8 January 2013
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SEO Starter Guide

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Search Engine Optimization, or simply SEO, is very important to the success of your web site. The more you put into it the more you’ll get out. Unfortunately, many people still believe that submitting their web site to major search engines (such as Google, Yahoo and Bing) is what SEO is all about. But this is totally and utterly wrong. Getting a website listed in the major search engines will not necessarily mean that people can find it.

In order to understand search engine optimization, it is important to understand the definitions of key terms that arise as part of SEO strategy.

  • Hits. Hits are best described as a request from the server. In other words, each and every time a visitor downloads your web page, photo, or file, this is considered a hit. So, you can have 50 visitors and 150 hits.
  • Keyword density. It represents a measure of the number of times any keyword appears on a webpage expressed as a percentage of the total word count of that webpage. This means that if your webpage has 600 words, and your keyword appears six times, its density is 1 percent.
  • Keyword spamming. This is most probably the oldest and once most common trick in the book used to improve Google ranking. However, Google will penalize you for keyword spamming. This popular strategy consists of repeating targeted search phrases over and over in text in order to influence how Google perceives your webpage.
  • PageRank. PageRank is a website evaluation model developed by Google.
  • Search ranking. Search ranking is informal phrase meaning where you land when Internet users search for specific search terms you are targeting on your website.
  • XML sitemap. XML sitemap is one way website designers and search engine optimization experts update Google and other search engines on a website’s structure. Sitemaps also define the various URLs of a site and provide important information to Google, for example, when and how frequently the website is updated.

Introduction

Search engine optimization comes in two basic flavors.

  • White hat SEO. Making sure that your web pages are easily accessible to major search engines, designed to come up high in results for key search phrases and generally optimized in ways that will help improve the chances that a website will be found.
  • Black hat SEO. Reinforcing targeted search phrases through hidden and irrelevant keywords, keyword stuffing, links in the text that provide no value to the user, hidden links, etc.

The Gritty Stuff

Search Engine Optimization means that you have accurately portrayed your site’s content through precisely written code, user-friendly content and well-structured website navigation.

These practices won’t just help visitors better understand your website, they will help major search engines index and list your website better, which in turn leads to good rankings.

  • Optimized HTML code. Cascading Style Sheets, or simply CSS, has completely changed the way website coding can be accomplished. Obviously, the better built and cleaner HTML code is, the less search engines have to do to find what they are searching for.
  • Unique and high quality content. The key to ensuring that search engine don’t penalize your website is to create content that is user-friendly.
  • Good website structure. A combination of high quality content and proper website structure can get you ranked high in search engines for the keywords your potential customers use. Be sure that you use website maps to help visitors get a better view of your site. Also, ensure that your URLs are short and meaningful.

Black Hat SEO

This is a dangerous territory. As soon as you find out exactly how search engines function, there is a slight temptation to give them what they want by stuffing keyword phrases into articles, using keywords that do not match what you have written, etc.

Black Hat SEO is can be defined as a set of unfair strategies used to create false and transient valuations to trick search engines into giving your website a higher ranking. Either used in combinations or individually, Black Hat SEO strategies can initially result in higher site rankings and positions. However, keep in mind that these strategies are unethical and can lead your website to being penalized.

Putting SEO to Work

The main benefit of a user-centered strategy is that your visitors will notice the quality of your site. Unique and high quality content and good navigation helps visitors to navigate through your website when they are searching a particular topic with only a few clicks. Visitors read about you, stick around, and even contact you since you really have what they are searching for.

Of course, SEO is a constant process. There are many webmasters making thousands of dollars using Black Hat SEO strategies, and there will always be those trying to manipulate search engines.

It takes knowledge and persistence to stay in the game with White Hat SEO. Luckily, ethical approaches to SEO require far less maintenance.

Persistence Pays Off

Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing battle, not just one-time job. A website’s content needs to be refreshed frequently, backlinks added, and keyword strategy tweaked according to latest market trends. What’s more, that does not take into account constant updates to search engine algorithms that make your website ranking susceptible to fluctuation.

Finally, Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing commitment. It’s an evolving and daring challenge and should be worked on continually.

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