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Simple SEO Strategies for Newbies

April 18th, 2007

If you are a new webmaster who is trying to gain good rankings in the search engines by looking into SEO strategies, then you have probably figured out that this particular area of website development can become quite complicated. In order to simplify things, I have briefly listed below ten simple strategies that you can use in order to optimize your site for Google’s search engine algorithm.

1. Use your favorite keywords in the title tags and the body of your content

Having keywords in the title of your page is one of the most important relevance factors that Google looks at when ranking pages in its results. Be careful not to use the same keyword more than once in the title and/or meta tags, however; this will dilute their value and may be seen as “spammy”.

2. Use targeted keywords in the URL

Whenever possible, inserting keywords into the URL itself can be helpful not only for rankings but also for CTR (click through rate) because the keywords will show up in bold green letters in the results. You can do this in HTML by simply using your favorite keyword as the file name of your page so that your URL reads “http://yourdomain.com/keyword.html”. For Wordpress blogs, you can insert the relevant keywords by manually editing the post slug before you publish the page and/or choosing the “pretty” permalink structure from the options in your admin panel.

3. Publish more high quality content

Both quantity and quality are important here. Having more pages on your site is a good thing because it gives you more chances to gain listings in the results and also means more keywords that you can potentially rank well for and from which you can draw traffic. However, it is also important that the actual content of your pages is of high quality and relevance. Not only does Google reward this in the rankings, but also your visitors will appreciate this and be more likely to visit your site again later.

4. Use easy-to-navigate internal links

This is another thing that is important for both users and search engines. Using logical, easily followed links to other pages within your site will help the search engine spiders crawl your site more easily and index your pages properly- a sitemap is good for this. Most users will like this also because it allows them to access your content more quickly so that they do not waste time trying to figure out how to navigate your site.

5. Link to high quality sites that are relevant to your topic

If you link to other sites that have a high PR (page rank) and are generally well trusted, this will demonstrate to the search engines that your site is useful and that you are able to refer visitors to legitimate sites that provide them with relevant information. At the same time, you should avoid linking to sites that are known for using spam tactics and/or constitute link farms (i.e., pages with lots of links but no real content); Google may penalize you for this if it happens too often.

6. Try to get inbound links from high quality sites

Your link popularity, defined by the number and quality of links that point to your site, is one of the major factors in determining search engine rankings. Gaining inbound links can be a rather difficult task for a very new site because most other site owners will be reluctant to link to you. In order to overcome this hurdle, you can use methods such as article syndication or even hosted content. If you have the resources, you can also pay for links, but it is wise to make sure that the other site is legitimate and the links that you receive actually work.

7. Use relevant anchor text for your links

Whenever possible, try to make sure that the text that is used to link to your site is relevant to its topic (or at least to the topic of the page). Many SEO experts also believe that the relevance of the text surrounding both inbound and outbound links is becoming an important factor in the rankings as search engines become more semantic. Using relevant text for your outbound links is a good practice anyway because other site owners that are aware of SEO considerations will appreciate this and will be more likely to link to your site in the future.

8. Sooner is better than later

The age of a site is an important factor for most search engines. This includes not only the age of the domain, but also the age of your indexable content and your inbound links. The age factor is especially important for newer sites; for the first year or so, it will be more difficult to rank well for any moderately popular keywords. This means that you should not procrastinate when registering your domain name and getting content published and indexed. If you can start your site and get content published today, you will have a distinct advantage over someone who waits until next year to build his/her site even if both sites have the same quality of content.

9. Be sure that your hosting service is reliable

Obviously, if you hope to make money from your website, visitors need to be able to access it. This is true for SEO considerations also. Although minor technical problems generally will not hurt you much, if your site is down for more than a few days, you run the risk of search engines dropping you from the listings. If this happens, it will take time to build your rankings back up again and you will lose revenue in the process. Therefore, you should make sure that your hosting company provides consistent and reliable service. If the hosting company is sufficiently incompetent in this, you may need to switch hosts.

10. Always avoid duplicate content whenever possible

Duplicate content can be a major problem for website owners. If any of your pages have substantially duplicate content, Google will remove them from its regular index and place them in the “supplemental index”. Effectively, this means that these pages will not be accessible by normal visitors except in the very unlikely event that a visitor performs an exact search query for your specific domain. Therefore, you should always strive to provide original content instead of simply copying and pasting content from another website. If a sufficiently large portion of your site contains duplicate content, it is possible for Google to penalize your entire domain in the rankings. A small amount of (often unavoidable) duplicate content is acceptable, however; this includes things like privacy policies, standard copyright disclaimers, e-commerce shopping cart interfaces, and very common words and phrases.


3 Responses to “Simple SEO Strategies for Newbies”

  1. comment number 1 by: Sam Kern

    This is really a great article for newbies to get started with SEO. I think that point 6 and 7 are really powerful and these determine 90% of Search Engine placement.

    Just would like one more tip :

    11. Try to include your keyword in your domain. A great majority of top ranking in Google search results actually have websites where the domain has the keyword e.g. a search for “Affiliate Elite” will reveal in the top 10 domains like Affiliateelite.com, affiliateelite.net, affiliateelite.org

  2. comment number 2 by: Karlonia

    Yes, the “keyword in domain” strategy is a good idea for a niche site if one can find a suitable name that is still available. I have read differing opinions about exactly how much effect this has on rankings, but it probably doesn’t hurt.

    The alternative to this is to choose something as a brand name and market this until it becomes recognizable by a significant portion of the population. Amazon.com is a classic example of this. In the blogging world, Steve Pavlina might be another, although I don’t really know if he actually set out to “brand” his own name or not.

  3. comment number 3 by: Dedicated Hosting

    Keyword in domain is usually a VERY good tactic- combined with a quality SEO campaign it is extremely hard to top.

    Excellent point about the hosting. I find its best either to go with a dedicated host or a VPS, so you can guarantee that what other people are doing on their hosting accounts won’t interfere with the operation of your site. All too often a runaway script on a shared host will take down dozens of sites on the same box.

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