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10 Search Engine Optimization Tips That Actually Work

10 Search Engine Optimization Tips That Actually Work

You want to give your ranking a spanking? Well, it’s a long way to the top if you wanna SEO.

Okay, the “SEO/Rock ‘n Roll” rhyme is a bit wonky. Angus Young will probably fly out to Maui specifically to kick my ass, but the sentiment is still true. Getting to the top is “harder than it looks”, to further mangle the AC/DC metaphor. But obviously, someone knows how – it’s not like the first returns on Google are blank, or have a big sign saying, “Sorry, you’re not cool enough for this spot.” So the question is, how is it done and how do I get there? Well you have come to the right shop because Steve is going to give you the low down on the up high.

Basically there are two major components to SEO. The murky alchemists who specialize in this field call them “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO.” On-page SEO has to do with optimizing the content and code actually on the page – see how clever these guys are? Off-page SEO has to do with tasks you perform…wait for it…off the page, or outside your site. These techniques include link building, bookmarking , social media exposure and other activities that help give your site relevance and popularity.

On-page SEO is always the first step in optimizing your site so we’ll start our list there.

1. Know your key words

Make yourself a list of 10 key words or phrases (2 or 3 words) that you want your site to rank on. Start your list with your most important key words or phrases and work your way down. BE REALISTIC. The keyword “Facebook” is kinda tied up. Do the research and find the words that people use to find the stuff you sell, talk about, pitch, evangelize or pontificate upon in your site.

2.Use your key words in your titles

Pick one or two of your key words and use them in your titles. Titles should not exceed 55 characters in length. If you use WordPress, this content would go in your title field. If you are doing your own html markup, this is the content that goes in the <title> tags on your site. This is by far the most important step. Why? Because the page title is what all the major search engines display in their returns. Furthermore, be absolutely certain that the page title accurately describes the content of the page itself. If your title is “Free Beer for Everybody!” but your page is all about extracting bellybutton lint, the search engines will banish your site to the millionth page purgatory.

3.Use sub-headings

Search engine bots, the software that “crawls” your site and indexes the content, love a well structured page. Sub-headings that describe relevant content are yummy for the bots. Use heading tags – <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc – to give both the reader and the bots a “heads up” as to what the next section of your article or content contains. Be sure and sprinkle some keyword sauce on those.

4.Use your keywords in your content

Duh. You might ask why this is not number one. Well, you should know what your key words are first. Next, you don’t need to put all your key words on one page or section of your site. Just a few of the relevant ones. There’s that word “relevant” again. Don’t try to fool the bots with long lists of key words. It makes them angry, and angry bots are more judgmentally punitive than a Catholic grade school nun who just found your Playboy stash. “SEO Experts” go on about “keyword density,” the science of ratios between keywords and content and blah blah blah. Bottom line: make sure your content reads well and key words appear several times.

5.Alt attributes should be used whenever images are displayed

When it comes to pictures, bots are blind. They have no idea what your picture looks like. To make life simple for the bots, be sure your image tag s have an alt attribute that describes the image and uses keywords. For example, let’s say you have a great picture of your bellybutton lint extractor that you use on your site. The image tag should have an alt attribute like this:

<img src=” /images/bbcleaner.png” alt=”Bellybutton lint extraction make easy” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

If you are using a CMS like WordPress just fill in the text on the form field that says “alt” or something like that when embedding an image.

6.Use well formatted, syntactically correct markup

Googlebot would rather have a proctological exam than try to parse your endless nested paragraph tags. Don’t clutter up your page with a bunch of poorly coded markup. Use external style sheets and JavaScript files.

7.Use description and keyword meta tags…maybe

There’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not meta tags are important in SEO. Keyword meta tags probably don’t carry much juice anymore, but the description meta tag is often used by Google in the actual returns themselves. In my opinion that alone makes them worth the time.

8.Get other sites to link to yours

…then find a cure for cancer and guide the planet to world peace. Ok, “Get other sites to link to yours” makes it sound so easy. All ya gotta do is get harvard.edu to link to your site, and you’re golden (some people say backlinks from .edu sites carry more clout) . Let’s face it, not only is this hardest part, it is also the most important in regards to ranking. The reasoning is that the more sites point to yours, the more authoritative your content must be (cloudy logic when you consider how many people link to Fox News). Some people write articles for other sites in exchange for a link, which can be very helpful if you’re writing for the right site. But be careful! Do not plagiarize or duplicate any other article or content that appears on the web, even your own. Googlebot hates clones. It’s a one way ticket to the earlier-mentioned millionth page purgatory. Anyway, Chumming for backlinks is a long, dull, arduous process, but you should spend a little time on it every week.

9.Put key words in your anchor text

When you are writing an article or “swapping links” with another site, be sure to use your most important keywords in the anchor text. The anchor text is the text that gets underlined in the link itself. You want to be sure your awesome keywords are right there in the clickable area.

10.Get social

Garnering a net-buzz through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is more important than ever. “Likes” have rank juice, as do tweats with links back to your content. We could go on for hours about this but you get the point. You need a Facebook page with lots of friends, and a twitter account with lots and lots of engaged followers.

That’s the whole enchilada in a nut shell – nice cliché mash. Obviously, the on-page stuff is a little easier to tackle than the off-page stuff, but awesome content speaks for itself. In the end, high-quality in-demand content is going to find its audience. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments.

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