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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics

Jan 10, 2008
If you have a website, your goal is to get as much traffic to your website that you can. In order to do that without emptying your bank account you need to rank high in the search engines. To succeed with that goal, you need to learn a few basics of SEO.

The art of creating web pages that will rank well is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short. If you ask a dozen SEO experts to list their top 10 SEO tips you will get 12 different lists. There are a few basics, though, that most SEO experts agree on.

SEO revolves around optimizing your webpage for keywords. That means the number one thing you need to do to optimize your page is to find the correct keywords. It would be a lot of wasted time and effort if you optimized your site for some specific keywords, only to find out later that there were much better keywords you should have used.

Once you find your keywords, you are ready to start optimizing your site. The most important area of the site to optimize is the title. The title of your site is what will show up in the search engine results for your keyword. That means not only does it need to include your keywords, but it needs to be compelling enough or direct enough for someone to click on it when they see it.

The next area of optimization, META tags, is one that there are many disagreements about. META tags are tags put into the header of the html code of your website that is only there for the search engines to read. They are not visible anywhere on the site to your visitor.

The one META tag that is agreed upon, is the description META tag. This description should have your keywords in it, preferably at or near the beginning. It should be an accurate and concise description of your site. This description will often be part of the search engine results, listed right under your title.

There is another META tag that is debated as to it's current importance to the engines. That is the keyword META tag. I would include it. It doesn't hurt and many search engines still use it. This tag is where you list your keywords.

One thing you need to be careful of is spamming the search engines with keywords. Use keywords but only as they make sense in communicating your message. Don't use keywords more than once in the title and not more than three times in the description.

The next area of your website that should have keywords incorporated are your headlines and your sub headlines. Now here is where an SEO expert might not have the best advice for a sales oriented site. If possible you should incorporate your keywords in the headline and the sub headlines. But there is one caution.

Remember that your headline is the most important sales statement on your page. It is your headline that will determine whether your lead stays to read your page or clicks away. While you want to have a headline that is keyword rich, you don't want to compromise the effectiveness of the headline to capture your lead's attention. Utilize keywords in your headings as much as you can but don't try to put too many keywords in so you loose the effectiveness of your headline.

The final basic principle of SEO is to make sure keywords are used through out the site in the body text. Again don't spam the text with keywords. In most cases if your content is on your keyword subject, the keywords will end up in the text naturally.

SEO is not an exact science. There are many opinions on how to best optimize your site. The basics of having the proper keywords and optimizing the title, Meta description, headlines and body will put you ahead of most of your competitors.
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