The world today has become increasingly dependent on the internet for nearly everything: information, shopping, keeping in touch with friends, and entertainment.
In order to sift through the vast amounts of information stored on the internet, people make use of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to do it for them. A great majority of people depend on search engines to look for anything and everything. Most of the time, people don’t try to look anywhere else but what search engines offer them to get the information they need.
Search engines use complex algorithms to deliver users with the most accurate results possible. And since the top ranked result on a search engine query gets over half of all clicks, then it’s no surprise that businesses the world over are fighting for that coveted spot.
Search engine optimization or SEO is the practice of employing certain techniques that cater to the algorithms that search engines use to increase a site’s ranking for a query related to their business.
Hundreds of online resources offer various tips on how to help optimize websites, some of them are good, and some of them are bogus (and could possibly get you penalized by Google). Fortunately, we’re here to help you sort the good ones from the bad.
Here are our top 10 SEO tips that everyone hoping to make a mark on the worldwide web should know:
#1 Have great content that is up-to-date and helpful to users
Search engine algorithms are exceedingly complex and the engineers working for Google and other search engines are thinking up new ways everyday to make it even harder for people to cheat the system. However, the important thing is this: The main goal of search engines is to deliver people with the most accurate and useful results in relation to a query. So if your website has useful, relevant and unique content, then it will probably show up more highly in searches.
Aside from that, great content gets the most backlinks (we’ll discuss this further later on) and the most shares. And since Google considers high traffic sites as more relevant, sites that are visited often and shared often are ranked highly.
Search engines also give weight to information that has been recently updated so try to add fresh content to your website regularly. However, if your website is one that has information that remains fairly stagnant, then consider having a blog that updates regularly. This way, search engines can see that your website is not left unattended.
Of course, you must make sure that your content is geared towards your chosen audience and keywords, which brings us to our next tip.
#2 Find the best keywords
It would be a complete waste of time to optimize your website for keywords that people don’t really search for. It’s wise to research and analyze the right keywords for your website. You could first find the different keywords most associated with your business, and then you could use Google Adwords (or other tools) to test the popularity / competitiveness of each keyword.
Google Adwords is a tool that’s used to find the popularity of certain keywords or key phrases. It can tell you the number of searches that a keyword or key phrase gets, its competition, as well as other related keywords you could use. Keywords or key phrases that yield high results and have low competition are the ones you should ideally pursue.
#3 Optimize keywords for your site
It’s always been common knowledge that search engines match results to a query depending on the presence and frequency of certain keywords in a site’s content. However, individuals have also been cheating the system with practices such as keyword stuffing and hidden texts.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of using keywords over and over in order to fool search engines into thinking that a site’s content contains more relevant information. Sites like this are usually not very helpful to readers and are regarded as spam. Since Google aims to find relevant information for people, it has found ways to counter this by devaluing websites that use keywords too frequently.
On the other hand, the practice of hidden texts yields content that may be useful for users except that keywords are hidden in the background of the page to increase keyword density. This was a commonly used method because it had a lower bounce rate than keyword stuffing (bounce rate is the number of users who click a site and then immediately leave it). However, Google has also detected this practice and websites could get penalized for doing it.
The best way to optimize your chosen keywords is to use them strategically and sufficiently but not beyond a normal range. Yes, it’s tricky and there are no steadfast answers as the algorithms are changing all the time.
Other than using keywords in content, it’s also good to use them in page titles, descriptions, image captions, and meta tags to help people and search engines find your content more easily.
This also applies to texts in links (these are called anchor texts). Instead of using an image as a link or something generic like “Click me”, use keywords or useful words that describe what users will get when they click it.
#4 Take advantage of title tags and meta tags
A title tag shows search engines and their users what they can expect from your webpage. This is what shows up under the page link when you make a search. Since only about 66 characters are shown on the results page, try to keep them short but accurately descriptive.
It also helps to create title tags for each page in your website because it lets search engines recognize each page as distinct from each other.
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