Everyone wants their site to receive a lot of traffic, but when it comes to search engine optimization, sometimes it’s tough to know where to begin. Below are five tips to get you started with SEO and help make sure your site is search engine friendly.
Understand Keywords for Maximum SEO
Keywords are one of the most important parts of SEO. They are the words or phrases that your users submit as a query to one of the search engines. So how do you make the most of keywords on your site?
- Place keywords in the title. Search engines pay a lot of attention to the words and phrases placed in the <title> tag.
- Make sure your <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags contain keywords.
- Place keywords at the top of your content. Words and phrases that are near the top of your content carry more weight than those lower on the page.
- Place keywords in your last paragraph. Search engines understand that important terms are often included in a closing summary paragraph.
- Avoid keyword stuffing! This is very important! It will adversely affect your ranking if Google thinks you’re intentionally over-using keywords in an attempt to boost your results. A general rule of thumb is to keep your keyword density to less than 5%.
- Write naturally. If your writing sounds awkward because you’re trying to sprinkle too many keywords into the content, you’re taking the wrong approach.
- Use the right keywords. This may seem obvious, but many sites are often surprised by the keywords their users are searching on. If you need help researching which keywords your audience is searching for, there are commercial services like Wordtracker that can help.
- Avoid using the wrong keywords. This is often a matter of careful writing. Imagine if you repeatedly spelled ‘whether’ as ‘weather’. Besides leaving a bad impression with your readers, you can imagine the search results may not be what you had expected. Using the wrong keywords can also be a problem if you are prone to repeatedly using pet phrases or slang in your writing. The important point is to be mindful of the words you are using when creating your content.
Create Linkworthy Content
Having inbound links to your website from established, reputable sites that have content similar to your own can really help your search rankings. The important point here is that quality matters. A lot of people who are new to SEO will engage in link exchanges with just about anyone. Search engines are pretty good at identifying a link from a reputable site vs. one from a link farm.
Provide Quality Content
You may have heard about Google’s recent update to its search algorithm called Panda. Overnight, thousands of sites saw their rankings plummet. Google sent a clear message with this latest change – quality matters.
To rank well with search engines, provide well-written, authoritative information. One way to ensure you’re creating good content is to simply ask yourself, “Is this content helping my users solve a real problem?”.
Another point to keep in mind about content is that size matters. I’m not suggesting you need to write epically long posts, but they should be at least 300 words.
And for the record, spelling, grammar and punctuation are indeed a mark of quality content! Of course, it’s not necessary to be a grammar expert, but you should at least run spellcheck and thoroughly proofread anything you publish.
Optimize Your Images
Most web designers know to include an ALT attribute for accessibility reasons, but it can also help your SEO. Place keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of your images to optimize their search potential.
Another tip with regard to images is giving them descriptive, keyword-filled file names. For example, if you have an image of a flat screen television you offer for sale on your site, don’t simply name it product.jpg. Instead try something more descriptive like, flat-screen-tv.jpg. A good file name can be as important as the ALT attribute.
Optimize Internal Links
Having links to other pages on your site helps search engines notice them. For example, say you’ve written a series of posts on typography. You should make sure you create links between the posts to help point search engines in the right direction.
An important point to keep in mind with regard to all links is the anchor text. Instead of “click here”, use a descriptive term to increase the relevance of the link.
Wrapping It Up
Creating content that ranks well with search engines takes time and practice. But SEO is a tool everyone who publishes a website should have in their kit. Do you have a favorite search engine optimization tip I left off my list?