What I learned about SEO

SEO

I took a great SEO class at Stanford Continuing Studies. Here are some of the things I learned that put things in prospective.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about planning, you start by defining how you want people to find you on the web. Brainstorming and defining the keywords you want to be found by is going to be the foundation for all the engine optimization work you’ll do.

Set up Goals – define what you sell, who your customers are, and how best to reach them.

Keywords – with goals in mind, identify the best keywords for your company and measure your rank on Google searches. Remember that you want your website to show up at least on page one (first ten results) and ideally in the first three results of a Google search.

Optimizing:

1. First step is looking at your HTML and strategically placing your keywords in the right page tags so the search engine will recognize it.  Main tags are: <TITLE>, <H1>, <A HREF>, <META DESCRIPTION>, <BODY> or keyword density, <IMG ALT>, <STRONG>, <B>.

Page tags communicate to Google what your page is “about” on a priority basis. Note: If you are using WordPress or another web editor, the editor will produce the HTML for you, but you still want to “View, Source” to check that the HTML produced actually outputs keywords inside critical tags like the <TITLE>, <H1>, <META DESCRIPTION>, etc.

2. On page linking: When you write sentences, make sure keywords you care about in those sentences link back to your page. Where possible, add keyword heavy links on your site navigation to your major landing pages. Keyword heavy <A HREF> tags tell Google which pages are most important on your site, and which keywords matter to you.

3. Off page linking: After you set everything up with your own page, it’s time to ask other websites to link to you to improve the importance of your website, a search engine needs to recognize your website among million others, especially when it’s a common keyword.

Keep in mind about links:

Syntax – the best links have good syntax with your “keyword / keyphrase” nested inside the <A HREF> tag as in <A HREF=“http://www.yoursite.com/”>your target keyword</A>

Authority – the best links come from high PageRank websites inside your community.

Quantity – the best links occur in substantial quantities. More is better.

4. Blog: The search engine likes fresh updated content, by creating new content you expand the number of times you will be found in search queries. Blogging with keywords in mind is a powerful tool to get you to the top of Google. Moreover, your blog can connect to your social media strategy as a “long read” to complement the “short reads” on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Steps to good SEO blogging:

  1. Define your target keyword / keyphrase. Blogging is especially good at long tail keywords and/or trends in your industry. Be a trend watcher.
  2. Write a blog post that is keyword heavy, i.e., contains frequent repetition of the core keywords and help keywords.
  3. Make sure that the blog post itself follows SEO-friendly page tags, i.e., TITLE tag with keywords inside it, good META DESCRIPTION tag, H1/H2 tag, Image ALT, <STRONG>, etc.
  4. Upload the blog post to your website.
  5. Rotate three blog posts on your home page as “freshness signals” to Google, and also to pull Google into your blog.

5. Social media is a plus especially the high traffic websites like Twitter, FB. And in Google’s case, G+ is the social child Google wants to promote ;). You can write your own content linking to your site, or you can do this trategy I learned:

Google and Bing now pay increasing attention to “social mentions,” i.e. the mentions of your website URL in the social chatter. Go to Bing Social (http://www.bing.com/social), input your keywords and identify the top Twitterers and Facebook posters that share content in your keyword communities. Reach out to them to see if they are interested in your blog posts, news releases, new products or services. Make getting social mentions a part of your SEO strategy.

Once you implement your SEO strategies you are pretty much set. Of course fresh blog or social media content is on an on going basis. But as long as you still care about the same keywords and you have an increasing amount of websites link to yours, your SEO will keep improving.