Search Engine Optimization or SEO has become one of the most important ways of marketing products and services, as well as attracting website visitors. Simply making a blog or website is not enough to attract visitors. This is because a website requires complete on-page and off-page optimization to become search engine friendly. Hiring an SEO service can be both risky and expensive, as many SEO experts can end up getting your site de-indexed (removed) from search engines due to unethical Black Hat SEO techniques. On the contrary, one can easily optimize a website with little knowledge of some SEO basics.
Introduction To Search Engine Optimization
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization can be narrowly described as the process of improving the search visibility of a website or web page to rank among the top search results. SEO entails both on-page and off-page optimization. On-Page optimization includes looking after Meta tags, keyword density, ensuring that your website has unique, non-plagiarized content, managing No Follow and Do Follow links, etc.
Beginners Guide To SEO
While most of the aforementioned may appear as technical jargon that is hard to grasp by lay users, here are a few simple tips to help you optimize your website on your own. It is worth pointing out that these tips may be especially useful for people who use the WordPress platform or are running their own blog.
Start With An Optimized Platform
Some platforms such as WordPress and Joomla are good for SEO and starting with such a platform can always give you a head start. Many people can get confused about the WordPress platform and WordPress.com website, which are two completely different things. While the WordPress website provides ready-made templates to make blogs, you can make a more professional looking blog by acquiring hosting space, a domain and deploying WordPress. Many hosting providers offer single click setups for deploying WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Zen Cart, etc.
Apply An SEO Optimized Theme
Many SEO optimized themes (free and paid) are available for numerous platforms. One of the most famous among them is known as the Thesis Theme (for WordPress). After you deploy Simple Scripts or some kind of single click setup, you will be provided with a default theme which can be easily replaced by a custom theme (e.g. in WordPress). The point is that once your site is up and running, it will be worth buying an SEO optimized theme (if you can’t find one for free). Such a theme will come with various instructions and will require basic configurations to make your blog SEO optimized. You can search for terms like “Canonical links” when you come across Theme Settings. This can help you learn about the features that you should enable or disable during the configuration of your theme.
Post Useful And Regular Content
If you have a blog, one of the most essential ways of making it a success is to post relevant and useful content, which should be in line with your blog’s basic theme (main idea). For example, if you have a Technology blog which covers Android and iOS apps, then you should stick to the basics and should not cover unrelated topics such as perhaps “Move Reviews”. Doing so can get your site penalized by Google and might also result in disapproval from by ad-programs such as Google AdSense. They say “Content is King” and the right content can rank you higher than you can expect. Good content is always:Unique
- Attention grabbing
- Free of errors
- Provides useful information
- Has relevant links
Plugins And Meta Tags
You can use a number of plug-ins to optimize and beautify your site. This can include plug-ins to add social media sharing buttons, to configure SEO optimization settings, to add a useful widget, etc. Also make sure that you use tags to increase page views and to provide useful information to users. For example, when you write a post about Android, you can add the tag “Android” and also hyperlink it within the content. When a users click such a hyperlink, they will see all related posts which have the tag “Android”.
Bing And Google Webmaster Tools
Submit your sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. This way Google and Bing will crawl your sitemap and index your pages. Since Yahoo also uses Bing to provide its search results, the chances are that your site will also start showing up in Yahoo search. Webmaster sites also provide useful information about crawling errors, de-indexed (removed) pages, site health, malware alerts and more.
Note: Before you can submit your sitemap, you will have to verify your website. Simply follow the verification instructions given by Google and Bing after you sign up.
Google Webmaster Tools Sitemap Submission
- Login to Google Webmaster Tools
- Go to Optimization -> Sitemap and submit your sitemap.
Bing Webmaster Tools Sitemap Submission
- Login to Bing Webmaster Tools
- Go to Configure My Site -> Sitemaps
Sitemap Example: If you don’t know how to make a sitemap, then you can simply use a plug-in to make one. An example of a sitemap can be seen here: www.wmlcloud.com/sitemap.xml.
You can use a number of visitor tracking services such as Google Analytics and Histats to track incoming visitors. Keeping an eye on your website’s traffic and to know which webpages are being regularly visited by users can help you further improve keyword density and produce website content that is more relevant for your target market.
One of the most important factors to get a Google Page Rank and to improve search engine visibility is to build high quality “Do follow links”. When you write content and people link to your site (link back), your website grows in value. The more quality “Do Follow” link backs you have, the better your website will rank. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to build quality links so here are a few tips to help you build links.
Do Follow Links: Links that pass link back juice to sites they link to.
No Follow Links: A link that has the no follow attribute and do not pass link back juice.
To find out whether the links you are getting are Do Follow or No Follow, you can use the following methods:
1. No Do Follow Extension For Firefox: This Firefox extension highlights No Follow links in Pink and the Do Follow ones in Blue (see below screenshot).
2. You can also use the SEO Quake Extension (For Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari), which strikes our no Follow links.
3. Alternatively, you can right click on a page and select View Source and look for No or Do Follow attributes.
Guest Posts: You can write guest posts on blogs that allow guest authors to write posts for them. Such blogs often allow adding a link to your website in your Author’s Profile.
Tip Blogs: If you just covered a breaking news or exclusive guide, you can use the tips section or official email address of similar websites to tell them about it. In case they cover the same news or tip after seeing your “Tip”, they will link back to your website which can give you quality links.
Forums: Another way of making quality links is to get active on social forums and informing users about your website which may have relevant information. Do not spam link but only provide them where they may appear relevant and also make sure that you read and comply with the forum guidelines. Ideally, your links should be shared by other website visitors who might find them useful and share them on social forums on their own.
Directory Submissions: This needs to be done very carefully since Google has penalized many low quality directories. If you have a Technology Blog, the best directory to submit your website to is Technorati. By submitting your website to relevant directories you can get quality back links, recognized by search engines and build website authority. Here are a few useful directories that you can submit your blog or website to. You may need Google Translate for Yandex and Baidu.
Note: Do not submit your website or blog in an unrelated category, try using a fresh description each time you submit your website to a directory, do not re-submit to directories (unless your request is rejected and you are asked to try again after making relevant changes).
Useful Directories: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Bloglines, Yandex, Baidu, Dmoz, Technorati, Globe Of Blogs, Blog Rama, BlogCatalog, Blogrernity, Blog Digger (RSS), Ice Rocket, Blog Flux, Entire Web, Exsact Seek, ActiveSearchResults, Blogs Collection and Info Tiger.
One of the best ways of naturally acquiring search visibility is to share your webpages and posts across social media websites. Websites that are shared more commonly across social networking websites are more valued by search engines are likely to see a rise in traffic. Here is a few social media websites that you can be useful in promoting your website.
Popular Social Media Websites
- Facebook (Create Your Business Page)
- Google Plus (Create Your Business Page)
- YouTube (See WML Cloud YouTube Channel)
- Vimeo (See WML Cloud Vimeo Channel)
- My Space
- Friend Feed
Website To Curate Category Specific Content
- Scoop IT
Social Networking And Blog Feed
- Fuel My Blog
One of the biggest advantages of social media websites is that you can also increase indexing for your website if your post is widely shared. For more information about how to benefit from social media, see this post: How To Promote Your Website With The Help Of Social Media.
Check For Broken Links
Broken links can badly damage your website in many ways. To keep your website’s broken links in check, see instructions here: What Are Website Broken Links And How To Fix Them.
Things To Watch Out For When Optimizing A Website
When considering the optimization of your website, you should watch out for the following factors:
- Robots.txt file
- Broken Links
- Code to Text Ratio
- Keyword Analysis
- Meta tags
- Meta Description
- A Good Page Navigation System (e.g. menu, side bar, website layout)
- Duplicate Pages
- Remove Empty Pages
- Average Page Loading Time
- Cross Browser Compatibility
- Canonical URLs
- Non-optimized URLs
- Back Link Analysis (Number of No Follow And Do Follow links)
Keep Track of Changing Algorithms
If you want to make sure that your website does not see a drop in rankings or is able to sustain good rankings, then you should always keep track of changing Google algorithms like Panda and Penguin. To understand how to keep your SEO policies in line with Google’s guidelines and to get overview of Penguin and Panda algorithms see this post: How To Avoid Getting Penalized By Google Penguin And Panda Updates.
Avoid Shortcuts And Comply With Google Guidelines
Shortcuts in getting your site ranked are likely to be a part of Black Hat SEO techniques which can get your site permanently removed from the Google index. Stick to acceptable standards and avoid looking for shortcuts. It is worth building natural, quality links by methods like guest blogging or tipping other websites instead of trying to get on top of ranking by contacting link farms or websites that sell links. Never take part in link exchange programs no matter how attractive the offer may appear. Doing things the right way may seem tedious and slow in providing you with returns but every time there is a Penguin or Panda update you will be sleeping a lot more comfortably.