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Search Engine Optimization The Basics

So you’re looking to optimize your website for search engines. Instead of just talking about specific search engines we’ll cover a broader point of view.

On-Page Criteria

So, let’s take a look at how the content of your page affects it’s ranking. Since you control the appearance of your pages, influencing the factors listed below is relatively easy. Due to that fact, page content only has a limited role in most algorithms. Yes, it is important, but reaching the top without paying attention to off-page criteria as well is extremely difficult.

Page Title

This is probably the most important part of your page, at least as far as search engines are concerned. No search engine optimization process is complete until you've added your keywords to title tag. It’s best to place the keyword phrase in the beginning of the title. Your title should be short around 3-6 words, search engines prefer this. Longer titles tend to lose site of keywords, which can cause your rank to drop. If you're going for a two or three-word phrase, try to keep it together for maximum effectiveness.

Don’t Make A Title Just For The Search Engine Spiders

The most challenging part is creating a title that is visitor-friendly and keyword rich at the same time. Not only is the title seen by those who visit the page, but it is also clearly displayed when the page appears in the search results. Titles that are simply collections of keywords in bizarre order can get you to the top of the search results. However, they also tend to keep people from clicking your listing. It's hard, but try to strike a balance between search engines and humans to get the best results.

Headings

There are 6 header tags.

<H1>

<H2>

<H3>

<H4>

<H5>

<H6>

Headings also carry a lot of weight. While often ignored, they're a very effective search engine optimization tool. Their largest drawback is their large size, which makes it difficult to use a heading on some pages.

Generally, I attempt to create headings that contain only the most vital keyword(s) and nothing else. This isn't always easy, as the heading must also make sense to those who read the page. Simply stuffing keywords inside the tag in random order is not going to cut it.

Body Text

A well-optimized title and a good heading won't do much, unless the page also contains some keyword-rich body text. Preferably, your document should contain several occurrences of the keyword. Many search engines place more weight to words found at the top of the page, so it's also very important that your keyword appears there. Again, you'll also need to make your writing seem natural. Nobody wants to read a page that is just one big list of keywords. Using the keywords in bold, italics, underlined or in outgoing link text can also provide a minor boost. However, because it influences the readability of the document, be careful with this one as well.

The Body Text Optimization Tricks

Just like with the title and heading, keeping long keyword phrases together in your body text is a must. However, if you can't do so, splitting the phrase up is better than not using it at all.

Meta Tags

Some of them make a difference, others don’t really. The most important are Title, Description meta tags. The keyword tag is their just in case but most search engines tend ignore them.

Off-Page Criteria

Today, a large part of search engine optimization work involves manipulating off-page criteria. It is perhaps somewhat harder than influencing on-page criteria, but still far from impossible. The number one rule of improving your off-page criteria is to have a great site. Good sites attract more links, which boosts their link popularity. They also have an advantage in search engines that use click popularity, because users are likely to spend more time on a site that isn't half-bad.

Link Popularity

Without good link popularity, your pages will never be able to compete under popular keywords. Having plenty of sites to point to your pages is extremely important for your ranking, especially in Google. It's possible to compensate for a lack of links to a degree. Use all of the search engine optimization tricks listed above and you'll probably be able to beat pages that have more link popularity but are badly optimized. However, when your competitor has 6,000 on-topic links and you have six, no amount of optimization is going to make you pass him in the search results.

Thus, you'll need to build links in every way you can think of. Exchange reciprocal links, encourage your visitors to link to you, write newsletter articles and so on. Just try to make sure that when someone links to a page on your site, the link text includes your most important keyword. One more reason to include keywords in the headings and titles of your pages.