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DIY SEO - Quick Guide to On-Page Optimization

Jul 1, 2008
To get a better web site position and implicitly more traffic, you need to optimize your web site for the search engines. You will find plenty of resources on the internet, but what you need is a basic SEO plan that helps you get started quickly.

Learn how to optimize your keywords and web site pages for the search engines with this on-page optimization guide and get back for our next article on off-page optimization. I hope this step-by-step approach will help you to easily optimize the site yourself or understand what to ask from your web designer. Let's get started.

A SEO Plan has three parts:

1. Keyword Optimization

2. On-page Optimization

3. Off-Page Optimization

Keyword Optimization

The first thing is to determine several keywords or phrases (2-5 per web page) that define your business activity and the content of your web site. Think what key phrases people would type in Google or Yahoo to find your web site or product. For example, you sell XYZ project management software. A sample of keywords you may consider would be:

Minimum: XYZ software, project management software, PM software Extended: XYZ software, project management software, PM software, pm office, performance management, knowledge management, project teams management, IT project management, project management automation.

Targeted: XYZ software Canada, project management software and Calgary, Calgary XYZ software, etc.

To find the best keywords do the following:
Make your own list of 2 - 20 key phrases
Look for Google Search Term Suggestion Tool or the one offered by Wordtracker for new keyword ideas and to determine the best key phrases to optimize your site for.

Select the key phrases or words that best describe your activity & web site topic, have a good search statistic and are less used by competition. Sometimes it is hard to choose, so a simple option is to use the key phrases on your list to which you add Calgary, Alberta, or Canada to enhance regional focus.

Since the home page is the most important, find and place the 2-5 key phrases most relevant to your products/services and web topic on it. For the remaining pages you might consider more unique or detailed key phrases.

On-page Optimization

You have chosen your key phrases, now it is time to optimize your website for them. For each important web page you must place the corresponding key phrases as follows:

- Web Page Title

That is the title of the web page displayed on the blue top bar of your browser. Insert a title tag in the HTML code of the page. Title should contain the 2-3 target key phrases and be no longer than 60-70 characters (spaces included).

-Web Page Content

Use your selected key phrases throughout the page as often as possible without disturbing the natural reading flow. Try to have each keyword come up at least 5 times per page and make sure you place them in headlines and titles.

Use them in bold, in links to other pages, in bullet lists and throughout the text. Useful HTML tags for this purpose: for headlines use h1, h2 and so on. To emphasize phrases use tags like strong, em, b and so on. Try to position the key phrases at the beginning and end of the page. Using alt-attributes and keywords in the name of your image files is also a good idea.

-Meta Tags

Meta Tags have fallen from the search engines grace these days, but are still useful. They provide a short description of your web site content and target keywords to search engines.

Basically the meta tags are 2 lines of html code (meta name description and meta name keywords) that are placed on each important web page and contain a web site headline and the target keywords of the page. Make sure that the keywords you use are present on that page so that you are not penalized by search engines.

To see how title, headline and meta tags are written in html and used on a page, go to a website page, right click and select View Source. You will see the html version of that page. Not all web site pages use these tags or allow you to see the html code, but most of them will.

-Site Map

Once your content is ready, build a site map of your site. A site map is a hierarchical navigational structure that contains text-based links to all relevant pages of your web site. It makes it easier for search engines spiders to discover, crawl and index your pages, and thus increase your web site visibility.

A site map can be created by your web designer. Pre-defined storefronts have often site map building features included. If you are IT savvy try it yourself at using the sitemap generator provided by Google and found under tools for webmasters.

A few end remarks before saying good-bye. SEO will help you rank well in search engines, but be aware it may take months, so do not expect miracles over night. Off-page optimization impacts your ranking quicker and more dramatic, but on-page optimization is a required fundamental in the long run. Web sites are dynamic, so you need to continuously refresh the content to stay relevant to customers and search engines. We will dive into Off-page Optimization in our next article, so stay tuned!
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