The Basics of Good Optimization: Part 1


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips are written everywhere, but if followed correctly and incorporated into site development, decent positioning can still be attained for Google’s organic or free search results. There are two areas to cover; “on page” factors and “off page” factors. Let’s take a look at the on page factors first:

On Page Factors
Your domain name is the first thing to influence your SERP (search engine result position). Obviously it gets harder to get a domain name that includes the major keywords, but if you have a specific niche, try and work it into the domain. You can use hyphens (they are counted as spaces by the spiders), but according to a recent afternoon I spent with one of the Google engineers, you should limit it to 2 hyphens for best results.

After the domain name comes the "TITLE" tag. Here the approach is to start from the left and work your way out. Separate each keyword or keyword phrase with a comma. It’s usually recommended that you work three keywords or phrases. Since you are going to have to use each of them 10 times in your copy, any more will just dilute the overall ranking for the terms.

Other META tags are not counted by Google (except where they are used as part of a directory listing at Yahoo or other links - which will be explained more in off page factors). However, since there are other engines that do still factor them in, you should include them. Again, start with the three main keywords or phrases; do not over do it as there is a diminishing return and it will lessen the impact of the front keywords. The description should rework the keywords, and for effective Inktomi optimization, you should repeat the description at the start of your body text.

Learn to use style sheets. If you are using CCS (cascading style sheets) then do not place them in the head tag; make a separate sheet and link to it. Similarly create a style sheet for your JavaScript.

Optimizing Body Content
If you are not using tables, then you start with a H1 tag at the top. This can be made to look however you want with the right style instructions on your style sheet. Use the three keyword phrases.

Then have a paragraph that restates the description you have in the header. It is the start of the text where you should use each of your keyword phrases 10 times. Use them as headings for paragraphs that describe the keyword phrases and use them as straight text.

If you use tables as many of us do, here is a good tip for getting the main text closer to the top. If you use a header try and limit it to images and load your keywords into the alt tag of the image. All images should have alt tags that use your keywords.

Now normally when you place your nav bar on the left, spiders see it before the body text. To avoid this, place an empty table cell there first. This will allow the main text cell to be next and the nav bar to follow it but still be on the left where you want it.

All these are obvious, and if you have read any articles on optimization there is basically nothing new here. But if you follow these steps you will improve your rankings on the search engines. Look for the second installment regarding “off page” factors where there may be a few tips not covered by the regular articles...