Update 1/06/2011: Great Resource for SEO from Web Design Dev
For a while I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of just what exactly is Search Engine Optimization. The best developers and designers claim to write code that is optimized for search engines. There are tons of websites dedicated to providing SEO packages. There are tons of websites dedicated to teaching SEO, most are advertisements for companies that sell these aforementioned packages and don’t teach very much at all. However, I’m not the type of person to pay for something related to the internet unless I’ve tried and failed numerous times. I like the DIY approach. Here are the lessons I’ve learned related to web optimization along the way.
1. Most of it is BS
There’s no magic html code or application or plugin that you can add to your site and get instant page one Google results. SEO is really just a fancy phrase for writing content and code that targets what your audience is looking for. You can easily do it yourself.
If you are hiring someone to blog for your business, this person should understand that there is no magic pill for great search engine results. When you ask someone if they know SEO, they should reply, “Yes, I can write great, intriguing content that will get people to our page and more importantly, get them to stay.”
2. Optimize your content
This is not just important for SEO, it is vital for web writing in general. People read blogs differently than they read a book or a newspaper. PEOPLE SKIM! Don’t believe me? Read this post by Copyblogger on how to get more people to read your content.
Things you can do to optimize your content:
- Write shorter paragraphs. (Try 3-4 sentences max.)
- Break things up into sections with bold titles.
- Use relevant, informative, short titles.
- Use bulleted lists.
- Emphasize important ideas with formatting: Bold or underline them.
- Use keywords and well-known synonyms.
This last bullet point needs some clarification. Meaningful content can become easier to understand and optimized for search engines by highlighting what you are talking about multiple times and using a handful of keywords related to that topic, i.e. count how many times I use “Search Engine Optimization” in the article, or its equivalent, without sounding redundant or confusing. (I’ve used it 12 times already.)
3. Post Tags
Add post tags to your content. Add as many as you can while still being relevant to the topic. It adds additional key words to your post without cluttering up the content.
Monitor which posts get the most traffic and what key words your audience used to find it. Include those key words in future posts about the same topic. Keep in mind what type of article entices readers i.e. gets more page views, likes and tweets. Use google analytics and share button statistics; they’re free and easy to use.
This is really the heart of higher rankings. Knowing what your audience is looking for and giving it to them.
Links are a huge part of rankings. Getting links back to your content is not something you can really control, however you can do several things to make it more likely to happen.
- Write great content that’s worth sharing.
- Link to others.
- Make friends with the same interests as you.
- Get involved in other projects.
I find that having friends who write blogs is the best way to get links back to your page. Link to your friends and they might link back to you!
Otherwise, get involved by writing guest blog posts or commenting on posts with a link back to your page. All of these things will lead to more links back to your page and better rankings in the long-run.
6. SEO coding
In between the head tags of the HTML document that is your webpage, should be meta tags. Meta tags contain the hidden information that is visible to search engines but not your audience. The proper use of meta tags can add to SEO and high page rankings but it is not as important as the other things outlined in this article.
In case you are interested in adding meta tags to your website, it looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Jaime Hoerbelt’s personal website with social media tips, graphic design inspiration and insight from internships and other college experiences.” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”website tips, etsy, graphic design, internships, social media” />
<meta name=”author” content=”Jaime Hoerbelt” />
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1″ />
SEO is not difficult to do once you wade through some of the BS surrounding it. If you have any other optimization tips, feel free to share them in the comments. For more information: Level343 has some pretty good articles on search engine optimization. CopyBlogger is another favorite of mine for writing optimized and compelling content.