SEO for Beginners
Search Engine Optimization is a very complicated but very useful form of internet marketing. It is always expanding and the techniques are always changing, but any freelancer, business owner, or web developer should know the basics.
What is SEO?
To understand how to use search engine optimization, you first need to know what it is and how it works. Optimizing a website for search engines means altering certain features of the site so that it receives more organic traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These search engines can generate huge amounts of traffic, so understanding how they work can greatly increase your website’s visibility.
How do search engines work?
Search engines “crawl” through the internet and index sites in huge databases that can be accessed later when someone performs a search. When this happens, the search engines pull up pages deemed to be most relevant and important, based on a number of factors. The process is vast and complicated, but there are some simple steps you can take that will help these “crawlers” find your site more easily.
First things first, if you want search engines to find you, you need to use their language. In this case that means HTML. Flash, Java, and other non-text applications do not attract the attention of search engines when they crawl through your site. If you use flash, make sure that other parts of your site do use HTML so that you won’t be invisible to search engines.
This is the least technical part about SEO. Thinking about keywords means that you need to think about what your potential clients/customers/visitors might search for when looking for your type of website. Think about what might attract their attention, and make sure to use key words that explain exactly what your business or website does, but don’t try to trick people. Using popular words or phrases to attract the attention of a larger audience will only bring lots of people who don’t actually want to utilize your services or visit your website, and that’s not the type of traffic you want.
One of the factors that search engines look for when ranking your site’s relevance and importance is the number of external sites that link to you. The more websites that link to your site, the more “important” your site is, and thus it should show up higher on the list when someone performs a search. To build more links, you need to do some old-fashioned internet marketing and public relations. Depending on the type of site, you can ask other sites about link exchanges, add your site to directories, look for blogs who might want to feature your site, set up an affiliate program, and even buy ads on other sites.
Don’t forget about pictures
Photos are so important when talking about SEO, because photo searches are so popular. However, people enter text when searching for a photo, so you really need to add text to your photos so that people can find them through search engines. If you do not know how to add “alt” text you can find a short tutorial here. When figuring out what to say in your alt text, use the same technique as you did when thinking about keywords. Think about what people might search for when looking for your image or site, and make sure that it is accurate.
Create a link structure that makes sense
Your site’s homepage is the page that search engines will reach first. From there, they only really crawl over pages that are directly linked to from the home page. If you have many different pages on your site, and not many that are linked to from the home page, you might want to re-think your structure. All of the important pages that you want to be found by search engines should be directly accessible from your home page.
Resources you should know
SEOmoz.com – This site has a huge amount of articles about SEO and online marketing. It includes tutorials, tips, checklists, and much more.
seo-browser.com – This site offers a very valuable service. It can check your site to see if there are any parts of your site that can’t be indexed by search engines, so you know what needs to be fixed.
Google Webmaster Tools – Google has one of the most comprehensive guides for SEO and everything website-related. Plus, it is the premiere search engine, so if you want to know how to get search engines to find your site, you might as well go right to the source.
Do you have any other tips or resources to share?