Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making a conscious effort improve the ranking of your website for specific key terms.
The efforts we make for SEO fall into two basic categories: in-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first, on-page, involves the coding of a site. The second, off-page, involves getting other websites to link to yours.
It all begins with really understanding the nature of your subsite and the audience it intends to attract. Your goal should be to get your intended audience to find you through Google (and other search engines) using the search phrases they are most likely to use.
Video: How Search Works by Google (March 2014) [3:24]
Key Points on How Search Works
- You’re searching Google’s index of the web
- Spiders fetch a few web pages, then they follow the links to other web pages, and so on
- Google indexes many billions of pages across thousands of machines
- A search command results in Google checking the search terms against its index
- Google decides which pages show first in results by looking at:
- how many times does a page contain the search terms?
- do the search terms appear in the title or URL?
- does the page include synonyms for those words?
- is this page from a quality website, or a spammy one?
- Google does not accept payment to include a site or change results (except for Ads)
- Google wants to display only ads that you would want to see
- Define your conversion (I want visitors to ______)
- Be smart about your copy/text; include relevant keywords
- Page strategy—each page should include:
- unique topic
- unique page title
- unique meta description
- keywords in the URL, lowercase and hyphen-separated
- descriptive anchor text/label for every link
- descriptive alt attributes for every image
On-page optimization is what you do on your website to influence Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) on Google.
- Having proper meta tags in the <head> of each page is essential. Always include your keyword phrase(s) in your meta tags.
- The proper meta tags include your title tag and description tag.
- The keywords meta tag is not used by the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, but it is still relevant to lots of smaller ones.
<title>Kids Busy Book – Attractions for Kids in Sacramento, California</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Kids Busy Book features attractions for kids, places to visit in California, what to do in Sacramento, and fun family places. “/>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”attractions for kids, places to go with kids, events for kids, playgrounds, classes, birthday parties”/>
- Include your keyword phrase(s) in your <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> header tags. This signifies the importance of your content to Google. The <h1> for your pages and posts comes from the page title you define.
<h1>Zoo Events for Kids and Families</h1>>
- Label each graphic with a descriptive alt attribute, and include your keyword phrase where appropriate.
- Use descriptive keywords in anchor text (the visible text label) that match the keywords the source page is trying to target.
Content Creation and SEO
- Content is king. Google and other search engines want to send their users to sites that demonstrate that they have fresh, relevant, and significant content.
But what does Google want? They want relevant, real content on the internet that people want to read and tell other people about. If Google doesn’t bring you the most relevant content when you search they aren’t doing their job.
SEO only goes so far before it’s “gaming the system.” A site’s true worth is in what it can offer users, not search engines.
By all means, do what you can to make it easy for people and search engines understand what your website is about. Market your content in several environments, including social media. But focus primarily on good content, and people will come.