The 7 Points of Do-It-Yourself SEO
by Gordon Goodfellow
Ever felt intimidated at the convoluted, jargon-ridden information
about Internet marketing for small businesses available on
the Net? Ever been horrified by the huge fees the experts
charge, putting search engine optimization beyond your own
means? Ever thought: What exactly is search engine optimization
anyway, and can I do it myself?
The answer is: Yes, you can! The basics of search engine optimisation
in applied web marketing are simple. It's all to do with the
keyword content of your text copy, and can be summarised in
1. Register a good domain name which reflects what your site
is about. Even if you are an established business, don't register
www.FredJones.com if you make widgets. Rather, you want to register
something like www.BestWidgets.com because that would inspire
confidence in people looking for quality widgets who would not
necessarily have heard of Fred Jones the widget-maker.
2. Name your page URLs based on reasons similar to the above
for your web promotion, except now you can be more specific.
Search engines like to know what your page is about. Name a
page after a product (BigYellowWidgets.htm) or a service or
action (Buy-Widgets-by-Post.htm) on one of the sales pages.
3. The text in the title tag is crucial in letting search engines
know what each page is about. Put your important keywords in
your title tags, using both the singular and plural versions
(people will search for both) and make these tags different
and specific for each page. For example, "Widgets and After
Sales Widget Services". Whatever you do, don't call the
home page "Index", but treat it almost as a mini-description.
4. The other tags (at the top of the html page) between the
two "HEAD" tags are not as important as the title
tag, but the description tag is still used by some search engines
in displaying what you would like web users to see when they
scroll down a page of search results. Some search engines don't
use the description tag at all; others, like Google, sometimes
use part of it together with part of the main body text surrounding
prominent keywords on your page. So you may as well treat the
description tag seriously; make it brief (about 25 to 30 words)
and as comprehensive as possible in the short space allowed.
Make sure you have your popular keywords included within your
description tag. The ALT tag is used for a very short description
of an image or graphic file, and is what is displayed if you
allow your mouse pointer to hover above a graphic. These days
it is not considered important for search engines. The COMMENT
tag is never displayed on the body page, and is used by coders
and designers as an instruction or reminder to themselves about
what that section of html coding should be doing; in the past,
some webmasters in their quest for website promotion and search
engine ranking used to stuff keywords in the comments tags,
but now it is generally acknowledged that the main search engines
pay little or no attention to these.
5. Keyword density. Each search engine has its own preference
as to how many times a keyword phrase appears on the page in
order to signify the relevance of that keyword phrase (in other
words, in order to help the search engine understand what the
page is about). Around 5 to 8 per cent is a rough guide as to
the optimal level. Don't overdo it, otherwise it will be seen
as spam or keyword-stuffing. Also use your keywords in the headings
tags H1 and H2. There is an H3 tag as well, but it is doubtful
whether search engines bother with that, as it is perceived
as less prominent on the page, therefore less relevant to what
the page is about.
6. Don't forget good linking in your website marketing. Search
engines will judge the importance of your web pages to some
extent on the number and quality of incoming links from other
sites. Ask other webmasters with sites on similar themes to
yours for a link, in exchange for a link back. These sites should
not be in competition with yours, but should be similarly themed.
You may occasionally be asked by other webmasters if they can
link to your site. If this is so then have a look at their site;
make sure that their site is relevant, that it has at least
some Page Rank, and that it just "feels" good, and
has no nasty surprises like redirects or unexpected popups.
You don't want to be associated with a "bad neighborhood"!
7. Make sure that important keywords are included in the anchor
text within inbound links from other sites. This is crucial
to search engines when they try to figure out the relevance
and importance of your pages. The inbound link from the other
site should take the form of something like this (I'm using
normal brackets instead of angle brackets so as not to use compromising
html): (A HREF="http://www.Yoursite.com")your important
keywords included here(/A). You should definitely avoid something
like (A HREF="http://www.Yoursite.com")click here(/A),
which tells search engines nothing except that your site is
about "click here". Be careful!
About the Author
Gordon Goodfellow is an Internet marketing consultant and practitioner
He lives and Works in London, UK, and has helped companies in
many industry sectors with clients worldwide. His main site,
http://www.applied-web-marketing.com is an introductory resource
on Internet marketing for small businesses.