Search Engine Optimization: An Easy Guide

Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be complex. With a little time and effort you can ensure that you website ranks well in search engine results. Taking short cuts by using techniques that search engines frown on will just get you penalized. You might get away with black hat SEO for a while, but once Google or Bing catch on they you will be penalized. Follow this easy guide to search engine optimization and soon you’ll start to see your search engine rankings improve dramatically.

Verify Your Website Code

Poor website coding can get you penalized by search engines. While their primary concern is quality unique content, they are also interested in your website’s page load times and errors. If you pages are slow to load then you will likely be penalized with a lower page rank. Similarly, if your website has too many errors then your ranking will be reduced. Search engines also look for malware and viruses on website and will not display those that have them in their search results. Many websites are poorly configured, making it easy for the bad guys to install malware and viruses on those sites. Making sure your website is properly coded and configured can help avoid these issues and improve your website ranking in search engine results.

  • Validate your website code at using¬¨‚Ć W3C Markup Validation Service and fix any issues you find.
  • Log in to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to verify your website does not have any malware or viruses. You can also view any coding errors that Google or Bing found within these tools.
  • Make sure your website is properly configured to prevent hacking or security intrusions. If you are using WordPress, configure your .htaccess files correctly.
  • Install security plugins, such as Better WP Security, to prevent future issues.
  • Fix any broken links on your website.

Optimize Your Page Content

Search engines are looking for websites that will provide their users with the best content for their search. They use a variety of factors to determine who will rank well based on their content (much of them proprietary and confidential). By optimizing your website content, you help search engines determine your content is best content to display in their results. Of course, creating unique and relevant content is critical to success. Always write for users first, not search engines. Search engines continue to update and improve their search algorithms to spot poorly written content.

  • Make use of the information in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Create unique titles for each page. They should not start with your business name and they should not be longer than 75 characters (60 is better).
  • Provide unique meta descriptions and keywords for each page.
  • Make sure each page has a H1 tag, and only one.
  • Use keywords in your headline, preferably at the beginning, and throughout the page. Avoid stuffing your page with keywords.
  • Page content should be at least 500 words, and make sure it is readable. Use a readability tool to make sure the content is easy for people to consume.

 Perform Keyword Research

Keywords are the cornerstone of search engine optimization. If you have not done the proper keyword research then you will not rank well in search engine results, simple as that. Keywords are not a single words, rather they are phrases. You could try to rank for a keyword, but it likely won’t do you any good. Either the word is too vague or the competition too great. If you sell dog collars, for example, “pet supplies” as a keyword would get you cat owners, people interested in pet food, and other clicks that are not what you want. Instead, go for something specific like “corgi dog collars.”

  • Use¬¨‚ĆGoogle‚Äö√Ñ√¥s AdWords Keyword Tool, Keyword Discovery, or WordTracker to do keyword research. They are all free, though Keyword Discovery and WordTracker have more robust paid versions as well.
  • Consider opening a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) account with Google‚Äö√Ñ√¥s AdWords, Microsoft adCenter or something else. While they cost money, they offer a great way to get actual search volume for your keywords.
  • Use long tail keywords, that is keyword phrases, instead of single generic keywords.
  • Keep your keywords relevant to your content.
  • Continue to perform keyword research so you are always targeting the best keywords possible for your industry.

Acquire Links to Your Website

Having high quality links pointing to your website is important in order to rank well in search engine results. Search engines use links as a way of validating that content is good, otherwise why would other website link to it? There are several ways to acquire high quality links. Start by looking at your industry to see if there are websites that will link to you, like a local Chamber of Commerce or trade associations. Look at where your compositors are getting their links from and try to get the same links. This process takes time and shouldn’t be rushed. If search engines see that you’ve suddenly gain hundred of links, they will know you are trying to game the system and penalize you in their search results.

  • Write great, unique, high quality content that naturally gains links from other websites.
  • Write guest articles and blog posts for other websites and ask for a link back to your website.
  • Comment on other websites, forums, and services such as Quora, Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers.
  • Ask for your keywords to be used in your links anchor text, but keep the links natural‚Äö√Ñ√Ætoo many links with highly optimized anchor text can get you penalized.
  • Don’t forget to perform internal linking within your own website, search engines count internal links as well.
  • Ask for links from other websites and submit to directories. Submit your site to DMOZ and Yahoo Directory, but don’t waste too much time with them.

Check Your Progress

Search engine optimization is not a do-it-once-and-your-time project. It’s ongoing and you need to know how you are performing. Install an analytics package on your website, such as Google Analytics or Piwik Analytics. There are several analytics programs you can use and all of them have their benefits. The important thing is that you have information available so you can track your progress and see how your search engine optimization efforts are going.

Make it a habit to check your Google Webmaster Tools account and your Bing Webmaster Tools account at least once a week. A wealth of information is provided by both tools that will help you ensure your website is always performing optimally. Continue to perform keyword analysis and keyword research regularly so you stay ahead of your competitors and continually rank well in search engine results. Make sure your site is properly coded and doesn’t have any malware or viruses that will get you de-listed. Follow these easy rules and you should be golden.

Want to take your search optimization efforts to the next level? Our search marketing services will help you dramatically improve your rankings on search engine results pages, increase website traffic, and boost your online presence. Let us help you succeed today!