SEO Best Practice Guidelines
Anyone who saw the movie Field of Dreams will remember the famous quote, "If you build it, they will come." So you've built your website, and now you want people to come to your website, right? But how do you get people to find your website? The best way is by optimizing your website for search engines. Below are some Do's and Dont's to assist with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
- Develop good content: Good content speaks for itself. If you don't have compelling content, everything else listed below is useless. Good content will attract more visitors to your site, and this will drive up your rankings.
- Keyword research: Make sure you are using good keywords and phrases that are relevant to your content. Your keywords should reflect what a user would type into a search engine to find your site.
- Title Tags: Use relevant Title Tags for your pages. The keywords used in your Title Tag help search engines to understand what the content on your page is about. The Title Tag is also the very first thing presented to a user when your site appears in Google's search results, so this is a user's first impression of your site. Google presents about 65 characters of text.
- Incoming Links: One of the most important things you can do is have good incoming links. An incoming link is a link to your site from someone else's site. A "good incoming link" is a link from a quality, respected source. People used to think that the number of incoming links was the most important factor, but that is no longer the case. The quality of an incoming link is more important than the quantity of links. Again, having good content comes into play here, and building up quality links will take time. But, the better your content is, the more likely someone of value will link to you.
- Keyword Density: Keyword Density is the percentage of times your keyword is used versus the total number of words on the page. In the early days of SEO, the number of times your keyword appeared on your page was an important factor in how your page would rank. This resulted in the blatant overuse of keywords, also known as "keyword stuffing." Search engines caught onto this practice and now place less weight on the number of times a keyword is used. In fact, these days, keyword stuffing can result in your site being penalized by search engines. So use your keywords, but use them wisely. A good keyword density is about 5%.
- Meta Description Tags: A lot of people believe that Meta Tags are no longer important, but research has shown that this is not the case. Your Meta Description Tag is often displayed to users in Google's search results. A Meta Description Tag containing a summary of what the page is about can convince the user to visit your site, or they may move on to the next result. If the Meta Description is applicable to what they are searching for, chances are they will click through to your site.
- Heading Tags: Another factor that search engines use in indexing your site is your Heading Tags. Make sure you are using good descriptive keywords and correct heading structure (for example, use an H1 for the title of the page, and then H2 for sub headings, H3, etc.). Search engines place more value on H1's versus H2's or H3's, but search engines frown upon the overuse of H1's. Limit your use of H1's to one per page.
- Internal Linking: Everyone talks about the importance of incoming links in relation to SEO, but your own Internal Linking structure can also help you when it comes to SEO. Make sure your site incorporates an easy to use, circular linking architecture, making it easy for users (and search engines) to find things on your site. Use good anchor text in your links, with relevant keywords.
- Site Map: Make sure you have an updated Site Map. Think of it as an online "Table of Contents" for your site. This will help search engines crawl and index your site.
- Use deceptive keywords or Meta Tags.
- Buy links.
- Keyword stuff.
- Use hidden text.
- Steal content.