One of the most important topics of our day (for website admins, anyway) is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. This is the practice of optimizing a website for search engine results. There is much to say about this – and, frankly, much that is unknown. Exactly how search engines work is a tightly guarded secret. In fact, Google has been known to make changes to their algorithm if crucial information is ever discovered.
That said, there are some things that we do know, and some important, basic steps that you can take to improve your search engine results.
Links from others sites are essential – possibly the most important factor – in boosting your search engine results. But more than just getting links, the word being used to link to your site is also relevant. Here’s an example. “Check out a funny site on burgers here” vs. “Check out this funny site on burgers.” In the first example the site that is linked will be associated with the word “here,” while the second with “burgers.”
You can use this to your advantage by linking to yourself with important keywords. When you write a new post about something, in this case burgers, do a quick search for other sites that discuss the same topic and comment on those posts. Don’t be spammy, you should always add some value, but be sure to add a link to your site using the keyword you want to capture. “I absolutely LOVE their burgers. In fact I just finished a review of these delicious burgers on my site.”
You can also use “deep links” – links on your own site to older articles – to target keywords. Deep links won’t raise your “page rank,” but do help with keyword association. Here’s an good usage example. “I recently wrote about burgers, fries, and shakes. In today’s post on junk food I look at Potato Chips.
Bold and Italics
In the last example I bolded the term “potato chips.” That’s because search engines give more weight to bolded and italic words, figuring if they’re important enough to bold then they must be a key part of the post.
The unfortunate thing is that people often write how they speak. Learn to write for search engines. Example: You may say, “This is important: always backup your database!” – you would likely naturally emphasize “this is important” because you want the person you’re speaking with to pay attention to what is said after it. However, in the world of SEO you want that sentence to be, “This is important: always backup your database!”
The more often a word appears on the site overall, or within a post, the more your site, or that post, will be related to that keyword in search results. However, don’t just add the word 1000 times to the end of each page. That’s a sure-fire way to get ignored by search engines. If you want to come up in search results for “burgers” then you should simply talk about burgers, a lot. Just like I’m talking a lot about search engine optimization, today. After all, search engine optimization is an important topic.
Titles and Headings
More than word repetition and bolding, the titles and headings have a powerful effect on search engine optimization. The title of a page is the text between the <title> tag in the code, and appears on the top of the web browser window. On my site it’s always “The title of the post/page being viewed – Category – Jonamerica.com” Other common examples are, “title by author on site” Or title in category – site” etc. However you title your page, always have the most important keywords in the title.
Headings are used within the page. The main title of the post on the site should always be an H1 tag (WordPress, and other CMS systems, are designed to do this automatically). This helps reinforce the keywords for that page. Then, use other heading tags (H2-H6) appropriately through the rest of the site. Nothing should be as important as H1. Again, all headings should include important keywords.
A Meta tag is a tag that allows you to tell search engines additional information. The keyword meta is where you can specifically tell search engines what you think are the keywords for a post. While it’s pretty clear that search engines don’t give these meta keywords much weight, it’s good practice to use them to reinforce keywords.