Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of making your website rank high in the search engines for selected keywords. A keyword is anything that a user could type into a search engine. Why would you want to rank high for certain keywords in search engines? Money is the number one reason. If you have the #1 position for mortgage loans, you can make tens of millions of dollars a day. Some people like to control search results so they can publicize their opinions- if you control the #1 spot on Google for the keyword “George Bush”, you will be a significant influence on the millions of people who search for information on him. Whatever your reason for wanting to control search results, I will give you the basics to rank well.
The two most important factors in determining the way websites rank in the three primary search engines (Google, Live and Yahoo) are links and copy. Links are anything you can click on that takes you to another webpage. Copy is the text you read on the page, and the title tags, meta tags, alt image tags, etc.
Links are important in rankings because Google looks at links as “votes”. Basically, every time you link to a page you are saying that you like the content on it and your visitors should check it out. The more quality links you have, the better Google thinks your website is.
Your copy needs to include the keywords you want to rank for. Let’s say that I am making a website selling street drugs. The website’s home page needs to have lots of mentions of the category keyword I targetting: “Street drugs are sold here at discount prices. Nowhere else can you get hardcore street drugs that are as pure and uncut as you will find here. Our street drugs will get you higher than anyone else’s in the street drug industry. The street drugs sold here include marijuana, methamphetamines, crack cocaine, cocaine, speed, LSD, mushrooms and many others….” It’s also important not just to repeat the keywords randomly, but to offer valuable content to your users. After all, when people come to the site if they think it is spammy or not useful, they will just leave again. My example may even have repeated the keywords too much; you need to use your discretion.
It is very important to include your keywords in other areas that users usually don’t see: the meta tags, title tags and alt image tags. If you click View then Source Page, you will see the html that makes up the page. Meta tags are tags that tell the search engine what your webpage is about, the title tags are the words that are placed on the bar at the top next to the close, minimize and maximize buttons and the alt image tags are for visually impaired readers who use special software so they know what the images you have are of. Below is a simplified example of what you will see and where you should insert these tags:
<html> <head> <title>Street Drugs: The best in meth, crack, coke and LSDtitle>
<meta name="description" content="Hardcore Street Drugs can be purchased here"> <meta name="keywords" content="Street drugs, crack, cocaine, LSD">
<p> Page content that user's can see: "Street drugs..."
<img src="images/top.gif" width="780" height="75" alt="Hardcore street drug photographs">
The rest of your site needs to be optimized as well. So if you have different sections selling meth, coke and pot, you should pick one or two keywords per page and fully optimize the pages for those keywords.
Needless to say, this is a very brief overview and there is a lot more that goes into search engine optimization that I haven’t discussed yet. If you have questions, go ahead and ask in the comments. I will be bringing more in depth lessons soon