With search engine algorithms constantly changing, continually altering the way they index and rank websites, how does one approach the increasingly complex world of SEO? The answer, in fact, is surprisingly simple: create good content.
There are certain key elements that, regardless of what other techniques you use to appeal to search engine spiders, you simply must master. Focusing on these aspects of your site will ensure that you meet the basic SEO requirements and that your site ranks well when Internet users perform a search related to your area of expertise.
- Your title is the first thing that search engine spiders—and Internet users—will see, so be sure that your crucial keywords are there. Typically, the closer they appear to the beginning of the title, the better it is for your site’s ranking. There are actually two options for adding titles: the one that appears to visitors to your site and the alternate code title in your title tag, which is, in fact, what most search engines actually use. This enables you to create a more catchy and engaging title for visitors and a more search-friendly title for your title tag.
- The meta description of your site should be brief at no more than approximately 165 characters so as to be completely visible in search results. You should include keywords in the beginning of the meta description and provide an accurate summary of the page so that searchers can be clear on what they will find if they click on the link.
- Your content should be updated frequently. Content that is not refreshed regularly will soon be ranked lower on search engines. This is one of the reasons that blogs have become so popular on many sites. Blogs that are posted frequently are a terrific way to keep your site fresh. Generally, sites with more substantial content—say, more than 300-400 words—will rank higher in search engines than sites with little content. Most importantly for SEO purposes, however, your content must be clearly relevant to your keywords and phrases.
- The frequency with which you use keywords and phrases will affect your ranking in search engines. However, you must walk a fine line. If you use your keywords and phrases too much, search engines will think you’re trying to game the system and you will be penalized. The way to gauge your use of keywords and phrases is to look at your overall keyword density as measured against the length of your content. A good guideline is about two to three percent keyword density; anything over five percent is considered stuffing.
- Do include relevant links in your content as they will help your search engine ranking. While linking to other sites may seam counterintuitive, doing so shows search engines that you are connected to other content. You can also include links to other pages within your own site and to what is known as anchor text.
Remember, there are many factors that go into SEO, so don’t necessarily expect to have a handle on everything. What I’ve outlined are the basics. They will give you a foundation for establishing a website that will rank well in search engines.
(Image by Stuart Miles)