Saturday, February 11, 2012

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics Tutorial

Understanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative for anyone trying to boost the visibility of their website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). All too often people launch their SEO campaigns without nailing down the fundamental principles behind the art of website optimization. The following is a tutorial on the basic SEO principles - many of the discussion points are best practices that have been established within the SEO community for years. Let's get started!

On Site SEO Basics

The first thing you want to do prior to launching your SEO campaign is ensure your website is set up for optimal performance in the SERPs. While there are many on-site issues one must attend to, the following are most important:

Content: you must develop well-written, valuable content that is optimized for the keywords you are trying to show up for in the SERPs. It is very difficult to appear for a keyword if it does not appear within the text of the web page in question. With that in mind - don't stuff your keyword on the page!

Title Tags: a title tag is an HTML element that appears in the top left hand corner of a web browser. It is also the link that appears in the search results that people can click through on to reach your website. It is an absolute must that you incorporate the most important keywords you want that page to show up for within the title tag. Keep in mind that search engines will only display the first 65-70 characters, and the most important keywords should be placed towards the front of the tag.

Internal Links: you want to set up an effective internal linking structure within your site. For example, an effective way of doing that is to link to all of your sub-category pages from the main category page. A category page would most likely appear in the main navigation of the site. Likewise, it is also recommended that you link from your homepage to the most important category pages. This helps the search engine robots crawl your site, and emphasizes what pages are most important and relevant to people searching online.

Technical SEO: there are also a number of technical pieces that play a role in whether or not a site does will in the SERPs, but some are more important than others. It is necessary to ensure that you have sitemap and robots files uploaded to the root domain, to tell the robots where to go and where not to go. Also, make sure the search engines can't crawl 2 versions of your site - 301 redirect all the non-WWW pages to their WWW counterparts.

Off-Site SEO Basics

Really, the off-site SEO basics are centered around link building. The way that Google's ranking algorithm works is based off of these links. If a site has a lot of quality links pointing to their site, it tells the search engine that your site is important. Thus, the search engine is more likely to return your site to people searching online. Here are some link building strategies you can think about using:

Submitting to Directories: directory submissions are easy to do, but can be time consuming. Basically, there are millions of directories online that will categorically list sites and links to those sites. These links aren't powerful, but if you are just starting out this isn't a bad idea.

Blog Comments: search around online and find blogs that are related to your site. See if the host allows blog comments, and whether or not you can add a link to the name when you leave a comment. You can do this easily by searching with the command: yourname@yourkeywords (enter blog theme here). Blog comments are also lower quality backlinks, but often you can choose the anchor text of the link which is good for rankings.

Guest Blog Posts: you can also track down bloggers in your industry and offer to write a post that they can add to their website. Often, people will do this and agree to link back to your site. Why? Well, content is an asset online. If the person is able to post valuable information that his or her readers will enjoy and will drive traffic to their site, giving you a link may be worth it.

Paid Links: despite the fact that Google despises paid links and it violates their terms of service, it remains a strategy that you may want to consider depending on your industry. Sometimes it is almost necessary to buy links to rank for your desired keywords. Try your best to buy links from sites that are related to your own if you are going to take this approach.

Of course, this is a very basic SEO tutorial. For advanced SEOs, these recommendations are second nature. But for those of you who came today looking for the tips to get your site off the ground and running, I hope you found this post useful!

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