Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Whether you want to increase the market share for your web-shop or increase the amount of visitors on your website SEO can increase traffic for you.

SEO is about the on-page design and off-page linking strategies you can use to improve your search engine ranking.


Search Engine Optimization SEO

 

The relevance of SEO?

Search engines generate more targeted traffic then enifing else. I am not just talking about Google. I am talking about all the search engines that service millions of users every day and the crawlers that supply the engines with data. With more than 400 million web searches performed every day.

SEO gives you the largest ROI of all marketing tools. Because the traffic SEO provides is free and the rankings your website achieves through SEO can continue for a long time after the initial work has been done.


SEO Priority List

What has the most weight and importance in the SEO process?
The truth is that only the search engine programmers know all of the search algorithms that give top rank. But when it comes to SEO techniques like selecting keywords a large array of tools are available to the domain administrator. Google says "We made 400+ algorithm changes last year". Some information about search algorithms are very public some are subject to much discussion.
This is a list of important parts of SEO in a approximate priority rank.


seo image of Content King plaing card
In General:
  1. The Golden Rule of SEO is that Content is King.
    High quality unique content that will not just attract but retain your target audience.
  2. Keywords that will attract the target audience should be repeated as much as necessary in all elements through the index document and the site to get the right keyword density.
  3. On-Page Elements: Title, H1, and alt tags.
  4. The sites URL must be a canonical URL
  5. Site speed
  6. The sites URL keywords must be relevant for the target audience.
  7. Adding fresh relevant content at minimum 4-5 times a week.
  8. Having a site wide on-page text linking plan.
  9. A wide shallow site with all pages being accessible with 3 clicks or less from the index page. The logic of a shopping cart is naturally different. 5 steps to reach the payment module are to be expected.
  10. Links generated by the sites users from social networking sites. By using a like button on the websites front page.

On-page elements

  1. Title elements.
  2. H1 and H2 element close to the page top left.
  3. Anchor text.
  4. Domain name & Page URL's keywords
  5. The proper use of ALT elements with image related text.
  6. Body text.
  7. Writing Meta descriptions for every page on the website.
  8. Meta keywords are the last and least important element.

Off-page

  1. Inbound links from related high ranking sites.
  2. Getting registered on major search engines and web directories.
  3. Reciprocal links from similar websites.
  4. Using web 2.0 like blogs and social networking sites to generate buzz and viral linking.
    For example web 2.0 is good as a source of one way inbound links.

On-page files

  1. .htaccess file to make your URL canonical.
  2. Adding a xml sitemap.
  3. Naming image, audio and video files with site subject related names.
  4. Having a site map page that is linked from the index page.

The importance of on-site SEO

All of the keywords that people search for are on site. Most of the important SEO elements are the ones that are visible like H1 and the URL but there are also to the user invisible files like .htaccess that work in the background that are extremely important. Without proper on site SEO the traffic from the target audience will be severely hurt and the amount of purchases will be greatly decreased.


Title elements

A <title> tag tells both the users of the website and search engines what the subject of the site is. The <title> tag should be placed within the <head> of the document. Ideally, you should create a unique title for each page on your site.
Code example from my website:

<title>Source code: HTML PHP Flash CSS3 - Jonas Grolin</title>

 

H1 and H2 elements

It is best to keep H1 elements close to the page top left. That will make it easier for search engines to find them. The H1 heading should preferably be after the beginning of the body. It is important to avoid using ordinary sentences like “Welcome to my website”. A better SEO use of the H1 would be:

<h1>Free Source Code</h1>

Since the keyword " Free" is at the beginning to the left it will have the highest priority for search engines. The farther to the right the keywords are, the less is there importance.

The keyword "Free" is a commonly searched for keyword and there is therefore a lot of competition to get the traffic that it generates. If your sites PageRank can compete so that you can get on the first page of a Google search with a commonly searched keyword then go for it!
But make sure to check, because I guaranty that no one will find your site on page 400 of a search. With less PageRank a respectable amount of traffic can also be achieved with more niche keywords.

Only use one H1 element per page and one or two H2 element per page.


On-page Anchor text

The anchor text in a link is the visible text that the user can click.
The HTML code would looks something like this:

<a href="http://www.your-domain.org/flash.php"> Anchor Text</a>

Anchor text should be a part of your on-site linking plan. In this case to make the navigation more intuitive for users and Search engines. For example if you have a lot of pages with flash- tutorials, demos and games. Don't just call it <a>How to make Tetris</a> or <a>How to make Tower Defense</a>
call it <a>How to make Tetris in flash</a>. And do this for your whole section about flash.


Domain name and Page URL's

The domain name is the centrol part of your sites address for example (www.mydomainname.com). Using target audience relevant keywords in the domain name is often overlooked when web addresses are selected. If you have a well known and branded organization, that people are specifically searching for, it's not a big deal. For example: Instead of searching for "soft drinks", I'm probably just going to search for Coca-Cola. Now if you're not some big name company, you're going to want to get those keywords into your domain name. Ideally you want your domain name to match your targeted keyword phrase. For example: If I am making script source code, I will want the domain name www.scriptsourcecode.com. Most search engines display the domain name, that matches the phrase searched, on the first page if not at the top of the page. Having your domain name matching your targeted keyword will give you a advantage in comparisons to your competitors.

ALT attribute of images

The ALT attribute is a critical step that is often disregarded. This can be a lost chance for better page rank.

In Google's webmaster guidelines, they recommend the use of alternative text for the pictures on websites:
"Images: Use the alt attribute to provide descriptive text. In addition, we recommend using a human-readable caption and descriptive text around the image."

Why is that important? Because search engine crawlers have the same problem as users that are blind, they can't see the pictures. That is why it's important to write ALT descriptions that can replace the illustrative value of a picture.


Body text: p, li, dt, dd, h3, h4 elements

Because body text has a lower relevance for search engines then H1 and title elements the SEO only works if the keyword density is high enough. That means that it works well if the keywords are written through all the elements in the entire document and if the body text keyword density is around 3 to 5% of your total words per page. The reason why it doesn't have to be mentioned more is to avoid the search engines rating the web-shop negatively for keyword stuffing. Now you don't want to overdo it, but you do want to work them into the regular flow of your page. Also of importance is that the keywords make sense in context of the product being sold or service being rendered. Because the web-shop is made to satisfy the target audience not search engines.


Meta elements

Tekstboks: Example of the placement of description meta. 
            Image of a Google search

The Meta description
What are the merits of description Meta elements?

Description Meta elements are important because search engines might use them as snippets for the pages.
I say might because Google may choose to use a relevant section of the pages visible text if it corresponds to the user's query.

This allows us to give a more meaningful description for listings than might be shown if the search engine was unable to automatically create its own description based on the pages other content.

Nearly all search engines recommend it to be 155 characters of text or less .
Meta descriptions have no influence on page rank.


The meta Keywords

Between 4 to 8 keywords is good. For this Meta element it's actually most important not to use more than 8 keywords because it could be seen as keyword stuffing and can damage page rank. Beyond this Google doesn't use Meta keywords and the Meta keywords are not that important.


Link Building

A central factor in SEO is how many links there are on the Internet that lead back to your site. The more high ranking sites and directories you have linking to your site, the more money you can make. This is central. The reason I say its central is because if you don't have links leading to the site, it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, almost no one will be able to find it.
It's important to create a unique site that will make people want to link to it.

 

Google Algorithms

PageRank

PageRanks out of 100%. site C has a better PageRank than site E, even though it has fewer links to it; the link it has is of a greater importance.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_Rank

Page Rank

If a site is not listed in the first pages of any (for example Google) search, the odds of someone finding it diminishes greatly especially if there are other competitors on the first page. Consequently, getting proper placement on search engines is as important as the site itself. PageRank is mainly important as far as it takes to get your target audience to go to the site and the site to be ranked hire then the competitor’s sites.

A PageRank results from a mathematical algorithm based on the graph created by all World Wide Web pages as nodes and hyperlinks, taking into consideration authority hubs like Wikipedia (however, Wikipedia is actually a sink rather than a hub because it uses rel="nofollow" on external links).

 

 

Google's Trust Rank algorithm

You can Read the TrustRank white paper here

"…we propose techniques to semi-automatically separate reputable, good pages from spam. We first select a small set of seed pages to be evaluated by an expert. Once we manually identify the reputable seed pages, we use the link structure of the web to discover other pages that are likely to be good…."

To sum up how Trust Rank functions, a page is first accepted by a human as being of good quality, or a "seed page." Pages that the seed page links to are identified as good quality pages as well. Pages that are linked to from seed pages get good Trust Rank, and the further a page is from a seed page in the web link composition, the less Rank is forwarded to it.
The seed pages are often web directories and other highly trusted sites that link to good webpage's.
When seed pages are identified, it is simpler to divide spam from quality pages. This is the basic system Trust Rank works by:

  • High quality pages don't link to spam.
  • The amount of trust is diminished as it passes from page to page.
  • The greatest amount of trust is obtained from a seed page itself.

Examples of seed sites:
DMOZ, Search Engine Watch, Yahoo Directory, Microsoft.com

 

 

What is a Web directory?

A web directory is a online directory on the World Wide Web. It works with linking to other websites and categorizing those links.
Having your site included in directories is an excellent way to improve rankings.
A web directory is not a search engine and doesn't display lists of web pages derived from keywords; instead, it lists sites by categories. Mainly web directory entries are also not made by web crawlers but by employees and volunteers. The categorization is typically derived from the whole site rather than one page or a set of keywords. Web directories often allow site owners to submit their site for inclusion, and have editors review submissions for suitability.

 

 


Recommended literature:

Here are some free SEO books to start with.
There are of course some very good publications online:

  1. The Google Search SEO Guide
  2. The Bing’s SEO Guide for Wembasters
  3. The SEO Fast Start Book by Dan Thies
  4. A free SEO book from iBusinessPromoter
  5. The Free SEO Book by SEO Elite