Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of those fancy terms that tech people throw around to make themselves seem smarter than you. While it’s true that the deepest intricacies of SEO are mind-bogglingly complex, few if any human beings actually understand them. The basic tenants of SEO, however, are fairly straightforward, so you probably don’t need to pay an SEO Specialist to optimize your site. You can do it yourself!
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is a strategy for getting your web site to rank highly in search engine results. The crudest element is keyword usage. Determine what words potential customers are likely to search for on Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, and incorporate those words into the text of your pages as frequently as possible – within limits. Make sure that each keyword doesn’t account for more than 4.5 percent of your entire text, or search engines might think that you’re trying to cheat, and classify your page as spam. A good keyword density target is 3-4 percent. Bolding, italicizing, and using your keywords in title headings and hyperlinks can also be helpful.
Search engines rank pages based on their usefulness, or at least, their best guesses as to a site’s usefulness. In addition to keyword usage, search engines estimate a site’s merit by the number (and quality) of other sites that link to it. Knowing this, you should try to get as many other sites as possible to link to yours. Many webmasters will trade links with you, but don’t expect a big league blog to simply give you a link. Establish your web presence, build a useful site, and it’s much easier to find link partners. After all, other webmasters want to link to sites that their visitors will find useful.
One strategy for increasing the number of sites linking to yours is to become a frequent poster on other people’s blogs. Don’t spam the sites – add credible, worthwhile comments to existing posts. Most blogs allow you to input your site’s URL, and your name is then hyperlinked to your site. While these aren’t official links from another site to yours, search engines don’t distinguish between links posted by site administrators, and links posted by bloggers.
Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid
First, it is important that your page has plenty of text. Some web designers insist on using graphical images of text, but this data is indecipherable to search engines. You need to have actual text using keywords that web surfers are likely to search for. Flash animations and other fanciful gimmicks don’t help your SEO case, and should be avoided whenever possible.
Secondly, try to keep your site programming as simple as possible. You can do amazing things with PHP and MySQL, but if you get carried away, search engines have a hard time reading your pages. If at all possible, try to stick to generic old .html page extensions.
Most important of all, don’t be fooled by charlatans in the SEO “industry.” For the most part, they are conmen. A typical ploy is to promise you thousands of sites linking to yours. These so-called “link farms” are well known to the major search engines, who consider any sites linked from them to be spam.
The #1 Rule of SEO – Make Your Site Useful
Textual tricks and creative link sharing strategies can only take you so far. The truth is that a legitimately useful site is most likely to do well in search engine placement. As they say, content is king. So the best way to ensure a higher ranking among Google, Yahoo!, and MSN is rather low tech – create good content that people actually want to read, and update it frequently. In no time, links will start coming your way, and you will move your way up the search engine page ranks.