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Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization or SEO  is a collection of techniques that help to improve the search ranking of your web site. Put simply, sites that are ranked higher in a search engine appear earlier in search results and are more likely to be clicked. This article will present practical measures business owners can take to improve site rankings.

  • Decide what terms you want people to find your site with.
    • These are called keywords.
    • Many of the enhancements you can do with content revolve around making specific words more prominent.
  • Submit your site to quality search engines.
    • Search engines may be able to find your site on their own, but why not help the process along by submitting your site directly to them?
    • After submitting, the search engine will dispatch a program to collect data about your site’s content and add it to its catalog of sites.
    • This program, called a crawler or bot will return periodically to check for updates on your site.
  • Keep track of how people reach your site.
    • You need to understand what terms people are using to reach your site.
      Armed with this information you can adjust your content to reinforce the same terms or expand to new terms.
    • There are numerous free tools that provide this type of information, including Google webmaster tools.
  • Include relevant key words in all links to your site.
    • This includes links within your site and from external sites.
    • The link text should give an indication the reader where the link will take them.
    • Instead of saying “View the Tasty Bowl Menu here” you could say “For more info, see The Tasty Bowl Menu
    • A simple test is whether the link makes sense without the the surrounding text.
  • Include alternate text on all images and multimedia.
    • Alternate text gives a hint to search engines about what the user will see on the page.
    • A search engine can then add this information to its calculation on what search terms are relevant to a page.
    • Where it is natural, include key word references in image descriptions.
  • Make page titles and section headers descriptive.
    • Include key words in these items where appropriate.
    • Your site’s visitors are busy and are likely to scan headings for the data they are looking for. Search algorithms take this into account and potentially give more weight to text with emphasis or that is separated from the body of the text.
  • Give the folders and pages in your site meaningful names.
  • Use a site map and a robots.txt file.
    • These items help search engines decide which pages to include in their search results.
    • Don’t make the search engine guess, tell it exactly what pages people will care about on your website.
  • Get related and reputable businesses to link to your site.
    • For example, if you have a major supplier you can ask to be listed on their customers page.
  • Get respected sites such as government, community and non profits to link to your site.
    • The quality of links to your site is far more important than the quantity.
    • Links from prominent sites imply a level of trust. If people trust the referring site, they are more likely to trust your site.
  • Don’t forget other means to promote your website.
    • While search engines are extremely popular, there are other was to get people to your site.
    • Most of this involves getting the word out:
      • Put your web address on all stationary, advertisements, email signatures, business cards and anything else that can be viewed by a potential customer.

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