Search Engine Optimization – The SEO Basics

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If you have a website and you're not focusing on SEO then you better rethink what you're doing right away. Without performing SEO for your website, you will be missing out on potential business because your site will not be optimized for the search engines.

With a properly optimized site, you will be sure to increase exposure and gain more visibility through the various search engines. When someone does a search for your business, you want your site to appear in the search engines so today I'm going to share some common SEO basics to help you get started.

Please note, these are just the basics of SEO, I could go on for hours on what you should be doing with and to your website that will help you gain more exposure - but for now these items get you started and headed in the right direction!

Title Tag

The title tag is the single most important element in regards to SEO. What is a Title Tag? Well it's a piece of code that is displayed in the header of your website code to provide a description of your web pages to both your readers and the search engines. When you view a web page, the title of that page is what you see in the very top-left corner of your web browser.

Properly setup Title Tags will be different for every page and relate to the content that's on that page. If your page is talking about Britney Spears and her ex-husband Kevin Federline then your Title Tag should look like the following:

<title>Britney Spears and Kevin Federline</title>

Title Tags are also used by the search engines. When someone does a search in Google for "Search Engine Optimization" you will notice the web pages that have those keywords in the title will display first.

Meta Tags
What is a Meta Tag? It's a piece of code that's placed in the top header of your website to help describe your web pages to the search engines. The most common Meta Tags are the Keyword and Description Tags. Each one of these tags has a different purpose:

Keyword - the Keyword Meta Tag is used to tell the search engine what topics are discussed on each page of your website. If your Keyword tags are setup correctly, they will be different for each page and reflect the content that's on that page. For example, if your page was about Britney Spears and Kevin Federline's children custody battle, your keywords would look like the following:

<meta name="keywords" content="britney spears,Kevin federline,children,custody battle" />

Description - The Description Tag is similar to the Keyword Tag but instead of providing keywords, you'll be providing a description of your web page. If a description is provided, it will most likely be used in the search results when your page displays in the search engines. As an example, your description would look like the following:

<meta name="description" content="Britney Spears loses children in custody battle over Kevin Federline." />

Search Engine Friendly URLs
An SEO element effecting both on and off-page is search engine friendly URLs. But what exactly constitutes a search engine friendly URL? Basically, it is the level of relevance between the URL text and the content on the corresponding web page; this relevance helps to determine a URL's success in search engines and by extension affects the rank, placement, and success of the web page.

Relevant URLs are not only informative for your reader; search engine-friendly URLs are well-received by search engine spiders, help to accurately index your content and are useful for increasing a website's ranking much more than generic or dynamic URLs tend to do.

Optimized Page Content
Optimizing your websites content is the key to success on the Internet. Optimizing content is the act of manipulating your content in a way that allows you to receive more exposure in the search engines.

When you write content for your web pages, you need to think about your reader first. You need to get in their minds and think about what they would type in the search engines in order to find your products, services, or business online. If you can accurately do this, you will be sure to gain more visibility in the search engines because your website content will properly reflect your target user-base and will help them locate your website more easily.


Google and Yahoo Sitemaps
Submitting your URLs to Google and Yahoo is a great way to ensure that all of your web pages and content are indexed in their search engines. There are many ways to do this but the most recommended way is to setup an automated sitemap, using our HH Sitemap Manager. With this revolutionary product, you will completely eliminate the headache and manual process required to setup and manage your sitemap submissions on a daily basis.

Alt Attributes
The alt attribute is widely (and incorrectly) referred to as an alt tag; due to this skewed definition, it is commonly misunderstood as a tool-tip for an image. These are detrimental misconceptions. First of all, the alt attribute is an attribute and not a tag. The alt attribute was always intended to provide alternative information about an element; it is generally required for image and image maps and is not meant to be used to display a tool-tip. The alt attribute can be used for the img, area, and input elements to help provide alternative information for users who cannot display that element in their browser.

The alt attribute is helpful in terms of providing alternative information to the user when their browser cannot display an image or input element. Alt attributes are the best bet for helping to increase the SEO of a website. My recommendation is to pay close attention to when, where and how you are using your alt attributes. If they help with SEO, then you should pay close attention to what you are adding.

When adding images always be sure to add an alt attribute to the code of each image. If you do not have one, then just specify a blank one, such as alt="". Also, be sure to add alternative text that is relevant to that image, the content on that page and be sure not to specify an alt attribute greater than 100 characters in length, as this may be perceived as spamming.

The following are just a few things to think about when performing SEO for your website. A website that is not optimized for the search engines is just like flying a kite without a string - it will just float out there in space with no control. Performing some basic SEO for your website is a great step forward to gaining more visibility and increasing your exposure in the search engines.

I wish you luck with your SEO implementation. If you ever need any assistance, please reach out to me and I will be more than happy to help you.

 

Daryl H. Bryant is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Horizons, helps his clients achieve online success through search engine marketing and customized website solutions.

 

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