Understanding and implementing basic search engine optimisation practices can literally make or break your website or blog. Search engines can provide a constant stream of visitors. But if you do not follow best practices, the search engines will not love you and you are likely to receive very little traffic from them.
This is the first part in a series on SEO. In this part, I will discuss onsite SEO. Onsite SEO refers to the techniques that you employ on your site to optimise it for search engines.
Think carefully about the theme of your site. It is generally easier to rank well if your site is focused on a particular niche, rather than a broad range of topics. Search engines will find it easier to understand what your site is about and you are much more likely to become an authority for that niche.
The navigation structure is important to your visitors and search engines. Break your sites content into common sense sections. Each section should have its own directory with relevant pages inside the directories. If possible, use keyword focused directories. Ensure that it is easier for your visitors to navigate between each section and to page within a section.
Keyword focused pages
Each page should focus on just a few keywords or key phrases. If possible, focus on one main keyword and two or three sub keywords. Keywords can be a phrase rather than just one word. In fact, you are more likely to rank highly for a phrase than a single keyword.
Keywords in the URL
Include the main keyword in the URL of the page.
Use heading tags to emphasis your keywords. If you have a main keyword that you are targeting for a page, include that in your main heading. This should be the h1 heading, as that is deemed to be the most important. Break your page into common sense chunks and use h2 and h3 headings as the title for sub topics.
Image Alt Tags
Search engines can only read text. They can not read an image. Therefore, it is important to use alt tags for every image. Search engines will read and index the alt tags.
Keywords in the Content
Make sure you include your target keywords in the actual content. However, do not over use them, as this will be seen as spam. So use common sense. And remember, your article is aimed at humans, so write it for humans first and search engines second.
Due to spamming efforts, search engines do not place a massive importants on meta tags. But do pay some attention to them.
Title Meta Tag
The title meta tag is the most important. This is simply the title of the page and it should be descriptive and contain the main keyword.
Description Meta Tag
The description meta tag should accurately describe the content of the page. This will often appear in the search engine results, so make sure it is appealing to your target market. They may decide to on which site to visit based on its description.
Keywords Meta Tag
Using the right keywords here probably won't increase your ranking, but anything that is deemed as spam will hurt you. So do not repeat any words in the keywords meta tags and do not include any words that are not actually included in the content of the page.
Make sure you have a site map that includes links to every page on your site. Even better, invest the time in setting up a Google Sitemap. This will dramatically increase chances of Google and Yahoo indexing all the pages on your site.
Do not be afraid to link to other sites. Your readers will appreciate it if you help them find further information. Try and include keywords in the anchor text of the outbound link.
Linking to authority sites is also deemed to help your rankings.
Link to other relevant pages within your site. Use relevant and keyword focused anchor text. This will help the ranking of the page you are linking to as it will count as an inbound link.