Common Advice in Search Engine Optimization
Getting advice on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can sometimes seem like trying to get advice on, say, the stock market. Everybody is trying to leapfrog ahead of everyone else, and as a result you wonder if, in the end, anyone actually knows what they’re talking about.(1)
This is a fair objection. The truth, though, is that there are some fundamental principles that most experts agree on. The reason that they work is simply that not everyone tries to make their pages more easily findable by Google. Some web site owners simply assume that all they have to do is put their page up, and Google will automatically pick it up.
This much is accurate: they will. If you don’t want to be on page 17 of their listings, however, then you need to do a few things to put you ahead of the people who are making no effort at all. These are basic rules that anyone can easily follow.
Keywords are your best friend
There is a larger truth about search engines that is so obvious that is seems unfathomable that more people don’t intuitively realize it: search engines can only search through text. This means that you need the text on your web site as relevant as possible.
Take care, therefore, to make sure that key phrases that you think people who would want to come to your site would search for are somewhere in the text of your web pages, word for word. These are known as “keywords.” For example, if you are selling “Victorian wall ornaments,” those are your keywords, and you need them used on your site in multiple places, especially your front page.
A warning, though: don’t go crazy. In the past people created pages that had thousands of words consisting of nothing but keywords in invisible text. Search engines are now trained to filter out these pages. Use your keywords only in the appropriate context, but don’t be afraid to use it multiple times. Make sure as well that you throw in a few synonym phrases (“Victorian ornaments”, “Victorian decorations”, etc.)
Links are your next best friend
Search engines catalog links as much as they do basic text. Make sure that there are plenty of links on your site, optimally ones that contain in their URLs the terms that people are searching for. Other good ways of adding links that users might find are by setting up external sites that link to yours, as well as getting into link exchange programs with the appropriate types of partners.
Don’t forget social networking
Most common social networking websites are business-friendly. Be sure to setup an account on each of these, and optimally, keep them at least moderately updated. This is one more route by which users can find you, and one more potential entry in a search engine’s top 10 results.
Keep up with the trends
Finally, don’t stop here. Since everyone is trying to game search engine results, search engines themselves constantly revamp their formula. Keep an ear to the ground on the latest trends, and remember that Google isn’t the only search engine out there. Search engine optimization is a job that never quite ends, but one that the dedicated web users can easily keep up with, and are well-served by the effort.