I wouldn’t call myself a search engine optimization (SEO) expert. I don’t study Google’s algorithms on a daily basis. I don’t even calculate my keyword density, for those who know what that is. But, I do know the basics and I know how to get a website to the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you’re interested in getting free website traffic, consider these SEO tips.
WHAT IS SEO?
Search engine optimization is creating and maintaining your website so that it will show up in search engine results, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. You have to remember that everything in the SEO world is based on keywords and keyword phrases.
Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines to find websites. For example, if I want to buy a tennis racket, I might go to Google and type in “best tennis racket.” That is a keyword phrase and as a website owner, you need to target good keywords relevant to your market.
Everything you do to your website to help rank well in search engine results is often referred to as on-page SEO. Arguably, off-page SEO is more important but when it comes to SEO, every little bit helps. If you get your on-page SEO right, your off-page SEO work will be much more effective.
The domain name for your website is the first thing you need to consider. Without going into great detail, having your domain name as your exact keyword phrase is very helpful. Many keyword phrases are unavailable as .com, .net or .org. There are many top level domains to choose from, but in my experience, it is easier to rank using .com, .org, and .net.
If you can’t get the exact keyword phrase in your domain, add a word to it, or at least use part of your keyword phrase. For example, http://superbadinternetmarketing.com includes internet marketing, I just added Superbad. If you have a long keyword phrase, or you’re wondering whether to add a hyphen between words, check out this article on how to choose the best domain name.
One last thing about domain names. If you haven’t purchased a domain name yet, consider buying your domain for as long as you can, like 2-5 years. Google actually looks at how old the domain is and how long the domain is registered for. If you have a brand new domain name that’s only registered for 1 year, it may take a bit longer to get your website on the first page of search results. It’s one more factor to consider.
Title of Your Website
After choosing a proper domain name, you need to put your keyword phrase in the title of your website. The title of your website is listed in search results and it shows up at the top of the browser when someone is viewing your page. You need to use your keyword phrase so people can find your website when they type in your keyword. If you name your website Smith and Company, that won’t help people find you when they type in whatever product or service you’re selling.
One thing you must understand is that search engines rank pages, not websites. That means you might have one page of your website that shows up for a specific keyword because that page is optimized for a specific keyword phrase. Every single page of your website can have a separate title and target a different keyword, if that’s your business model. If you have a website built on a blog platform, every post is a different page, and you should choose good keywords every time you write an article or create a post.
The meta description for your website is what shows up in search results beneath the title of your website. Search engines don’t always use your meta description, but if it’s accurate, helpful and relevant, they probably will. Use your keyword phrase and any related phrases in your meta description.
Don’t forget, there are two reasons to have a good meta description. First, it can help you for SEO purposes. Second, it’s what people read if your website comes up in search results, so you need to convince them to visit your website. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords up, that looks too spammy. Tell potential visitors why they should go to your website and use good keywords.
If you have a blog format website or you use titles on your pages, you should consider using keyword phrases for those titles. However, always create your content for your readers first, search engines second. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfectly optimized site if it looks like someone threw up (literally) a bunch of keyword phrases when visitors try to read your website. Use keywords in the titles when it makes sense to do so.
For blog posts, you should not only make sure that you use keywords in your titles, but you need to set up your website so that the domain name of every page is the title of that page and the domain. In other words, you need to change your permalink structure.
In WordPress, you can do that by going to Settings, Permalinks and click on Custom Structure and type in “/%postname%/” without the quote marks. You can also use month and name, or day and name, if you want. Just be sure the name of the post is in the domain and title of your page.
Of course, you need to use your keyword phrases within the content on your website. Some people recommend that you should actually use the keyword once per every hundred words, or some variation of that. That is referred to as keyword density. I write for people and when it makes sense to use keywords, I use them. When you start writing for keyword density, it looks spammy and the content usually sucks. Don’t over-think this one.
In addition to your keyword phrase, search engine robots expect to see synonyms and related keywords. For example, if your website is about how to make money online, Google might expect to see related words, like “blogging,” or “internet marketing.” Use the Google Keyword Tool to find related phrases or the Google Wonder Wheel, and Related Searches tool, which are both found on the left sidebar of Google search results.
Other SEO Tips
If you have a blog, you will have the option to choose a category and add tags. You should definitely choose appropriate categories, with relevant keywords. You should also add a few relevant tags to each post. Don’t get carried away with the tags, otherwise it starts to look spammy to people and search engine robots.
If you have images on your website, you should use keyword phrases in the alt description. When you add a photo to your web page, you will usually have the option to add a description or title. Search engine robots can’t read images but they can read the alt description of your photo so use a keyword in the description if you can.
The quality of your content plays a role in your search engine rankings. While Google robots can’t actually read and judge the quality of your content, they do use other methods to determine the quality of your content.
Keyword stuffing is typing a bunch of keywords into the content so that you rank higher in the search results. Google can tell if you keyword stuff. If you do that, Google will likely recognize it and treat your website accordingly.
Google really wants to provide good, relevant search results for their users. When people visit your website and immediately click back to the search results without clicking anything or staying for any length of time (referred to as a “bounce”), that means that your website is not providing users with what they’re looking for. If you steal duplicate content and put it on your website, Google will likely recognize that. The point here is, if your website is no good, it won’t do very well in search results for any extended period of time. Create a website that provides people with what they’re looking for.
Off-page SEO is everything that you do outside of your website that helps your web pages rank well in search results. Off-page SEO is what gives your website authority and credibility with the search engines. The main method used is obtaining backlinks. There are plenty of other methods for getting traffic to your website, but creating backlinks is what will help get your web page ranked with the search engines.
Backlinks are links on other websites that link to your website. So, if the New York Times posts an article about how amazing your company is and includes a link to your website, that’s a backlink. The more backlinks you get, the more important your website appears in the eyes of search engine robots. Every backlink is essentially a vote for your website. But, all votes are not equal.
PageRank is a system developed by Google for ranking the importance of websites. The scale goes from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most important websites and 0 being the least important. You can determine the PageRank of any website with tools, such as the Google Toolbar or the toolbar at SEO Book. PageRank is only one factor that Google takes into consideration when determining search results for any given keyword, so don’t obsess over it.
When it comes to backlinks, getting a backlink from a web page with a high PageRank is better than a backlink from a low PageRank website. The higher the PageRank, the more “link juice” a web page will carry. In other words, important websites, according to Google, have more “voting power” than other websites. It’s not difficult to see that a backlink from the New York Times should carry more weight than a backlink from your friend’s blog that has virtually no traffic whatsoever. You may not be able to right away, but you should try to get backlinks from websites with high PageRank.
Let’s assume you have a website that sells clothing for cats and you’re trying to get backlinks. So, you ask your aunt to put a link to your website on her real estate website. While all links help, a link from relevant websites carry more weight than websites that are totally unrelated. If you got backlinks from your local pet shelter, or a pet store, that would make more sense for a clothing for cats website.
When Google indexes your website for cat clothing, it doesn’t make sense when the search engine robots crawl a real estate website and find a link to a cat clothing website. Not only that, but your goal should be to get targeted traffic to your website. Targeted traffic means people that are actually interested in buying cat clothing, not people looking for real estate.
Anchor text is the text actually used to create the backlink. You could use the url, you could use the name of the website, you could use “click here,” or you could use keywords. Guess which one is the best? Yes, keywords.
When you use keywords to create backlinks, you are telling the search engines what your website is about. If search engine robots come across links everywhere using “make money online” as the anchor text, with links back to your website, it helps them recognize that your website is relevant to the phrase “make money online.” Any link is good but a backlink with your keyword phrase as the anchor text is the most valuable.
If you understand the SEO basics above, you have enough knowledge to succeed online. Yes, there is more to SEO that I haven’t covered, but nothing that will keep you from getting on the first page of Google search results. If you choose the right keywords, use the tips above and build backlinks on a regular basis, your website will be on the first page of Google search results before you know it.
Check out this article if you want to learn more ways to get website traffic.