Search engine optimization also called SEO is a subject that requires skill, practice, research and some intuition. The reason it is such a difficult subject to master. Is that search engine algorithms (the formula a search engine uses to decide on how relevant a site is) are kept secret by the search engines and subject to change regularly? The exact formula is very difficult to determine and sometimes results are unpredictable even for the most experienced search engine expert. On the other hand, one constant, is that if a site is built using good solid SEO techniques and following some simple tips, it will naturally rank better than a site that does not follow the guidelines.
- Appropriate incoming links are important. Even a little research into SEO will uncover the importance of incoming links to a site's ranking. However, not just any link will do, they should be sites linking to you that are relevant to your topic. A link to a book site from an equipment-manufacturing site does not carry as much weight as a link from a book fan site or a link from another book site.
- Information is essential for good SEO that means words. Content is anything that draws the visitor, imparts value and in this increasingly information driven world, provides something the visitor wants to know about. If you sell books then your information should be about books. You can include what authors are offered, what cost the books are, and even something about the individual books. If you do not provide information or content then your SEO rankings will not be as high and even more important, your visitors probably will not return.
- Keywords are essential for good SEO but the wrong keywords can be detrimental to your SEO ranking and your traffic and your sales if you are selling a product. Keyword choices are what make or break a website. If your product is snow shovels and your physical store is in North Dakota then not only would you want to choose a keyword like "snow shovels" but also "snow shovels North Dakota". If you are an online store then "order snow shovels online" might be a good choice. What you want your visitors to find should help determine your keyword choices.
Keywords are not just for text but should be integrated in all parts of your site. Your site title, your page title, your alt text for images, your Meta tags and any bold text should contain your keywords. Use them well but do not abuse them as "spam" (using a keyword with too great a frequency) will cause a website to lose rankings and sabotage SEO efforts.
- The most common method of arranging these links is a link exchange. Ensure that you have a form or email on your site that will let other webmasters contact you about exchanging links.
- Surf relevant sites and contact their webmaster in order to arrange a trade if they seem useful and relevant to your site.
- Your site should be designed to be SEO friendly and that means navigation and inbound links on your site. You should be linking to other pages on your site as it helps the visitor find their way around and just as important for your page ranking, it helps the search engine. Site maps are essential for good SEO a link on the bottom of the page to a sitemap throughout your site is important.
- Use effective SEO analysis tools in order to see how your efforts are paying off. SEO analysis tools such as the ones Google subsidizes can analyze your site and SEO effort and show you the result of your keywords, your page rank and other important information. Yahoo offers similar tools, which show inbound links to your site and your relevant popularity.
- The one thing that is certain about SEO is that it will change. In order to optimize your efforts, you should also keep abreast of the latest news. Discover what changes are in the works and explore other webmaster's thoughts on SEO techniques.
- Each page will have "hidden" Meta tags. These tags are visible only to the search engine spiders or browsers. The description and keyword tags are hidden to the normal user but read by the search engine spiders and can affect how well your page ranks. Make use of these Meta tags to tell the search engine spiders what that page contains.
- There are two ways to go about SEO for a website. One is the solid way, which delivers content to the surfer and the search engine spiders, and simply provides a quality site. Those are the "good guys" and the results are long term and solid. On the other hand, there is also what is known as "black hat SEO" which tries to fool the search engine with tricks to raise the rankings and hence the traffic. In most cases they do not work. However, when they do, the results are usually temporary and the side effects may well be having the site banned or penalized by all the search engines.
- Do not duplicate your content, do not borrow or reuse pages or text because SEO efforts will suffer. This also applies to each page's tags, the keyword tags and the description tags. Making page 80 on your site identical in tags to the other 79 pages will cause your SEO efforts to suffer since that is considered duplicate content by most search engines.