Do you every wonder what it takes to show up on the first page of search results in a search engine? Maybe you have heard the term SEO and wondered “What do Slightly Eccentric Orangutans have to do with better rankings in search engine results for my website?” Of course, I jest in regards to the primates, yet I still remember the first time I sat down to optimize my website and how overwhelmed I was by the plethora of different methods and opinions that abounded and were “the only way to get your website on the first page of Google.” I hope that through this blog post as well as the next couple of SEO-centric blog posts, we can shed some light on the mystery that is SEO so you can learn to effectively optimize your website.
To start let us look at the true definition of SEO by asking the question:
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is the active practice of developing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines.
As you can see, nothing about orangutans in there, eccentric or otherwise. However, there are three things that are in there that are absolutely important to the optimization of your site.
1. Active practice
2. Internal aspects
3. External aspects
Today we are going to look at some of the basics of SEO and we will be starting with the a few of the “Internal Aspects.” of site optimization. We will look at the “External Aspects” of SEO in a blog post in the near future, however, if there is one thing you take away from this post or any future post about SEO let it be this:
SEO is an active practice.
Just as you would change the oil in your car every three to five thousand miles to prevent engine damage, you need to check your site’s ranking in search engine results as well as using a web site tracker such as Google Analytics and fine tune the internal and/or external optimization of your site’s SEO as needed.
Internal Aspects of Site Optimization
We are going to look at three internal aspects that are required for a successful optimization of your website. (The three steps that are listed below were taken from a blog post written by Dustin Williams on seo.com, The 3 Key Elements To A Successful SEO Campaign.)
1. Keyword Focus
Keyword research is the groundwork for a successful SEO campaign. Doing keyword research in a way that will bring long-term success requires in-depth analysis around all keywords that may be relevant to the products or services of the targeted website. Start with the most general keywords and find long tail keywords (a phrase that contains 2 – 5 keywords) relating to each of them, then search for other long tail keywords relating to each of those. This pattern can be repeated many times to find many keyword opportunities. This strategy will also uncover some highly targeted keywords that will convert (change visitors into customers) well and could be fairly easy to rank for. Don’t forget: Long tail keywords are often less competitive and typically convert much better. It is also a good idea to search for lateral keywords as well. Lateral keywords are those that have the same meaning as other targeted keywords. So if I am optimizing a website about “aquariums,” I would also want to optimize it for the term “fish tanks.”
A great free tool to research keywords is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You can use this tool to check and see the local and global competition for keywords and keyword phrases that you are thinking about using to optimize your site.
2. Strong Page Element Optimization
The optimization of the HTML elements on each page of the website is a critical factor in search engine optimization. Targeted search terms should be included in various places in the HTML code to tell the search engine crawlers what the page is about. The following elements must be optimized to allow for a successful SEO campaign.
Page Title: The page title (title tag) should include the targeted search terms and be a well written sentence that is 64 to 70 characters long. It should not be a string of keywords or one keyword phrase repeated several times. Remember that a good page title will not only be keyword targeted but also will entice a person to click on it in the search results.
Page Headings: The page heading (and subheadings) should be formatted properly using H1, H2 and H3 tags and include the targeted search terms. Cascading Style Sheets can be used to format the heading to fit with the content of the webpage. H1 tags are meant to be used for the main page heading and should only be used more than once on a page where it makes sense. H2, H3 and other header tags can be used for content subheadings and headings to site navigation.
Image Alternate Text: Optimize Alt Attributes of images by including targeted keywords where the keywords have some relevance to the image. Alternate text should tell a website visitor what the image is. When optimized, the alternate text can help with keyword rankings for both the webpage and the image in image searches. Do not make your image Alt Attribute extremely long and keyword stuffed. Alternate text should be brief and relate well to the image.
Link Anchor Text: Site content should include links to other pages of the website that have keywords in the anchor text. Adding two or three keyword links into page content of 150 or more words is ideal. Do not fill the page content full of keyword links. Remember that linking in the content more than once to the same page will not give any additional SEO benefits.
I know, the information in this section probably seems like you just had a conversation with an orangutan. However, if you are a TherapySites customer, please feel free to contact the SEO Support team at SEO@TherapySites.com for instruction and assistance on optimizing your page elements for SEO.
Also, for further information on optimizing your pages for search engines, visit the links below:
3. Good Quality Page Content
A website with good quality content will be one step closer to getting top search engine rankings. The search engines are constantly trying to improve the quality of the search results. The one way to be sure to always be relevant when algorithms are updated is to provide content that search engines will consider high quality. That kind of content is not copied from other websites. It is unique, specific, and provides value to a site visitor. Writing guides, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, common misconceptions and practical use articles that are clean, simple to read, and incorporate the keywords and keyword phrases you have chosen to optimize your site with are all great ways to add good content to a website. Keep in mind that having great content will not only give the search engines a good idea of what the website is about but will also give other webmasters a good reason to link to your website.
Today we have learned that SEO has nothing to do with primates. The three things we need to focus on when developing the internal aspects of our site optimization are keyword focus, page element optimization, and quality page content. Last, and most importantly, SEO is an active practice and must be checked and maintained.
I hope you now have some insight on how to get started with optimizing your site. If you are a TherapySites customer and you have any questions or would like your site reviewed for SEO, please contact us at Seo@TherapySites.com.
Nathan S – TherapySites Support and SEO
Email any questions to Seo@TherapySites.com