Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be at the top of your Web publishing priority list. If Web surfers can’t find your site, they can’t read it, use it or share it with others.
One might think SEO is an arcane science that only a few experts have mastered. There is quite a bit to it, and there are times you might want to employ an SEO firm or expert to help you optimize your site. Often this is a costly solution that’s not feasible for individuals or small businesses.
The good news is Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are quite a few things you can do on your own. I’ve got a few proven, and easy to do tips and techniques that will help people find your content and make it easy for Google (and other engines) to crawl and index your site.
Lead with good content.
My number one tip for SEO? Provide frequently updated content that people want to read. Incoming links are key and if you can provide content that people will read and get something out of, there is a good chance they will link to that content.
Research your keywords.
You can use a Keyword Suggestion Tool or simply put yourself in the mindset of your target audience. Learn which terms people will search with and get those into your content and meta information.
Provide a good, clear title.
If SEO is important to you make sure you don’t get cute with the titles for your pages. Write titles that are clear and contain your keywords. Once you’ve got that title written, make sure it appears in your title tag as well as in your top level heading tags (h1) on your pages.
Don’t use splash pages or Flash.
Search engines like text. A Flash or image intro can block an engine’s crawler right at your homepage. If you do use images, be sure to add keyword laden descriptions to your alt attributes. There are discussions about Google now being capable of “reading” Flash content. This is not entirely true.
Google can apparently read text from Flash files, but cannot yet put that text into context with the rest of your site. You may have Flash text elements that say “click here” or similar,with the bulk of your other “text” actually being images. These are still invisible to google and I would still advise against using for the time being.
Make sure you provide a robots.txt file that will help tell crawlers what to index on your site. There are quite a few neat things you can do with your robots.txt file, so you might want to read up on them.
Code your pages with standard, clean and semantic markup.
The cleaner your code the easier it is to crawl. Use markup as it is intended with the proper tags tied to the proper information. For example, place your headings with in heading tags, paragraphs within paragraph tags, etc. Another good idea is to move all your presentation into a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) file. This makes your code lighter, faster and easier to index.
Don’t get tricky!
Whatever you do, don’t try to “trick” your way into more traffic. Duplicate pages, hidden links and other less-than-honest techniques can get you seriously penalized and ruin any positive work you’ve done.
Be patient and don’t forget the people!
Search engines are constantly updating and re-indexing. It may take awhile after you’ve made some changes to see the results. Hang in there, keep working on your content and keep providing something that people find useful.
It’s easy to forget that the reason you want to optimize for search in the first place is that you want to bring people to your site and your content!