Intro to SEO

Everyone nowadays seems to be interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). On most of the interviews I went to recently I was asked… ‘Do you know SEO?’

On many occasions I ended up asking myself, Does that person know SEO? You see, the web works in a pretty simple way… There are 2 types of websites:

  1. Applications (Services): A website that provides some sort of a unique service or product (Like Facebook, Twitter, Google, MySpace, YouTube… etc).
  2. Content websites: A website that provides, Articles, Discussion Threads, and information in general (Forums, Blogs, Online Magazines… etc).
Some websites (Those who have products they want to promote or want to control the information you have about their products use a mix of both and the best example would be Microsoft.
Their websites (Or website’s they sponsor) are usually on top of the search results when you’re looking for a specific problem in one of their products… And that ladies and gentlemen is brilliant.
So the first type of websites (Apps) usually depend on the hype they’ve created to get people to know them. And their unique service to get people to comeback.
In some cases the fact that the hype never ends (as in twitter) gets people to come back.
So what does the second category do to get people to know about them?
Well… They pick a specific topic. And they create a lot of pages about that topic (In cases like forums, they depend on the users to do the writing).
If you don’t have hundreds of pages on your website, you will need some specific techniques to get people to find you. And the best way to get people to find you is appearing in their search results for the topic of your focus.

How do you do that?

We’ll these are the basic steps you need to do.
  1. You pick a keyword or a bunch of them that you want people to find with.
  2. You analyze and filter your keywords. Google AdWords to do that.
  3. Incorporate keywords into your website.
  4. Fix your website.
  5. Sometimes people actually forget to submit their websites to search engines. You can either do that yourself, or have a tool do it for you.

Details?

Pick a keyword or a bunch of them that you want people to find with.
Well, this depends on you, the editor or the person managing the website. For example in my blog I focus on Software, SEO and Entertainment (It’s my personal blog so I choose those topics).
But if you’re in printing business you might want to focus on Books, Magazines, Articles, Papers… etc.

What’s next?

Filtering those keywords.

Best way to do this is the Google AdWords keyword analyzer. for example, I tried analyzing the keyword ‘entertainment’, opened the ‘Advanced Options and Filters’ and selected United States as a target country and got this:

adwords-tool

which means, the keyword entertainment is searched for 16 million times across the world and 6 million times in the US, the competition is low. So this keyword is a good choice.

More related keywords are available below in case my website was just about entertainment, I’d be interested in those specific keywords.

Using those keywords

Now that you have your keywords, you need to put them into a good use. First of all you should select the most important ones and try placing them in the title and description of your home page.

Search engines are smart, really smart… So placing those keywords in pages with heading tags (h1, h2, h3… etc) means they’re very important to this page thus giving this page a higher rank for those keywords. Also, the more the keyword appears in your page the better. So try a page in my website titled entertainment gains a good rank for this keyword, and if the text heading had the keyword entertainment the page would gain a better rank. Next if the page had a lot of entertainment word count or entertainment related keywords, the rank will improve.

Simple, right?

Fixing your website

If you’re not a web developer or designer you’ll need help doing this. A good website with minimum html errors is a great website for search engines. You can use The W3 Validator to check your website for html errors.

You also need to make sure all your pictures and images have their ‘alt’ attribute set. This helps image search engines find your photos, which also increases the rank of your website.

One more thing is to check that your page headings use the h1 tag and that your pages have the meta description set.

You have to make sure that each page’s title is less than 70 chars and that its meta description is less than 140 characters.

What’s Next?

Make sure everything is actually working. Go to Google Webmaster Tools, add your site following Google’s instructions and wait for a couple of days.

Remember that Google has to follow up on billions of websites so it might take a while until they recheck your website. And it will take about 3 months until your website rank is changed.

After you see some activity on your Webmaster Tools account, be sure to check the “Diagnostics=>HTML suggestions” to see if any of your pages needs a fix.

What about other search engines?

Most search engines follow the same steps and checks as Google so if you work your website for Google other search engines will also index your website but keep in mind that Google is the search giant so what takes Google 2 or 3 weeks takes other search engines months.

Need more help?

You can use some service such as Attracta to help you submit your website and follow up on your site evaluation.