As you might imagine, there are dozens of strategies and tips for SEO. Based on my experience and research, I’ve put together what I consider the 5 most important tips for the SEO beginner. As with most disciplines, this list also serves as a good refresher of the basics. In these tips, I will define the importance of keywords, title tags, anchor text, backlinks, and dynamic content. I’ll try to keep it interesting. Don’t fall asleep!
1. Keywords are super important.
Words. I’m talking about the actual words you use in your text, anywhere in your text. SEO is nonexistent without words. Search engines would barely function without words. “Keywords” is SEO jargon for the words that most people use when they search for information. For example, years ago I listed a bass guitar on craigslist. When the gentleman showed up to my door to retrieve the guitar, he merely said, “Bass.” I was surprised at the lack of words used, but that one word was sufficient enough. It was an important word with the query at hand. Now, “guitar” would have been better. That would have been the ideal keyword. “Bass guitar” would have been best, and that’s what we call a keyword phrase. In fact, I’m quite sure I used that keyword phrase in my listing’s title, which is why the guitar was found and sold so quickly to a deranged man. Sidenote: Please use the buddy system with craigslist transactions.
2. Put those keywords in the title tag.
That brings me to the title, which is also very important. Search engines give more importance to words in the title code of a web page versus words in the text. This is common sense because the title, in theory, would summarize the entire content of the text. For those of us who like to be clever with our titles, this is a real downer. I feel you. Save the clever bits for the text body. When viewing HTML code, the title is inserted between title tags, like this:
<title>This is my unclever, yet effective title</title>
Don’t worry, almost all internet content is created through HTML editors now, so you won’t need to deal with HTML code. You need only pay attention to the title field, which is typically the first field you fill out in HTML editing software.
3. Remember backlinks and ranking.
Backlinks is not another word for vertebrae, although it should be. I’m talking about the virtual kind—the kind that google likes. Google pays attention to the inter-connectivity of links between websites. Although it still matters that you create links on your own website, Google cares much more that websites are linking to you. These are called backlinks. Backlinks are much more valuable if the website linking to you is reputable and popular. Black hat SEO used to have a field day with deceptive backlinks before Google incorporated this ranking system.
4. Don’t throw away the anchor text.
Pay attention to the words you use in your hyperlink text. This text is usually underlined, and it’s called the anchor text. Remember the click here epidemic? The mere mention of it causes me distress. If that click here link takes you to a page about pink hair dye, then that link should read, pink hair dye. It’s almost too much common sense, right? Google likes this sort of brevity and consistency.
5. Write fresh and engaging content.
Last but not least is content. The words are the content, yes, but now I’m talking about how often you create and update your content. The content should also be engaging. Google ranks engagement by how many users visit your page, share the page, link to your page, and so forth.
Although there’s plenty more to care about with SEO, these 5 rules will serve you well. I don’t suggest you dumb down your texts, but do remember to use plenty of common words, the keywords. These keywords are especially important in your page titles and link text, otherwise known as anchor text. If you get a backlink from a reputable site, that’s a big win. Linking to reputable sites counts too, and that much you can control, right? Also, make sure you keep your website’s content up-to-date and frequently add new pages or blog entries. Now go create a new web page!
Thressa Willett is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content writing. She also writes for the Portland Buzz, a media website that provides quality content and exposure for businesses in and around Portland, Maine.