Nobody builds a website if they don’t want people to see it. If you’re operating a website for your own amusment, you may be satisfied with whatever traffic naturally flows to you. If your site is a commercial venture, though, you have a definite interest in getting as many eyeballs on it as possible. A little SEO (search engine optimization) work can make your website much more prominent on search engine results pages and drive tons of new traffic onto your pages. Here’s how to get started.
The heart of any SEO campaign is keyword selection. Keywords are specific words and phrases that you want people to be able to use to find your site. There are many, many ways to incorporate your chosen keywords into your site’s code and content, and all of them will help improve your search engine performance. You can use tools like Google’s AdWords keyword tool to research keywords and pick out the ones that are right for your site.
On the HTML side of things, there are several places on each of your site’s pages where you can use keywords to good effect. Make sure the title of each page (indicated by the TITLE tag) includes the keyword most relevant to its content. Don’t neglect heading tags, either: (H1, H2, etc.) Incorporating keywords into your headings and sub-headings gives them more weight.
If you’ve been using the Internet for quite a while, you may remember the days when every site had a publically-available site map. These have fallen out of fashion, but that doesn’t mean your site doesn’t need one! Even if it’s not available to ordinary visitors, having an accurate, up-to-date site map on your server will be very helpful with SEO. When the search engines index your site, giving them a valid site map will ensure that they don’t miss any of your pages.
You can also tweak your site’s content to make it more attractive to search engines. Use the keyword phrases you’ve chosen to optimize for in the text you post to the site. It’s important not to put the cart before the horse here. Don’t let SEO overshadow your visitors. Your content should be sensible, interesting, and informative above all else. Squeezing in a few more keywords at the cost of making your content nonsensical isn’t worth it.
This brings up an important point to bear in mind throughout your SEO efforts. The effect of most optimization techniques follows a definite bell curve. Doing more to optimize your site will have more and more of an impact – until it doesn’t. If you continue to tweak and tease after your results have tampered off, you may even do real harm to your search engine performance. A site with too many keywords crammed into it and too little real content of value will be flagged as spam. You want to avoid this at all costs; the search engines will penalize your site’s ranking or even de-index it altogether.
The techniques described here are only a small taste of the many different ways you can optimize a website for better rankings on the search engine results pages. If you want to really master SEO, educating yourself further will be necessary. On the other hand, you should hopefully have enough basic info here to try your hand at optimizing and see some positive results.