewarded with a link. However, it is likely that Google values reciprocal links lower than “one way” links.

c. Three way linking: This is another tactic for building links where three websites owners agree to link to each others sites in a “link wheel”; website A links to website B, website B links to website C, and website C links to website A. This strategy has proven effective for some websites.

20. Make your webpages easy to link to

Use “retweet” and Facebook “like” buttons. Also, you can insert simple scripts into your web pages to allow visitors to email the URL to a friend.

21. Remember the goal of SEO!

At the end of the day, the goal of SEO is to build high quality traffic to your website, not just to build links!

Do not underestimate the power of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to send traffic to your site. Even though links from these sites may not be given much value by the search engines, they may end up being your most valuable sources of traffic.

How you have read My Top 20 (oops! I over-delivered again), 21 SEO Tips, if you’re having problems using them, why not ask a question.

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