Search engine optimization (SEO) is something every business owner wants to know more about, but many aren’t sure where to begin.
For starters, there are a few key pieces of information that may seem small but can make all the difference when it comes to your search ranking.
Proper page titles
Page titles create a website’s first impression. Without a proper introduction, the content might never reach the targeted user. The first step in creating proper page titles is using the title tag section of your page’s HTML document.
The HTML document is a specific text document that browsers use to present the text and graphics of a website. It can be created in an editing program or a specific HTML editor, such as Adobe Dreamweaver. For those using WordPress, the HTML document can be found in the editing dashboard under “Text.”
The title tag tells search engines what the page topic is. This tag is located in the <head> section of the HTML document beginning with <title> and ending with </title>
and ending wit
. The actual title of the page is placed between those tags. The key is to create a unique title for each page within the site so that when search engines crawl the site they can accurately report the website’s content to the search database.
The page title will appear in search results and help users decide whether that page is worth looking at. Effectively using page titles to gain user attention means accurately describing the content that lives on that specific page. Do not try to appeal to search engines by adding extra fluff that has no relation to the actual content.
Lengthy titles full of unnecessary keywords confuse search engines more than they improve search optimization. Accurately describe the page without excessive wording, and create a unique title for each page.
Linking with text
Anchor text is text that is hyperlinked to direct a user to a separate internal or external page. The language used in the anchor text is important, because it tells the user and Google what the page you are linking to is all about.
If the link is confusing or mislabeled, such as a health food link
that actually leads to exercise routines, the user won’t click on it and Google will sort the content of the link inappropriately. The theory is that if users can easily navigate the website, so can Google, which then understands and displays the site accurately in search results.
Your links should be displayed through concise and descriptive anchor text
. The basic idea about the contents of the linked page should be conveyed without being wordy. Often this can be accomplished with a few words or a short phrase. Anchor text is vital to explaining external links, yet it might be even more imperative for internal links.
Using links within a site to redirect to other internal pages greatly helps Google decipher content, especially when described properly. It is important to ensure that links are easily spotted within a content block so that the time spent perfecting anchor text is not lost.
Have good content
Content is the most influential search engine optimization tool available. If a site contains high-quality content, it will organically increase search recognition, which is perceived by many as the best type of SEO.
Unique, specialized, or simply interesting content is what users are looking for. Good information tends to be shared through social media, blogs, email, forums, and many other online locations.
As in business, nothing is more powerful than word-of-mouth buzz to build a website’s reputation. When Google is able to recognize this buzz, search results improve greatly.
A few ways to ensure that Web content is as good as it can be are to use a mix of specialized jargon and simple language, create digestible content, and provide unique content that targets a specific audience.
There will be both experts and novices searching for specific content, and understanding the different ways these two groups use language helps make it easier for users and search engines to find the site by generating keywords both audiences are looking for.
Keywords are nearly impossible to interpret if the content isn’t easy to read. Information should be organized and well written, free of grammatical errors. Have someone else proofread the content before it gets posted to catch any mistakes. Little errors can ruin a site’s reliability and can confuse search engine crawlers.
Freshness is essential
The final and most important aspect of content creation is providing information that is fresh and unique for users. Search engines don’t read content for fun; users do, and they like it to be new and interesting. Reciting old information without a fresh look or spin doesn’t add value to any website.
Creating fresh content brings new visitors and keeps existing users returning for more information. The job of any search engine is to find content that benefits the user. Plugging in unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines won’t help optimize the site, and it annoys users.
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This information may seem like Website 101, but it truly makes a difference when it comes to improving SEO. Basic steps such as writing concisely and descriptively, signaling titles in the HTML document, and creating content that users want to read and share are the areas that most enhance SEO.
Stephanie Myers is an account coordinator at The Abbi Agency, a PR and digital communications firm in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieAMyers, as well as the agency @theabbiagency. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency's blog.