ABCs of Search Engine Optimization

Alphabetical list of seo tips. A-Z

ABCs of SEO and SEM

A: Alt Tags, Analytics, and Advertise

Bot's are blind and can't see pictures. Help them out make sure you fill out all alt tags. There has been some rumor that GoogleBot gives special weight to alt tags.

Get some sort of analytics program that gives you details on your site. Not analyzing is like trying to thread a needle in the dark. If you don't know how you are doing, what content is hot or not, how are you going to make the appropriate changes?

A major part of SEM (Search Engine marketing) is advertising. Make sure to track conversions. Try Adsense, YPN, Adbrite, Chitika just to name a few. Get your site visible to the end user. Get that name recognition started.

B: Backlinks and Bold Tags

Get as many quality backlinks as you can. These are the cornerstone to any good seo friendly site. For the dumber bots they lead to your site, for the more complex bots like GoogleBot they are a vote, a link, and a description. They are 50% of rankings. Don't believe me? Check out this Article from the BBC Google checks what words link to sites, and it essentially cast a vote. At one time Googling Miserable Failure brought up George W. Bush. I knew search engines where smart, but wow that's impressive.

Bold or Strong tags make your keywords pop. They are a plus 1 for search engine optimization. Having "blue widgets" are cool, blue widgets are nice. Is not as good as blue widgets are cool, blue widgets are nice. Just don't make it so obvious that you are doing that. Spread your words out and make good sentences and statements.

C: Content, Cache, and Conversions

Content is King, Queen, and even the Joker. Create quality content often, and keep it fresh. Keep the bots coming back for more. The more content the more chances you have to get visitors. At its basic level if you have no content.. you have no pages, and will obviously have no visitors. Doh!

Check your new pages cache frequently, or at least until they become cached .Google Toolbar lets you check to see if the current page has been indexed (cached). How long did they take to show up in the search engines? Which ones showed up quicker, and why? How can you increase the cache time. When where they last indexed? You want to get pages indexed as quickly as possible. Get in the cache.

If you advertise find some way to check your conversion rates. Usually measured as a percentage. What is a conversion. Well it's when you pay for a visitor and they perform a specific task. These tasks may include purchasing and item, registering for an account, or just viewing a specific page. Most advertisement companies will generate some simple script that you place on the page. When they reach that page then the conversion is made. Drop conversion campaigns that have a high cost per conversion.

D: Digg, Del.Ico, Directory Submit, and Duplicate Content

Digg Del.Ico.us and other social bookmarking sites are a great way to meet, greet, and get traffic. Get to know these sites, submit content often, and traffic should improve.

Submitting to directories with pr 4 or greater is a must. They provide some traffic, and also some extra link juice. Make a goal to submit to at least 1 a week. Also realize some directory submissions may take up to 6 months to get approved. Here is a great list of some SEO Friendly Directories.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT create duplicate content. Don't have 2 pages with the same content. Canonical content is the same url with and without a www. example. http://mywebsite.com/test.htm is often seen as a totally different site from http://www.mywebsite.com/test.htm This is called Canonical Content. Search engines often are not smart enough to figure this out. The best thing to do is to create Duplicate Content Fixer and add the data to your .htaccess file.

E: Elements and Evolve

Learn Basic (X)HTML Elements/Tags. No matter your level of experience. Learning, or re-learning tags helps. Vary your tags and use proper syntax. Close all element brackets.

Evolve. Once you start getting good search rankings and tracking it's just begun. You need to constantly evolve. We don't mean change the entire site, but look at that analytics data. Check your top exit pages. How did you screw them up so that you have such a high bounce rate? Where are people coming from? What terms are you ranking well for and why? What terms are you ranking lousy for? These are all questions you need to ask and understand the answers to.

F: Frames and Flash

Both frames and flash are a no no for seo. Bots see frames as separate pages, and the content in them as a page themselves. They are confusing. Flash is or was until just recently impossible to crawl by bots. You can't even give it an alt tag it sucks. Stay away from flash if you can help it.

G: Google and Google (noun then verb)

The 7 million pound Gorilla in the room. Set a goal to learn as much as you can about why your competitors are ranking well. Google gets more search traffic than all of its 3 major competitors combined. Wow.

Google your keywords weekly to see where you rank. Something of a warning. Google takes into account the bounce rate... or the number of times a person searches for a term and then returns to search again. This tells them that they didn't find what they wanted on that url. If it's a long tail term that isn't searched for often clicking your site and then searching again for the same term could bear not so positive results.

H: Headings

Learn your <h1><h2><h3><h4><h5> heading tags. They are all really easy. <h1>Some data here</h1> they are the blinking lights on a runway for the bots. They get immediate attention and tell the bot hey this page is organized and is about "blue widgets" or whatever the page is about. Don't overdue it however. Make sure to use them in order. <h1> Then <h2> etc. then you could maybe <h2> then <h3> etc. It's very important that you use these. No joke.

I: Italics

Use the <em></em> tags to italicize your keywords making them stick out to users and the bots. When creating a content rich page with I try to italicize my subject (keyword or phrase) a 1x. Usually the 2nd or 3rd time it appears. From what I've read bots consider a bold or italicized word important.

J: Javascript

No javascript menu's. Do not use Javascript in your menus, while they look cool, bots don't run javascript. They have no way of following those javascript links. Javascript is a SEO No No. Instead use static text links.

K: Keywords

Research your keywords. If you are new to seo or just got dropped off from some planet named mars let me explain keywords. Keywords are searched terms, or phrases. Try some of these cool tools. Use these to find what people are searching for. Put those phrases in your title, description, content, but use them for real. Don't keyword stuff. Create content that you would want to see when searching for that term. Make the user happy first. Then implement SEO.Tools: Keyword Playground, WordTracker, Adwords Keyword Tool, Seo Book Keyword Suggestion,and SelfSeo Keyword Suggestion Tool.

L: Layout

Whether its a single, double, or tipple column layout. Before you create draw it out on paper and see how it looks. The layout makes the difference between 2 page views and 15 page views per visitor. You want to immerse your user. Put controls or links in normal places, places where you would look.

M: Market Place, Meta Tags, and Apache Mod Rewrite

Research your marketplace. What sells, what's just a fad, what's hot, what's not? Check out Google Trends. It's an amazing tool that let's you see exactly that.. trends. Is the marketplace over saturated. Google the term? Are there more than 30Million results? If so it's probably over saturated. From a SEM point of view it can be very expensive to purchase ads in a over saturated market. Supply and demand. more people wanting ad space mean more expensive ads.

Meta Tags are essential. Description, and Keywords are just a few. Check out this free meta tag generator. Without these your seo sucks. While some people debate over keywords meta, no one argues over description. This is what shows up in the search results.

While search engines are getting smarter every week, it's still common SEO practice to Mod Rewrite your data. Google Mod Rewrite tutorials if you need instructions. Basically it allows users on an apache web server to make the url more seo friendly. It can turn http://yourwebsite.com/page.php?id=20&content=Cooking+With+Fire&start=true into http://yourwebsite.com/cooking-with-fire.html Since url's are looked at for content comparison on search engine results you want it to be short and simple. Older bots also have trouble getting over the ? and &. Just like my old grandma and stair, she just can't get up them, and they confuse her.

N: Niche

Find your niche. Start off in a niche and after you gain trust and traffic then branch out into broader titles.

O: Often

Update content often. When we say this we mean new content, not change the old content. Google knows if your page is stale, they also know their users don't want last weeks dirty laundry. They want fresh, relevant, content that gives them that info they just searched for. If you update often enough, you can get new content added daily to search engines. As a prime example posts made at the sitepoint forum will show up in google within 3 hours! Google has deemed them a trusted resource for fresh content.

P: PageRank

PageRank is the most visible and misunderstood measurement of a web pages worth. It was originally based off of backlinks when it was created. It was developed at Stanford University by Larry Page. What's it mean? Not much. Its a decent measurement of a website's worth, but there are website out there with PR 5 that get 60 visitors a day while some website's with PR 4 get 6,000. The more quality backlinks the better pr essentially. O yeah people call it PR often in forums. No one knows for sure all the variables but basically the more quality links you have coming in the higher the PR.

Q: Quality and Quicklinks

Create quality content. What's the point of getting or paying for visitors when they leave after seeing the low quality content you offer. Create quality content.

Make your most important keywords and content available on every page as quicklinks. This will dramatically increase the rankings for those pages. not to many however. Somewhere between 3-10 is appropriate. Any more and you'll be spreading the link butter to thin.

R: Relevance

Get links from sites that are related to your niche. This is simple, but almost always overlooked. Some mexican horse viagra website linking to your stock tips site isn't doing you any good. Warning stay away from the mexican horse viagra.

S: Simple, StumbleUpon, and Spelling

Keeping it simple means don't make pages that are over 200K, keep it minimal. Don't overwhelm your users with to much animation, ads, or other crap unless you don't want them to come back. Doing this will also allow users to find what they are looking for. Google only caches about 200kb per page. Much more than that is wasted seo time.

Again hit up those sites like StumbleUpon. A Good stumble can bring you a thousand or more visitors a day.

No one want's to read crap. Use spellcheck I personally suck at spelling, and this may be an understatement. While writing ABC's of SEO i've mispled atlast 100 werds or more. Spellcheck fixed them however. Search engines take notice of spelling errors and some say even grammar. They check for sentence structure to prevent spammers from creating random content with keywords embeded. Now on a second note sometimes misspelling a commonly misspelled word can help. As people will search for those misspelled terms.

T: Tables, Tweak and Test

Try to stay away from tables. They confuse robots. Robots are dumb little creatures and having to navigate through your <table><tr><td>table</td></tr></table> tags is confusing isn't it. Try using CSS instead. It takes less code and loads faster. You can float pictures and other content left or right.

Tweak and Test. Make small changes to layouts, content inbound link titles etc. Wait a few weeks for the change. Don't expect immediate results. Did your page go up or down in ranking? You can always improve.. tweak tweak tweak and test.

U: Underline

Just like the strong and italic tags the underline tag can help give special weight to keywords and phrases.

V: Variation and Validate

Vary or alternate incoming link tags. Don't have 300 links to your website from other sites saying "blue widget" but have some that say buy blue widgets, free blue widgets, try our blue widgets, widgets blue and so on.

Validate your html or xhtml. Make sure it looks good and doesn't give the bots a headache. Remember to make it easier on them.

W: Wait

Be patient. Any good seo guru will tell you, unless your site is old and established you need to wait. Keep working, it's going to take months to rank well.

X: Xchange Links

If you are starting a new website research similar sites and offer link exchanges. It's not such a good idea if you are established, but if you are new and need indexing, traffic, and to build those inbound links and get your keywords hopping.

Y: Years

When purchasing a domain purchase it for at least 2 years. This helps because the search engines realize hey this guy is in it for the long haul and not just some guy who is going to put up some crap template site with no long term goal. Many black hat domainers will create quick scraper sites and hop from domain to domain. Prove you're not one. Register for 2 years not 1.

Z: Zesty

Keep content zesty and fresh. Spicy and new. Stay on the cutting edge of your field. Give your users the latest and greatest. Stand out.