SEO Basics

Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, is the practice of maximizing traffic to a website by increasing prominence in search engines. SEO has gotten a lot of hype recently, but before you invest time, energy, or money, you should get a clear understanding of what constitutes good SEO writing. Whether you are writing articles for the web or your own website, SEO can be a great marketing tool if it is used correctly.

So, how do you go about it? There are a multitude of techniques out there, but SEO techniques are basically grouped in two categories: white hat and black hat. White hat techniques are those that conform to search engine guidelines and are not deceptive in nature. Black hat techniques – link farms, keyword stuffing, article spinning- are by their very nature deceptive and can often result in banning a website from search engine results. This article focuses on white hat techniques: unique content, keyword optimization, links, and meta tags.

The first and most important tip for SEO is the same rule that applies to any type of writing: good content. Search engines, like editors, are looking for useful and unique information that is clear and accurate. This includes limiting all web pages to a reasonable size and covering only one topic per page. Too much information on a page can slow down the time it takes to load the page and can overwhelm the reader.

Second, make the most of your content by using keyword optimization. As with any writing project, choosing keywords starts with knowing your audience and knowing the goals for your website. Once you have identified who you are trying to reach and what your end objective is, then you can work on how to achieve your goal. Think about what words your audience would use to search for information. Then, choose specific keyword phrases from your list. Each page should have keywords specific to that page’s topic as well as keyword phrases that represent the entire site. After you have identified the keywords, make sure they are sprinkled throughout the text wherever it fits the content, but don’t overuse them. There really can be too much of a good thing.

Third, make the most of hyperlinks. Make sure that you cross link between pages of the website. Also, include hyperlinks intended to help people find interesting, related content when applicable. Just like keywords, you don’t want to overuse links. Only use them if they enhance the value of the website content.

Finally, utilize meta tags properly. The descriptive title attribute should include a keyword phrase that is a descriptive and accurate representation of the entire site and should be used throughout. Also, use the meta tag description attribute by writing a concise explanation of the web page’s content, preferably shorter than 400 words. It should include the keyword phrases. Finally, use the alternate text attribute for photos, which helps with both search engine prominence and accessibility for the disabled.

If you truly want to increase your website’s prominence without going to extreme measures, then you should follow a few simple rules:

Write unique content.
Use keywords appropriately in content and meta tags.
Cross link between pages of the website.
Follow the guidelines of major search engines.
Register with search engines.

For more information on ways to improve your search engine ranking, here are links to SEO guidelines from a few of the top search engine providers:

Today’s Tip: Getting Started in Social Media

Navigating Social Media

“Many companies’ forays into social media yield nothing more than wasted time and effort. Before you establish a company Twitter account or start a Facebook page, step back and think about what messages will be relevant to your customers or potential customers.

If your brand and your communications aren’t useful or interesting to them, you might as well be tweeting into a black hole. Start by understanding the conversations that are already happening around your brand.

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