SEO Simplified

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a very complex process. People make a living doing SEO work for other individuals. Entire companies exist that tout the best SEO practices. Well, for the simple minded, for the not so wealthy, and just for the interested, let’s break down what SEO really is and what simple steps you can take to help out your own site.

Okay, first a definition. Simply put, Search Engine Optimization is an attempt to get your website higher up on search results run by Google, Yahoo, et cetera. Why is this important? Don’t you want visitors!?! Search engines are the best marketing tool out there. You’ll never come close to getting more direct or referral traffic than search traffic to your website (unless you are as big as say facebook.com for example). Even the biggest of businesses such as Amazon.com still rely very heavily on search traffic. So how can you push yourself higher on those results?

Well, there are countless articles out there trying to tell you how to perform SEO. I’m not saying you should listen to me, in fact, I consider myself a novice when it comes to SEO, but I do have a few easy suggestions that just about anyone can do.

1. Make sure to set up a redirect between the www and non-www version of your website. Search engines see http://www.example.com as a different site than http://example.com. If you set up a permanent redirect, then search engines will bump you up higher, links to your site will be consistent. Here is a great tutorial on it.

2. Register with sites like dmoz and yahoo and zoominfo. These sites are essentially listings of websites and companies and people. Being listed on these helps show search engines that your website is essentially more reputable than websites not listed there. Yahoo costs money, but dmoz is free. Hurry up though, it can take months for them to get you on the list!

3. Write a BLOG!!! I know, ironic right? The reason that I started this blog in the first place was to drive more traffic to my site. Sites with blogs have tons more content, and because the content is constantly changing and updating, it is much more likely to pop up in search results. Even more than that, people might start bookmarking your blog posts on sites like del.icio.us and digg.com. Bookmarks on these sites can drive hundreds of visits in under an hour once they are posted. Also, when there are bookmarks to your site from these websites, search engines use that as another form of validation that your content is useful, just like being listed in those conglomerate sites mentioned above.

4. Get lots and lots of links to your site. The more links that exist on the web to your site, the better. Search engines see those links as even more validation for your content. Try establishing relationships with other businesses you work with on a regular basis and get them to link to your site in return for a link to theirs. Make a facebook page for the website with a link. Anything that will add more links to your site out there in the web is good!

5. Lots of content, that you update, with good header tags. Google is known to use the content of a website to determine what is on it. Go figure right? In the past, all search engines used the Meta Keyword and Description tags, but then people started stuffing their tags with thousands of unrelated words in hopes of landing on tons of search results. As a result Google, and many other search engines have followed suit, do not use them anymore. Stick to under a dozen keywords, and then just pay attention to your content. Having useful header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc), lots of good content, preferably that you update, and purposeful images will do wonders.

6. Check out Marketing Grader. This site will help you keep track of your progress. As with any of these tools, take it with a grain of salt, but so far, this is the best one I’ve found on the web. The same company previously ran Website Grader which was solely focused on SEO, and then they expanded that tool to including other marketing techniques like social media. They can offer some good ideas toward better SEO and marketing though, so check it out.

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