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Guide to SEO

|Jan 31|magazine11 min read

Search Engine Optimization is either a friend or foe to business owners. Either a CEO understands the premise behind SEO and its benefits, or he or she can’t figure out for the life of them how to properly create content and organize the back side of a website so that major search engines and spiders pick up the website and provide its offerings to a target audience.

The dictionary description of SEO is the active practice of optimizing web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines, according to Seomoz, one of the largest informative forces in the industry. However, figuring out which element of optimizing a website can be extremely difficult to understand and determine, since so many of those elements are interlaced.

Depending on the business and website, the SEO reach touches on the keyword terms and phrases that attract web users to your website to generate traffic, parts of the site search that makes its search engine friendly, and internal links that web crawlers use to grade the legitimacy of your website, among so much more.

WHY SEO IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR WEBSITE

More likely than not, you’re using Google, Bing, or Yahoo! to search for things on the web, so it makes perfect sense that your website must also be attractive to these search engines, too. The online environment is continuing to advance and is becoming more difficult to let companies rise above their competitors when it comes to page ranks.

Seomoz offers some helpful information from Yahoo!, Google and Bing and their webmaster guidelines and search engine rankings. Yahoo! has these factors that websites must have for high ranking, which include:

• The number of other sites linking to it
• The content of the pages
• The updates made to indices
• The testing of new product versions
• The discovery of additional sites
• Changes to the search algorithm – and other factors

Bing engineers at Microsoft recommend the following to improve rankings:

• In the visible page text, include words users might choose as search query terms to find the information on your site.
• Limit all pages to a reasonable size. We recommend one topic per page. An HTML page with no pictures should be under 150 KB.
• Make sure that each page is accessible by at least one static text link.
• Don’t put the text that you want indexed inside images. For example, if you want your company name or address to be indexed, make sure it is not displayed inside a company logo.

And finally, Google recommends the following:

• Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as cloaking.
• Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
• Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
• Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

THE BASICS

One of the first things to determine is the keywords that best describe your business that will be typed into search engines. Think of the best generic and detailed terms and phrases that suite your website and what people would be typing in to find your website and the products and/or services your brand offers. When it comes to web page titles, they should be written using the strongest keyword targets, using two or three basic two-keyword phrases. Unnecessary repetition of keywords, or keyword stuffing, will often be considered by spam and will rank lower on search engine pages.

Search engines collect data about websites by sending an electronic spider to visit the site and copy its content to be stored in the search engine’s database. Known as “bots,” the spiders follow links from one page to the next and record links and send other bots to make copies of content on those linked pages. Once a spider lands on your page, it needs help navigating through the site, by the use of easy-to-follow text links directed to the most vital pages on the site.

A successfully optimized site comes down to simplicity for customers and search spiders. Well-written content and proper internal links are the basic and most essential elements to attracting a target audience and keeping them on a site.