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25 Ways to Improve your SEO

Introduction to How to Improve your SEO Strategy

In this article we explore 25 ways to improve your SEO (Search Option Optimization) strategy by both implementing things that you should do, and avoiding things that you shouldn’t. Like getting hooked up with the wrong lover before it’s too late, you can easily get trapped into SEO no-no’s that seem very attractive at first glance.

Lately, there has been much talk about SEO or Search Engine Optimization. It simply means designing a website and developing the wording of its pages in such a way that a search engine will recognize that web page as relevant to a key word search. The more relevant the page is determined to be, the higher its ranking on the search engine results page. Besides keyword richness, search engines also consider popularity (or how many pages are linked to that page and how many hits it gets), page loading speed and how long the page and web site have been on the Internet.

To help you get started we are introducing you to 20 ways to help get a start on optimizing your website for the search engines.

Way Number 1 – Learn the basics of how search engines work

In order to understand how to best optimize your site for the search engines, let’s first go over the basics of how search engines index the Internet: crawling, indexing, and serving results. The process by which the search engine scans the billions of pages on the web is known as “crawling.” The search engine uses URLs from previous crawls to start a new crawl. As it is finishing a crawl, the search compiles the massive amount of information it has gathered into a giant index. The last part of the process is the serving results. This happens when the user enters the search query, which then sets off a process of searching the index by the machines to find what it determines are the best search results.

Way Number 2 – Don’t wear the wrong hat

“The problem is all inside your head.” You need to have the right attitude about your SEO strategy. Don’t try to get away with what is called black hat practices, they can get you banned from Google and other search engine searches.

Many other things go in to the decision making process of the search engines. In the past, many webmasters would implement unfair practices in order to get ranked high in Google and other search engines. For instance, some web owners were hiding keywords into the pages by inserting 1 point script into the same color background. The viewers would only see the normally written text, but not the jumble of extra keywords meant to fool the search engines. Such a practice is known as black hat.

Like the Grunge look, Black Hat practices have been out for the knowing SEO trend setters by the late nineties. By the late nineties, the search engines started wising up and built in features into their crawlers to catch such practices, and subsequently blacklist such sites.

Way Number 3– Structure your site properly

“The answer is easy if you take it logically” With the right SEO expert you can get guidance on the right structural logic to take in your website.

Having a well structured site with keyword rich pages that make since to the typical reader is the best way to start to gain favor from the search engines. There are technical aspects to be aware of that this article will get into later. If a web owner wants to take up SEO themselves, they can do that with the right kind of research done ahead of time and the attention to detail of the structure and wording of their sites. Experts on SEO can also be hired to optimize sites. SEO Experts for hire will save you time and you will benefit by their knowledge and experience.

Way Number 4 – Don’t hire the wrong expert

So what are some important things to consider when hiring SEO experts to optimize sites? They should be able to give you an idea of what kind of results to expect and give you a timeframe for seeing those results. Ask for successful examples of work performed for satisfied clients. Also ask if they offer other online marketing services. There should be a clear measure of success. If they have experience in your industry and your geographic area, then that is very helpful. How long they have been in business is important. Ask how they will communicate with you. Will they provide detailed information and recommendations for optimizing your site?

Way Number 5 – Listen to Google

Most important of all, they should follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines. The Google Webmaster Guidelines should also be on every webmaster’s and web owner’s must read list. It gives many helpful hints on how to design word and structure a site for the best search engine rankings. The guide gives out information as basic as where to submit a link, to detailing technical guidelines. The guide also tells you which SEO practices to avoid. You certainly don’t want your site to end up on Google’s blacklist by taking what may seem like a cleaver short cut to being top listed in the search engines.

Way Number 6 – Think user experience

Now let us talk about the core of good solid SEO practices. And, that is paying attention to content. When it comes to SEO, content is of the upmost importance. When it comes to search engines choosing your home page or interior page for that precious real estate of first page, the designers of the search algorithms think in terms of user experience. They want the search engine users to have a good experience with the top pages picked in relation to finding information related to a particular keyword phrase.

Way Number 7 – Don’t forget what you learned in English composition class

Just as you learned in school, have a good topic paragraph. The first paragraph is not only important to capturing the attention and interest of readers, but extremely important to search engine rankings. They give a lot of weight to the first paragraph, so don’t blow it! Computers are not smart enough to pick up on indirect cultural references, so make good use of keywords that signify what is to come in the page or article, much like you English 101 teacher did when teaching you how to write a topic paragraph.

Readers and search engines should have a good idea what a page is going to be about in the first paragraph. So hopefully you listened well in expository writing class when it came to writing a good topic paragraph. If not, get a hold of a writing 101 text book. Or you could search for “topic paragraph” or “thesis paragraph” in a search engine to learn more.

Way Number 8 – Remember “Content is King”

You have probably heard the phrase “Content is King,” if you have been doing much research on SEO. Well we are going to teach you another phrase which should be your mantra. “The reader is king.” And, we as web providers should do everything we can to create good experiences for our readers. This simply means using good expository writing techniques like providing a topic paragraph at the beginning of the page and a good topic sentence at the beginning of every paragraph along with supplying good information. The page should read smoothly and keyword appearances should feel natural.

Way Number 9 – Make it sticky

This brings up another topic related to content – page and website stickiness. It’s not enough to optimize the web page for the search engines, you need to get web users to stay on your page and explore other pages in the web site. Well crafted content, coupled with interesting graphics leads to adherence of your readers to your page. Well thought out tabs and internal links encourages viewers to further explore your site. You will also want to get creative with your tabs to pique the curiosity of your viewers. Web owners in the restoration business will want to have a “Before and After” tab to get viewers moving that mouse around your site. You need to think past the usual home, about us, and contact us tabs. And of course the content should live up to the expectations of the readers. Aim to exceed expectations. If you use a key word in the tabs or the links, have the content to back it up.
Give readers and search engine crawlers the expected content to match the keywords placed in your navigational scheme. All this leads to another lesson.

Way Number 10 – Don’t try to fool Google or the other search engines

There is another mantra to add to your repertoire of phrases to get the point across about the rewards of having integrity in producing content for readers. “You can’t fool Google.” And, it is not nice to fool your readers. Act with integrity when filling tags. Title tags certainly are given weight, but you must have the content to follow it up. Domain names certainly are given weight, but you must have the content to back it up. Gone are the days when could fool the search engines with a keyword in a title tag and a few sentences in a page. The mid nineties marked the end of rampant grey hat and black hat practitioners running rough shod over the Internet. In today’s Internet nice guys finish first. Or in other words, guys (or gals) who have integrity in their content offerings are looked favorably upon by the search engines.

Way Number 11 – Heed the ways of the King’s Queen

If content is king, then structure is the queen of SEO. Websites need to be well structured and easy to navigate in order to be rewarded with top page real estate. It should be easy to navigate around the site. I will talk more about structure later. But suffice to say, good content means nothing if it is not well organized.

Way Number 12 – Write for your audience

Another thing to keep in mind is what the king and queen of SEO are trying to attract, and that is audience. “Know your Audience” is another famous phrase and for good reason. A content writer needs to know that high fashion followers are going to relate to content differently than avid hunters. They use different phraseology and may react differently to different writing rhythms. You want to make your website popular for readers who happen upon it so that they will recommend them in their social networks. One good way of getting your web links shared is by having a lot of compelling interesting facts to grab the attention of your audience.

Way Number 13 – Don’t have a bouncy site

Directly related to way number 12 is not having a bouncy site. The bounce rate is the percentage of users that will leave the site after only viewing one page. This is a killer not only because you are not capturing the attention of your visitors, but Google and the other search engines will mark you down gravely for a high bounce rate. And it also most likely means the average time per visit will also be low, another SEO killer.

So what are some good tips for lowering your bounce rate? Well, have good content is obviously one important factor. However, as suggested above, knowing our audience is very important. Think about what the audience submitting a particular key phrase might be looking for. For instance, if you are trying to capture Internet users who are looking up sites on eBay, then you need to lead your landing page content with some solid information about eBay. You can then talk about your EBay offerings or your alternative to eBay.

Way Number 14 – Keep up with news of Google algorithms

Just as webmasters were getting to know Google’s Penguin algorithm, Google announced an even more advanced algorithm known as Hummingbird. It represents a new generation in search algorithms.
For those of you, fresh to the world of SEO, let’s first go over the change made in April of 2012, with advent of Google’s Penguin project, having unique content on each page and avoiding keyword stuffing has become ever more important. The Penguin project represented an ever increasing effort on Google’s part to create a meaningful rich experience for search engine users. The quality and key word relevance was made even more important in the Penguin era of Google. And, it was even more important to make the content of your title and description tags have a natural flow and not be too long. Remember that Google may use your description metadata for the description in their results. Beyond that, you want there to be go verbal context surrounding keywords in case Google takes snippets from the text to use for descriptions for their search results.

With Penguin, not only was content of an indexed page important for ultimate rankings, but also the content in the linked pages. So take care in how you choose your links in your pages.

In the fall of 2013 Google announced the advent of Hummingbird, which represents a new generation in search algorithms. Hummingbird was reported to have improved, dramatically, Google’s ability to provide natural speech search queries. Google calls it Hummingbird, because it is precise and fast.

Way Number 15 – Use tags wisely

Using Key Words in Subheadings and Other Tips about SEO Content
The following are some tips for writing good content for search engines:
Make lists when you have repetitive information.

  • Put keyword phrases within links, but not excessively.
  • Put keyword phrases in your alt tags.
  • Insert keyword phrases several times throughout the content of the page.
  • Have subheadings with H1 tags and well placed keywords

So remember in today’s SEO world, quality of content pulls in better ranking than simply focusing on quantity. The information just given on increasing SEO ranking through quality content should help you to make your web site more attractive to the search engines.

Way Number 16 – Put keywords in links

Another example of content being overlooked by search engines is poor linking strategy. If you think of your website like a library then links are the pathways to the different isles of stacks in your library. The search engines are like visitors to your library, but very important visitors – because they tell the human visitor to visit their favorite libraries. Having links made with JavaScript will act like don’t enter signs for the connecting pages. Or at least the spider will give the page less weight. If you want to use JavaScript for links then have html links accompany them. Once again HTML is a search engine spider’s best friend. Technologies like flash might make for exciting websites, but search engines can’t index it. Search engines will limit the number of link crawled per page. So excessive linking on a page means many pages will be ignored.

Way Number 17 – Have a good XML sitemap

Beyond good link structure lays a good XML sitemap. Think of it as the online catalog for the library of files that make up the website. The XML sitemap contains the URLs that the website owner wants the search engine spider to visit. For each URL in the sitemap there is a and tag. The tag contains information about the absolute URL. There are other tags you can add like which is like a virtual librarian recommending books on a scale 0.0 to 1.0. But, in this case the sitemap is recommending URLs. Google was the first search engine to start out using the tag, then the other major search engines followed suit. Use this high priority listings sparingly or the search engines will discount your recommendations. Another useful tag is the tag which indicates frequency of updating of an URL. And again, don’t abuse this tag. Lastly, there is the tag which indicates when the URL was last modified. Each sitemap is limited to 10MB and 50,000 URLs.

The XML sitemap should be in sync with the robots.txt file (this file lists the URLs the website owner does not want the spider to follow, such as print version pages, secure e-commerce pages, and duplicate content). If the XML sitemap contains URLs that are listed in the robots.txt file for exclusion, them the search engine spider is going to get mixed signals and credibility of the XML map will be lost.

Way Number 18 – Have good link structure.

As a website grows there is an increasing need for dropdown menus. Make sure that you build dropdown menus with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) instead of Flash or JavaScript menu systems. The latter two types of menu systems are difficult for search engines to follow. Also pay attention to the depth of your website. A website that allows for the linking to pages with only a few links is known as shallow website, which is the goal of website designers. A good internal link strategy is essential for a large website. If a website becomes deep (meaning that it has pages that need a lot of links to reach), a well structured drop down menu system might help. Put a rel=”nofollow” attribute into the tags of links to pages like privacy policy or terms and conditions.

Way Number 19 – Don’t abuse anchor text

Anchor text is very important to your link strategy. It is the words that appear in the highlighted link. Using keywords here will help your search rankings. But, don’t abuse this technique or you will subject yourself to the infamous Google smackdown and get shoved down the rankings or have your site disappear from the Google index.

So plan the structure of your site before you start building it. Think of all the information you might have and how to organize them into tabs. If you are building a big site then you are going to need a good CSS driven drop down menu system. In addition to a well structured menu system you are going to need a good internal link system. For rewarding SEO, see your website through the eyes of the search engine spiders by paying attention to the lessons of the preceding paragraphs about web structure.

Much of the talk about SEO on the Internet centers on the requirements and preferences of Google, but, of course, there are other search engines with significant market share of the searches which take place on the Internet. Google did still dominate the market in 2012 with 66.2% of the searches attributed to them. Bing came in at second with 15.2%. Yahoo was close behind Bing with 14.1%. The Ask network had 3.0%, and AOL had 1.6%.

Way Number 20 – Don’t use sloppy grammar or spelling

Matt Cutts, the spokesperson for Google’s SEO section, said that bad grammar does not send a “direct signal” to the search engine, but he suggested that the search engine’s ability to evaluate content will improve. Right now, the thing to consider is bounce rates. If visitors are turned off by your grammar, they may leave the page early and not return. These kinds of statistics can weigh heavily on your rankings. You need to have the right spelling of key terms in order to have them match up with the searches.

You could create separate landing pages for with common misspellings, if you feel that is going to be a factor.

Way Number 21 – Don’t use key words excessively

Key words should be in the title tags and in one H1 tag per page. Keywords can also appear in H2 and H3 tags, but there should be no breaks in the tags. In other words, if you have an H1 and H3 tag, you need a H2 tag to complete the set. Keywords should also be in the names of images, and the alt tags associated with the images. But, there is no magic percentage of keyword per article. The idea is to use as many keywords that is natural for the text you are writing. That is best way to approach it.

Way Number 22 – Optimize Your Images.

Images should be as small in Kb size as possible, with still keeping good resolution. See, “How to Optimize Image Files for the Web,” for more information.

Way Number 23 – Have a good Web Structure

All good content must reside in a well organized library. Imagine trying to sort through a collection of great movies with no informational sleeves. You would just have to hope you picked a movie you liked. This is something a video site owner should consider when trying to rank such a site. There needs to be a descriptive synopsis under each video so that the search engine spider knows what the site is about. This is just one example of how sites can be overlooked by the search engines. If content is king, then HTML is his vessel. If a site is very visual then descriptive alt tags should be employed.

Way Number 24 – Pay attention to the three Cs of writing good description meta tags

Make sure that your meta tag descriptions are Compelling, Concise and Cuts out unqualified visitors.

Now that you have an article or web page written well, placed within a good website file structure, and following the other rules outlined above, you are ready to write your description of your page. As talked about earlier there are a few tags in the section of the site to pay attention to. After the title tag – where Google now looks for the main key word or keywords of the page, instead of in the keywords meta tag as they did before – the description meta tag is the most important.

Your “descriptions” are most likely where Google and other search engines will look to for producing the short description under each search result. Although the search engine may use a snippet from your text body for the description under a search result. In that case the snippet will be from a part of your text that falls within a good context of the keyword or keyword phrase.

Way Number 25 – Have plenty of back links to your site

In this article we have mostly talked about “on-page SEO,” however “off-page SEO” has become very important. As a result Google and the other search engines take a strong look at the popularity and the authority of your website. They determine this, in large part, though the quality and quantity of links from other websites to your website. The more authoritative the website linking to your site the better.

You don’t want to use a link farm or other short cuts to getting a lot links to your site. The on-page factors are still important, because other website owners will want to connect to a quality site. So sending out press releases is one way to get quality back links, and guest blogging is another.

You can also let the website know that you have linked to, in the hopes that they will reciprocate.

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