Hacking through the Jungle
Within the past 5 years, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO has become a very popular subject for web designers, developers and bloggers throughout the world. At one time, you could weave plenty of tricks and whistles into your page and hoodwink the search engines in giving you prominence of certain keywords and phrases. But what honest methods should we employ today to make our web-sites visible in the jungle of the world-wide-web?
These days, trying to trick the search engines is considered unethical and highly harmful to your online presence. You may gain some ground in the interim, but will soon find that your website has completely fallen of the radar.
The following list of SEO techniques will highlight the most important and fundamental techniques for getting your web-site’s content to where it will really make a difference. The list is in no particular order.
1. Title Tag
The title tag will appear at the top of your browser’s window. It is now considered to be the defining start point of all on-site/on-page SEO; the search engine indexing process will initialise it’s balancing of keywords throughout your page based on the title tag.
If the title tag says little about your page, you are loosing that initial bang-factor, the search engine will then need to work out for itself what the page is about. Try to avoid using ‘stop-words’ in your title tag. Instead of “This page is all about SEO Factors” try “About SEO Factors”.
2. Natural Keyword Rich Page Content
I always like to think that good on-page SEO is like writing a newspaper articles. If you are writing about SEO for instance then ‘SEO’ is your buzz word. Put it in your title, introduction paragraph and let it naturally ‘bubble-up’ throughout your copy. Don’t force it – using your buzz word (keyword) too many times may be regarded as spamming and this may have in a negative impact on your page/site’s page rank.
- Important SEO – put in Header 1 (<h1></h1>) – use Header 1 only once per page!
- ‘Need to know’ things about SEO are discussed by bloggers – Subtitle in Header 2 or 3.
- This year, all around the world thousands of bloggers are getting together to discuss SEO techniques that are important to them. – Introduction paragraph – possibly in bold? Keep it brief.
- Then…the rest of your article.
Can you see how the reader is feed into such content? Simple title with high impact -> short subtitle expanding a little on title -> brief paragraph expanding a little more before -> the rest of the article. This is not only good from an SEO point of view, but will also encourage your readers to ‘read-on’.
3. Images & On-Site Links
I have found that having an image or two on a page seems to have a greater effect on search engine appeal than pages without. I always ensure that my image’s file name has the primary keywords in it: ‘important-seo-factors.jpg’ and each word is separated by ‘-‘ hyphens. I also include a description of the image in my ‘Alt’ tag. This also applies to page files, folder and domain names.
Links are also important in SEO. Not only do they create paths to other pages for visitors and search engines indexing, but will also allow you to increase the relevance of your giving subject by fan-tailing out into other related topics. Make sure that you include your keywords in the title tag of your links.
In both instances – with images and links as with copy, make sure that you don’t go over board with your keywords. Try and let them naturally ‘occur’ in your text.
4. Off-site imbound links
A very important factor in your SEO campaign is inbound links. Link swapping, in my opinion, does not offer a good return for SEO. On the other hand, one-way, inbound links to your site prove to the search engines that the content that you are offering is so important, that people are linking to it without a ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ arrangement.
Getting inbound links can be tricky. I have found that a good method is to write articles and publish them on sites such as Ezine Articles. Your resources can contain links back to your site – don’t forget to add your keywords relating to each linked page within the title tags! The great thing about this method is that many article sites allow other web users to republish content on there on sites or within emails. An informative, well written article may spread across the great www at an exponential rate, effortlessly creating links back to your site as it travels.
Other than articles, I’d suggest you make your content appealing to your visitors. Offer important information, news and opinions. Free downloads and freebies, free e-books will bring people in. Some may link back to your site as a resource.
Also consider putting together (for instance) a few tutorial videos and publish them on YouTube. Social networking sites like facebook and twitter can also be used to ‘spread the word’. All good for the SEO.
5. The Most Important SEO Factor…
This is a very short one – honesty. Honesty, honesty and a little more honesty! If you write with your readers at heart, you’re sure to win! Writing purely for the search engines may result in many visits, but the most important factor in the SEO equation is the human visitor. If the content is mechanical and keywords stuffed, then the reader may struggle to digest it, get annoyed at the obvious SEO campaign, feel that time has been wasted and never return, link-to or recommend!
If you write with enthusiasm, preferably on a subject that you enjoy and know a lot about, the all-important keywords will naturally pop up in your copy, images, links and tags. Oh, and also, it will make for a jolly good read!