SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and it is a fundamental part of website design. If a new website wants to achieve decent search engine rankings, it will need to incorporate and utilize SEO. The problem is, SEO is a massive subject and parts of it can be complex. There are companies that providing SEO services and some companies even concentrate on specialized areas within SEO itself. However, many new website creators do not have the budget to outsource SEO to an external agency.
Most people planning to create a new website are eager to work on the design and do not want to spend months learning the ins and outs of search engine optimization. They are keen to create a quality website and work on the design and content, but hesitant to delay the design process until they have mastered SEO.
The good news is that it is possible to learn a few simple SEO rules in a short space of time and then incorporate these into a website design. This will then allow the designer to get a site up and running and listed in the search engine results, without stopping to perform in-depth SEO research. These basic rules will ensure that a new website is fully search engine compliant and able to incorporate future SEO modifications – without having to be redesigned from scratch.
Here are the 5 main SEO tactics that aspiring website creators should be concentrating on:
1. Keyword Phrases
A keyword phrase is a short set of words that a website wants to be associated with. For example, if the site is about golf they may want to choose ‘Taylor Made cheap putters’. The main idea is that when a search engine user inputs that particular keyword phrase into a search engine, as a search query, the website will be one of the sites listed in the results.
It is best to opt for keyword phrases that are 3-4 words in length to begin with. Any shorter than this and the website may be selecting phrases that are highly competitive and hard to rank for in a search engine. These longer keyword phrases are often referred to as ‘long-tailed keywords’ and the right phrase can offer a decent amount of monthly searches with minimal competition from other sites.
The simplest and cheapest way to find a keyword phrase is to choose a phrase that the website is associated with – something connected with what the website sells, or promotes – then enter this phrase into Google’s External Keyword Tool. This handy free utility will allow the website to see how many monthly searches the phrase receives and the amount of competition there is for that keyword phrase. The External Keyword Tool will also suggest other keyword options based on the original entry. The External Keyword Tool may even suggest a better keyword phrase for you to use. Keep a record of some of the other topic-related selections with decent search results for use as secondary keywords.
The next step is to head over to Google itself and enter the keyword phrase into Google search and see how many competing sites appear for this phrase. Remember to enclose the phrase in quotes (“”) as this will provide results for that exact keyword phrase.
To begin with, a website should be looking for a primary keyword phrase that has 500-1000 monthly searches, but less than 100,000 competing sites. It is also a good idea to take a closer look at the top ten results on Google and check out the competition. If the top results feature sub-pages rather than actual homepages, there is a good chance that these can be outranked by a website adopting the SEO practices listed in this guide.
2. Domain Name and Main Title
Once a website has a primary keyword phrase, it is time to decide on a main title for the actual website and then look for a domain name.
Ideally, the main title of the site should be the same as the primary keyword phrase or at the very least include the keyword phrase within the title. Choosing a generic website name and then using a different keyword phrase is SEO suicide and can be damaging to a website’s search engine rank. It is a proven fact that search engines place importance on the title and domain name of a website when awarding rank, so having a title and domain name that are identical, or very similar to the keyword phrase, is advisable.
If you think that ‘Taylor Made cheap putters’ is not a good title then use ‘Cheap Taylor Made Putters’. Whilst having the exact same word order is perfect, rearranging the words is acceptable and will still offers an SEO advantage.
If you use web design software, or a platform like WordPress, there will be a specific area to add a website title. If not then the main title is placed between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags at the top of the site’s HTML code and sits between <TITLE></TITLE> tags.
Next, it is time to find a domain name. It is always best to opt for a .com option. This extension can be slightly more expensive, but it is the best recognized, and trusted, of the extensions and search engines reward it with greater importance. A .com extension can be found for £10-15 per year.
The domain name should be the same as the website title you have chosen. If the actual title is unavailable, try adding hyphens in between some of the words. Having a title, domain name and keyword phrase that are all the same is a very powerful SEO combination and will offer a serious advantage when it comes to gaining a good search engine rank.
There is a very famous saying that ‘Content is King’ and this is very true. Websites are nothing without content and search engines now place great importance on high-quality content that will be of value to their users.
The primary keyword should be used in the title of the page and should appear once in the first and last paragraph, and a few times in the main body. The amount of words on the page decides how many times the keyword should be used – the keyword phrase itself should only count for 5-7% of the total words in the content body, any more and it could appear as ‘keyword stuffing’.
The keyword phrases can be bolded, or italicized, for greater effect and search engines will pay more attention to these as a result. This means they will notice that the page is all about ‘cheap Taylor Made putters’.
The secondary keyword phrases, saved from the original research, can be used in the content and also used as topics for future content. If you decide to use a secondary keyword phrase – or new phrase entirely – to create a new page; use this new phrase as the title of the page. Every page of the website should have its own keyword-related title. This allows each page to rank for a separate keyword term and means more search engine exposure. Expand on the secondary keyword phrases by repeating your original keyword research and give yourself 3-4 alternative phrases to use in any new content.
Search engines are more intelligent these days and will expect to see related keywords terms, semantic content, synonyms and general topic that relates to the page title. This style of search engine algorithm is often referred to as Latent Semantic Indexing and is a search engines way of ensuring that the content matches the page title and description.
Content is often more user-friendly – and readable – when broken into smaller sections, with each section having its own heading. This is the perfect opportunity to use those secondary keywords as section headings. A main page title should be a H1 heading and the sub-headings should then be H2, if you decide to break each section into even smaller sections these headings can be H3, or H4.
It is vital that a website’s content is kept fresh. Content should be interesting, purposeful and valuable to readers. Search engines like to offer their users new content that answers their queries, so keep the content updated and try to find new interesting angles that is not available on other websites.
4. Meta and Alt tags
While Meta tags are not as important as they have previously been, there is speculation that they are set to regain their former influence and many search engines still rely on these tags for vital site information.
It takes no time at all to include Meta tags, so it makes sense to include them – especially the keyword and description tags. Meta tags are at the top of the HTML code of a webpage, in the ‘HEAD’ section and will look like this:
<TITLE>Cheap Taylor Made Putters</TITLE>
<META name=”description” content=”Find cheap Taylor Made putters in Texas – low prices, high standards.”>
<META name=”keywords” content=”cheap taylor made putters, taylor made cheap putters, low priced taylor made putters, cheap taylor made clubs, cheap golf clubs, cheap golf putters”>
As you can see, a short description for the site is placed in a Meta description tag and the keyword phrases go in the Meta keywords tag. The title is the actual title of the website, or webpage.
There is evidence that Google uses the Meta description in its results listing, so always add your keyword phrase in the Meta description. As stated, some search engines still use Meta tags to establish both the keywords and description for a site, so it is important to use these tags. Remember that Google is not the only search engine you want to appear in.
Alt tags are used to add a title, or keyword, to an image. The main header, and all images on a page, should possess an Alt attribute. This is a simple addition and involves a small piece of HTML code that is added to the images <IMG> tag (although some web design programs will have shortcuts to add Alt attributes to an image).
Inside the <IMG> tag, add:
ALT=”cheap taylor made putters” (or whatever keyword you wish to use)
Search engines read text, so it adding an ALT attribute to an image lets search engines know the images contained within the page are connected to the subject matter.
Links are a huge SEO topic. So this section on links has been split into the following categories: Anchor Text, Internal Links, External Links and Link Quality.
Both internal and external links should be looking to incorporate the use of keywords and they do this by relying on anchor text. This technique is for textual links but if an image is to be the link then the title and Alt tag of the image can serve as a keyword anchor. Try to avoid graphical navigational links as search engine crawlers can find these difficult to read and crawl.
Anchor text should be varied occasionally so that the primary keyword is not the only one been targeted. Look to create other links, using secondary keywords, so as to avoid any suspicion of keyword ‘spamming’.
A basic anchor-based link relies on HTML code and is formatted like so:
<a href=”The Website Name”>The Keyword</a>
Most web design software programs will have a shortcut function for adding links within text, or for turning words and sentences into links. It is crucial to use keywords in anchor text links because search engines will associate the link with that particular keyword phrase. This connection encourages search engines to rank a website for its selected keywords.
Internal links are used to guide a search engine, and visitors, around the website itself. They are not only important for internal navigation, they allow a search engine to crawl and index every page of the website.
A website homepage is the primary page and all other pages should link directly to this page. It is good SEO practice to choose a few secondary pages, which also contain important content, and add direct links to these secondary pages as well. Basically, each page in a website is assigned an importance and when a page links to another it lends some of its importance to that page. By linking all the weaker pages to the primary and secondary pages, these pages gain more importance. Building up the strength of the secondary pages means they can then pass on their increased importance to the homepage.
A well-organized hierarchical internal linking structure is essential for building overall website strength, increasing customer usability, and improving the website’s importance in the eyes of a search engine.
External links are formatted in the same fashion as internal links. These links rely on keyword anchors but they serve a slightly different purpose. In order to rank highly in organic search engine listings, a website must have a strong collection of topically relevant backlinks to the site.
A backlink simply refers to a link on another website that points directly to your site; this can be from a competitor’s website, a forum, a collection of blogs, directories, social media sites etc. There are many methods for obtaining backlinks and many companies make a lot of money by specializing in providing linking services.
To start with you can post on related blogs and forums that allow link inclusion, or utilize the power of social media (social networking site profiles, video marketing, submitting site content to social bookmarking sites etc). Another good link-building strategy is to submit articles to article directories and to other websites. External links are extremely important for achieving a good search engine rank.
There are two main types of backlinks: one-way and reciprocal.
A one-way link is a link from one website to another. A reciprocal link is when two websites link to each other. Reciprocal links are sometimes referred to as two-way links, or a link exchange.
Reciprocal links are usually easier to find as they benefit both parties concerned although one-way links are regarded by search engines as having more importance. With a one-way link, a search engine assumes that this is not simply a beneficial exchange; it is a vote of confidence from one site to another without ulterior motive.
Links from topically similar websites are superior, especially if the link comes from a site that has authority and a high quality score – although these links are harder to obtain. The structure of external linking should be similar to that of internal link hierarchy. The majority of links should point to the homepage, but a decent amount need to be directed to secondary and lower-category pages.
Links are a search engines map and they are a website’s route to good search engine rankings. The better the map and the more places on the map pointing back to a website, the easier it can be located by a search engine and the greater search engine exposure it will receive.
6. Shortcut to SEO
By following these 5 important SEO techniques, a new website will give itself every chance of earning a good search engine rank in the fastest possible time. SEO is a huge subject and can take years to master, but you do not have to learn everything all at once. These 5 SEO strategies alone are more than enough to fully prepare a new site for search engine inclusion.
Website optimization is constantly changing. New technologies and ever-changing search engine algorithms ensure that SEO never sits still. This guide is designed to assist a new developer create – and manage – an optimized website and ensure that website will be able to incorporate future SEO strategies and techniques, as and when they come along.