What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Management (SEM) refers to the practice of optimizing your website for search engine rankings. There are “white hat” ways of doing it, which are highly recommended. These include things like making sure search engines can view your content properly, that your website is search engine friendly and can be crawled by search engines. There are “black hat” ways of doing it, such as link farms which are NOT recommended. These will get you banned from Google and other search engines, and are definitely not worth it. If you’re not familiar with all the terms, see Internet Marketing Terms for a glossary on what these internet marketing terms mean.
What do search engines look for?
When it comes to search engines, CONTENT IS KING!
Search engines look for quality content that is relevant and useful to users. This is why quality content should be your main goal. With quality content (and a few tips on optimization) you’ll be on your way up the search engine rankings and getting lots of traffic.
Good content will help your on page factors AND your off page factors.
On Page Factors for SEO
Keywords in Title
This is one of the simplest factors but also most important. Think about it, what is your webpage about? The title usually describes the content, and search engines believe this as well.
Words in the Post
Avoid over-using this. Some people who try to rank for “chicken soup” for example will use the “chicken soup” keyword 10,000 times on the same page, essentially repeating the word whenever possible. This looks spammy, and reduces users’ experience. Search engines want to show quality content to users, so they will penalize websites that do this. Generally I recommend using the keyword in your page, especially in section headings and at the beginning/end of each page.
Use descriptive filenames and titles for images. Avoid “img-120421016.jpg” which doesn’t really describe anything. Instead use “easy-chicken-soup.jpg” as a filename with title of “Easy Chicken Soup looks like this” as the title. This shows search engines that your picture is about chicken soup.
Some search engine experts recommend bolding certain keywords like search engine optimization. The community is mixed about how important this is, but when used appropriately (like at most once per page) it doesn’t hurt.
Off Page Factors for SEO
Off Page Factors are factors that are not on your webpages that affect your search ranking. The most important factors are backlinks and domain authority.
Backlinks are simply links to your webpage from other websites and webpages.
When people link to your webpage, Google and other search engines think that people like your content and are recommending it. This makes search engines think you have good quality content, and hence will rank your website better.
Make sure that internalLy on your blog/website that you link to yourself! For example, I link to Internet Marketing Terms which is also another page in my website. This helps transfer backlink power within my own website.
Again, this is why content is king. Good quality content will make people want to link to you, which helps your search engine rankings.