10 Simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Ideas to Improve Your Ranking
One of the simplest ways to improve your site's worth and ranking is to ensure your site is search engine optimized (SEO). SEO is the process of improving your site so that your content is attractive to major search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN) and also targeted for the types of keywords you want your site to come up for. Taking the time to improve your site's SEO can increase your inlinks and pagelinks and also help you get more visitors who are searching for the content your site has to offer. Here are some very basic SEO techniques you can apply immediately to improve your site:
1. Clean up your page titles. Throughout your site, the titles of your pages should say a lot about the content that page contains. Make sure your titles are clear, contain keywords for your page, and also emphasize the content of that page. Also, remember that search engines use the title you enter as the link when your site comes up in search results. Make sure your title is catchy enough and targeted enough to encourage people to click.
2. Use heading tags the way they were meant to be used. In the HTML markup of your pages, you have the option to set several levels of heading such as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, etc. These tags have a sort of hierarchy to them. H1 is more important than H2 which is more important than H3 etc etc. Use this principal in setting up your page layout. Use H1 for your most important text, such as the heading for your page. Use H2 for the next most popular, and so on. Don't overdo it either, use the heading tags sparingly on only your heading worth content (most likely containing the keywords for your page as well).
3. Take advantage of alt and title tags in your URLs and images. When creating an image or link within your HTML, you have the option of including a TITLE attribute in URLs and an ALT attribute to1 images. Use these fields to add additional text about the link/image. This text is picked up by search engine spiders and can add to the keyword content of your pages.
4. Make sure your navigation is available at the top and bottom of all your pages. If you want search engines and your readers to find their way through your site, you have to make it easy for them. In addition to putting standard navigation at the top of the page, consider also placing it at the bottom in your footer. The more ways Google can find their way through your site, the better chance you have of getting all your pages showing up in their index.
5. Use mod_rewrite to clean up your nasty web addresses. Using a tool known as mod_rewrite, you can make a substantial improvement to the URLs of the pages within your site. Instead of a URL that looks like: http://www.mysite.com/goto.php?page=12345 you can change it to http://www.mysite.com/page/how-to-do-somthing.html. This is much easier for search engines to follow and also can contain keywords that can guide them to a better analysis of the content your site contains. You can get details on how mod_rewrite works by checking out this beginners tutorial.
6. Use keywords in the addresses of your pages. Closely complimenting point 5 above, adding keywords to the addresses of your pages can make a big difference. When setting up your site structure, keep that in mind. For example, if you have a site about apples, rather than having a URL like: http://www.mysite.com/page/page1.html change it to something like http://www.mysite.com/granny-smith/granny-smith-orchards-in-california.html where the content of the page is somewhat represented by the address of the page.
7. Make sure you take advantage of meta tags like keywords and descriptions. Many sites often overlook meta tags. There are a large number of these tags you can add to your html pages to help give search engines a better idea of what's in your site. Two tags in particular, the description and keywords tags, allow you to write a description of each page and also list relevant keywords contained within your site. Use these on every page of your entire site.
8. Create and maintain a sitemap. If you want Google or Yahoo to index your entire site, one of the best ways to do that is to tell them what pages are in your site. Sitemaps are a really simple listing of every single page within your site. For more information, check out the sitemap entry in Wikipedia. If you create and maintain a sitemap for your site, the search engines will easily find all your content.
9. Block duplicate content with robots.txt. Duplicate content on a site can be really bad when it comes to ranking well within search engines. If the structure of your site results in a lot of duplicated content (for example, having summaries on one page of a blog and full articles on another) you can actually be penalized by Google for it. Using the robots.txt file, you can tell Google and other search spiders what content you want read, and what content you want ignored. For more information on robots.txt, check out this beginners tutorial.
10. Make sure your pages contain the keywords you want to rank highly with. While it may seem obvious, you'd be surprised how many people overlook this point. If you have a page about granny smith apples, and you want it to rank highly for the phrase granny smith apples, you have to actually use those words often within the content of your site/page. Don't overdo it, but make sure it's obvious to a computer algorithm reading your site (such as Google's content spider) that the main context of a particular page is granny smith apples.
These are just a few simple ideas on how to optimize your website for search engines. For literally hundreds of other ideas such as these and many others, that you can IMMEDIATELY put to use on your website and start seeing results, learn from those who know it best by picking up the SEOBook at SEOBook.com. SEO can help you make the most of your existing website and over time drastically improve on the estimated value of your sites worth.