Wednesday, October 10, 2007

5 Free and Easy Steps to Search Engine Optimization

While there are many advanced search engine optimization strategies that SEO professionals use to help websites climb the ladder of popular search results, the fundamentals of SEO are surprisingly straightforward and accessible to anyone with basic knowledge of HTML. Here are 5 simple things that you can do to optimize your web pages right now.

1) Do Your Homework

When optimizing a web page, you should begin by asking yourself three important questions. First, "What is this web page about?" Second, "Who is looking for it?" And third, "What words are people using to find it?"

Put yourself in the place of a web user who is searching for the product, service or information you are offering on your web page. Now consider what keywords or key phrases you would type into a search engine to find it. Once you have a few ideas in your head, use Overture's free Keyword Selector Tool ( to find out which words and phrases are most popular. Don't worry about the exact numbers, just focus on which terms are used most often. Try using synonyms for your original keywords and try not to use too much industry jargon unless your target audience is highly educated in your field of interest. When you think you've found the three most popular keywords or key phrases that match the topic of your web page, write them down and proceed to the next step.

2) Explore the Author in You

Now that you have an idea which words and phrases your target audience is using to find you, include those words in the text content of the web page you're optimizing. Add your targeted keywords to your product or service descriptions or within the body of your informational message. Web users and search engines both like informational text, so don't be shy. Try to compose at least 250 words of useful and descriptive text for your web page and include the keywords and key phrases you found in step 1 up to three times each.

3) Pull Text from Your Images

One common mistake that web designers make is burying too much useful and informative text within images. The fonts look nice but the content is hidden from search engines. To further optimize your web page, convert the wording in those images to HTML text wherever possible and add an ALT attribute to each photo or illustration that describes what the image or the content of your page is about. Hint: The image ALT attribute is another good location for the keywords and phrases you researched in step 1.

4) Tag You're It

While you're adding the ALT attribute to the images within your HTML code (and I know you are), take a look at the TITLE and META NAME tags nested between the opening and closing HEAD tags at the beginning of your HTML document. Place the keywords and key phrases you found in step 1 between the TITLE tags. Adding your keywords and key phrases to your TITLE tag is one of the most important and effective things you can do to optimize your web page so make sure you do it!

Other helpful, but less important tags to consider are the META NAME tags. The first META NAME tag, "keywords" should contain the keywords and key phrases you researched in step 1, along with synonyms and other topic related words and phrases you included within the text content of your document. Each word or phrase within the keyword META NAME tag should be separated with a comma. The "description" META Name tag should include a one or two sentence summary of the topic of your web page. And finally, the "robots" META Name tag should contain the text, "index/follow" which tells visiting search engine robots that it's okay to index your page and follow its links.

5) Use Your Headers

So far, we've mentioned a couple different HTML tags that search engines use to gather information about the content of your web pages. One important, but sometimes overlooked type of HTML tag is the header tag (H1, H2, H3, etc.). HTML header tags can be used in the body of your HTML document and are intended to provide a hierarchical structure to the content of your page. Think of your web page as a newspaper and your header tags as headlines. In this example, the H1 tag is your newspaper's front page headline and your H2 and H3 tags are article headlines from the national news and business sections.

Text contained within H1 tags are assigned the greatest importance by search engines when indexing your web page so do your best to include your researched key phrases and keywords there. Text inside H2 tags are given slightly less importance and so on and so forth. The better you organize your web page, the better search engines can zero in on your main topic, so use your header tags wisely.

Search engine robots are smart, but not as smart as people. They need guidance and direction to do their job effectively. In the absence of human guidance, robots are programmed to look for clues within your text content and HTML code to help them determine what your web pages are about. That's where search engine optimization comes into play.

Using the 5 free and easy steps to search engine optimization above, you should be able to provide visiting search engines with the clues and information they need to correctly and favorably categorize and rank your web pages within their search results. And although there are more advanced SEO strategies that can move your website further up the chain of search engine rankings, at least you'll have the basics covered

No comments:

Your Ad Here
Your Ad Here