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Search engine optimization for beginners

Written / updated by Thomas Skov Iversen
SEO search engine optimization

If you want to attract a lot of traffic/visitors it is a necessity that your pages can be easily found on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. A top position on your most important search engine keywords, will naturally result in higher traffic and thereby higher advert earnings. We recommend that you read the following points about search engine optimization, as it will help improve the visibility and readability of your website in search engines.


Definition: Search engine optimization is a well structured approach of improving your website rank in search engines, based on specific keywords important to your site.

A search engine determines your position on specific keywords by "crawling" and "scanning" your website content. Your content will afterwards be analyzed to see what your page is all about and based on that your position on different keywords will be determined. Lets say that you have written a long article about black cats. The search engines will then analyze your article and most probably index your page on the keywords "cats" and "black cats".

This means that when people search for "black cats", your page will be among the search results. Even though there are hundreds of different factors affecting how search engines will rank your pages, they fortunately all use some common determining factors. These have been listed according to their importance below.

In connection to this article it can be a good idea to read about link building as well.


1 - The keyword frequency

The most effective way of getting a high ranking on search engines, is by using your keywords within your body tag as much as possible. Key words are those words you want to be associated with when people make search enquires. If you for instance sell apples on your website, a keyword would be "apples", as you want to be found when people are searching for apples. Lets also take the cat example.

If you own a site about black cats, then it would be good SEO practice to use the wording "black cats" as much a possible in your text. The same goes for your headings ( <h1> ,<h2>...), where you can also benefit from using your keywords. You should however remember that writing a whole page filled purely with keywords, will be seen as spam by the search engines ( this is called keyword stuffing ).

In the same way, deliberately hiding keywords by using same font and background color, will also be revealed and labeled as spam. This type of SEO is called black hat SEO.




2 - The number of incoming links (links from external websites to your website)

Links pointing to your site is extremely important. Think of a link as a vote. The more votes your site gets, the more important and popular it will look in the eyes of the search engines. The more votes your website gets the higher it will be ranked on search engines. Who is voting for you is also important, as fore example Google consider votes from large and serious sites more valuable than votes from smaller sites.

We recommend submitting your website to www.dmoz.com, which is a large link directory - This is the first step in creating incoming links. The art of building incoming links is called link building - read more about it by clicking the link.



3 - The page title HTML tag

It is important that every page on your site is equipped with a unique title. The title should describe what your site is about. Try to make the title interesting and alluring, as it will be displayed in the search results.

A good title will stand out in the search results, and the likely hood of someone clicking it will therefore be higher. Lets take the black cat example again. A good title tag for such a page would look like this: <title> Black cats paradise - all you need to know about black cats </title> - Ok, that's not really interesting nor alluring, but hey, you get the point right? The title tag will also be displayed in the browser tab bar.



4 - Meta-tags

Meta-tags are not as important as they used to be, as some search engines don't use them anymore. Search engines such a Google will as an example not use the meta-tags when evaluating the site.

It is however a good idea to put them on your pages as some search engines such as Yahoo! still uses them. Below the different meta-tags have been create based on our fantastic black cat example:

<head>
<meta name="description" content="Pictures and descriptions of black cats, large knowledge database about black cats" />
<meta name="keywords" content="black cats, cats, single colored cats, dark cats, nice black cats" />
<meta name="author" content="Catty Blackwater" />
</head>

As shown, the meta-tags should be placed in your header. It is vital to always have key words in mind, when making meta-tags. Furthermore you should also seek to have unique descriptions on every page, as the description will be shown underneath the title in search results. In addition, keep the description under 160 characters!



5 - Alternative graphic text (ALT)

If your site contains a lot of pictures and a minimum of text, you should take advantage of the "ALT tag" . An ALT tag is a label you put on your pictures, to tell the search engines what the pictures are showing. "ALT" tags will not be shown on your site, but only read by search engine bots. For the last time lets look at the black cat example, to see what an ALT tag on a picture of a black cat could look like:

<img src="cat.gif" alt="A beautyful black cat" /> ( also remember key words in ALT tags ).


If you follow the advises given above, you will be well on the way to a good position in search results. But remember, that SEO cannot make your site popular - without good content no amount of SEO will get you to the top... Content is KEY!
Often it can be hard to get a clear picture of how your are doing in terms of your most important keywords. Fortunately there are programs/tools that are able to help you. You will find an article about one of them here. In addition you can read about how you get started profiting from your website with Adsense.


Sources: E-Business and E-Commerce management by Dave Chaffey



SEO search engine optimization

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