A lot of people want to make search engine optimization appear to be highly technical and secretive. If you go to any of the popular search engines information pages, they give you the basic guidelines and even provide some good ways to check your website for potential problems. There are no secrets, the exact method search engines use to rank and index pages is proprietary to protect against people who would use that information to corrupt the integrity of the search results.
So to cut through some of the long and less than exciting information available on SEO, we compiled a simple list of necessary procedures to follow when creating any new website page. Which brings up another issue that may be misunderstood. Search engines rank website pages, not the entire website. Each website page stands on it’s own in being ranked and indexed.
SEO can be split into two areas. One is on page, which deals with how you present and format any information. The other is off page, which deals with links that point to your website pages. Another key point is not to sacrifice user-friendly aspects for SEO methods. The visitor experience should always be considered when trying to create a search engine friendly website page.
SEO on page factors are:
Meta Tags – Your title, description, keywords, should match the content. Using your keyword phrases in each in a logical and accurate manner for both search engines and vistors is important.
File Names – The page file name, graphics alt text, and any associated files should be named using the keyword phrases or related terms as they apply.
Theme – Keyword phrases should be used in natural way a long with associated and related terms. Don’t over do the keyword phrase (called “stuffing” keywords), use where necessary but don’t over use. Use H1-H6 HTML tags to indicate important titles (H1 being the most important, H6 being the least). You can also use other font attributes to indicate importance like bold, italics, or even colors.
Navigation – All navigation links should use descriptive anchor text to make it easy for both the search engines and the visitors to understand the content. If you use pull down menu graphics as element of design, make sure you also include anchor text equivalents somewhere on the website page.
SEO off page factors:
Links – Off page SEO is primarily all about links to your website page from other website pages. The authority or what Google calls Pagerank, is a point of consideration, since Pagerank can flow downwards to your website page (i.e. a Pagerank is between 1-10, the higher the number the more value). The perfect link, if there is one, would be from a high Pagerank website page of similar or like content that uses anchor text that accurately describes the content of the page being linked too.
There are many opinions on the amount of Pagerank that flows down, the weighting of the content, and the accuracy of the anchor text. Your best bet is to go with the basics of all three and be done with it.
Too many new webmasters get caught up in all the nuances and details of every specific aspect of off and on page SEO. You can easily drive yourself crazy with all the different opinions and the latest tricks or trends. The search engines constantly update the mathematical algorithms they use to rank and index website pages. The search engine’s goal is to produce the most accurate search results and to eliminate any attempts at beating the system.
The best SEO tip I can give is to follow the search engine guidelines, provide high value content, and always keep the visitor in mind while doing any SEO. Once a visitor arrives, you need to make sure that the information you present does its intended job, whatever that might involve. If direct sales, convert them to a buyer. Or maybe sign up for your newsletter, or additional information.
Getting tightly targeted search engine traffic is great, but always keep the visitor experience in mind when doing search engine optimization. Try not to get lost in the weeds and forget the main purpose of your website, whatever your goals. Sometimes the best SEO tips for new webmasters are to keep it simple and effective for both the search engines and the website page visitors.
By: John Dow
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