I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a webmaster or marketing person that ultimately I’m challenged on what it takes to implement a successful SEO campaign. Many times it starts with, “you just add a bunch of keywords to your meta tags and content” or “you just create a page for each keyword” or some other riduclous statement. As easy as it would be to just laugh or tell them good luck and walk out I seem to find myself instead taking the time to explain why their theories won’t work and really what the best path to take is.
With that in mind let’s take a very quick look at the very basics of good search engine optimization.
1. Keyword research – Take the time to find the keywords that are the most targeted for your website. Generic keywords are the first thing most people think they need for their site but the reality is most people don’t search for one word terms when they are motivated to take action.
2. Title tags – These are the most important of all of the tags. If you do nothing else to optimize your site, make sure you have a unique title tag for every page.
3. Meta tags – THe KEYWORD TAG IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT! In fact if you want to use the keyword tag place misspellings, zip codes, etc, in it. Your description tag is the second most important tag you can use. Use a unique description tag on each page.
4. Content – Content is King has been a mantra since I’ve been involved with SEO (circa 1997). Create content that is readable by a human using your keyword phrases naturally. If you try to create content for the search engines you will fail.
5. Internal linking – Make sure you have text links to every page in your site and that you link to pages within the content on your site. Hint, Click Here is not the best way to use a text link, think keyword phrase.
6. Code – Make sure your html and code is compliant and when possible reference your code instead of hard-coding it to your page.
7. Link popularity – Gain as many relevant links as you can because just like content, Links are King. Submit to web directories, create social profiles and update them regularly, write articles and submit them, issue press releases, create content that is compelling enough other websites will want to reference it, join forums and add your link in your signature, and post, post, post, be creative and above all … gain links.
8. Sitemaps – Create a user friendly html sitemap and at a minimum link to it from your front page. Create a xml sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and MSN Webmaster Central.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well then give it a try and soon you’ll find it’s not rocket science but it is hard work and just like anything else you won’t be successful without hard work.