The average user’s introduction to SEO

Search Engine Optimization, what exactly is it?

In short, SEO is the act of optimizing your website or websites to rank well in major search engines such as Google. When done well, SEO can bring you more traffic, more revenue, and allow your site to be more frequently crawled by their web spiders.
SEO is not only referred to as Search Engine Optimization, it is also referred to as Search Engine Optimizer (the person who is doing the optimizing).

How do I go about optimizing my website to rank better in search engines? Easy, grasp some simple concepts and you can be jumping up the search rankings in no time.

Original/Quality Content

This is one of the major variables to help you gain a better search ranking. Your content should be high quality, original, and worthy of being read. Any SEO is aware that the quality of your content is highly important and this can not be stressed enough.

Innovation/Creativity

Okay, this may not be as commonly executed but think about it this way. You’ve created such a “fresh” website that major tech news sites and webpage recognition sites just can’t stay away from talking about you. If done well, this can certainly bring you a substantial amount of backlinks.

Avoid query strings in URLs (Dynamic URLs)

Often people fail to notice the importance of limiting their URLs to something that looks static or “permanent” to search engines. Think of an URL as that specific content’s address on the internet. If major search engine are unable to have something permanent or long term to index, why would they bother?

When creating a website, make sure you avoid links that contain query strings such as “php?id=123”. This shows that the content is randomly called on-the-fly from a database according to the query, thus the content is not static and would not be much of importance to search engines. To rewrite your URL into something more search-engine-friendly such as “/content/article-on-SEO”, enable the mod_rewrite setting or the rewrite_module to tell the server how to handle links. For more information on using the .htaccess file, try the articles over at http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/htaccess.html.

Keep flash content to a minimum

Many people who start to learn how to code websites come across websites designed in flash every once in a while. It is a common mistake for beginners to marvel at the beauty of flash webpages being interactive, full of movement and just breathtaking. If you choose to include flash content on your website, keep in mind that it is harmful to your SEO, and keep it to an absolute minimum. Flash content is not like html where you can add meta tags, its primary purpose is merely to enhance user experience.

Limiting the use of AJAX (if any)

Yes, everyone knows implementing AJAX technology helps enhance user experience. However, since AJAX is loaded dynamically, this means search engines are unable to index it. Another downfall of AJAX is that it does not reload the URL, any content a user may want to link to will not be shown as they viewed it, potentially causing frustration and decrease in traffic.

Never have empty alt tags

Web crawlers only crawl text, not images. Therefore if website ranking is of any importance to you, you should not be forgetting to include alt tags in any images. Alt tags are the only way for web crawlers to “read” your image. Alt tags should be descriptive, but not long. Try to keep any alt tags to a 4 words max. Also avoid using an image to show a large document unless you do not wish for it to be crawled.

Create relevant links

If you’ve been talking about an event or product everywhere in your article, and you say something like “Read more about it HERE”, we all know that HERE is about the product thus clicking on the link should lead us to more information about the product. However, computers are not humans, there is no such thing as “logic” in machine language, it’s “I’ve been coded to follow this format, so I do this. No questions asked”.  If you link to a product page with the word HERE, the web crawlers will attribute the content in that link with HERE, and of course, HERE itself tells us nothing at all. Always link to another page or site using 2 or 3 words that describe what is there or else you may be losing some valuable attention from search engines! =(

Frequently link to others and don’t hesitate to link within your site

You may be thinking, the more backlinks I have, the higher chance of an increase in my ranking. So maybe I should never link to other websites to prevent giving a higher ranking making it harder to rank well myself? Despite the logic, this will definitely not be beneficial to you. What your readers are seeking is probably information and news. If your site is unable to provide certain information not within your niche, you should allow your readers the freedom and benefit of exposing them to other information. The internet contains a great wealth of knowledge, if you refuse to allow your readers a convenient way of obtaining relevant information, they will do it themselves. Besides, linking to others is also a way of interactivity and who knows, maybe you’ll get to make some friends or partners that way.
It is also important to refer your readers to other pages on your site that they otherwise may not be easily exposed to. Often you’ll find that something you’re writing about is closely related to another post on your website, so why not tell them and allow your readers more knowledge? Internal linking is also helpful for web crawlers to crawl your site if your content is linked in a web-like manner, just don’t over do it.

Include a sitemap

Last of all, always remember to include a sitemap. Sitemaps basically show all the links on your website in a simple, yet organized manner. Having a sitemap can allow a web crawler to quickly and efficiently index your website and possibly index isolated pages that they might otherwise not find. There are a couple of sitemap generators that can be found online, if you do happen to get a sitemap for your site, don’t forget to notify Google Webmaster Tools of its presence!

Note: I have not discussed tags or keyword targetting in this article as they should only be considered after the points  above are well practiced.

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About the author

for3v3rforgott3n is a programmer, graphics artist, web designer and internet security expert.

Website: http://technewsgalore.com

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