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Top 5 SEO Techniques for Beginners

by Melissa Smich on August 21, 2009

SEO Cartoon - White Hat SEO Firm

Don’t you want to see your website at the top of the Google search? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of adjusting your website to make it search engine friendly. Every search engine has  a similar searching and indexing algorithm,  and SEO is the “art” of using that to your benefit. Below are a few tips to get you started. You may notice that even the simplest changes can increase your ranking dramatically.

  1. Content is still King
    Content is the most important factor for SEO. The general rule is to write content for your visitors, not what you think the Search Engines want you to write. And remember, if you’re selling blue widgets, you don’t want your content to be about green gadgets, even if they are more popular. You want the appropriate content so that when visitors finally make it to your site, they will easily convert to customers! 

    And when you’re writing your content, make sure it is different from page to page, and don’t “borrow” too much content from other sources. If you have duplicate content all over the place, it will be devalued!

  2. Page Titles and URLs
    Your page titles (contained within the <title> and </title> tags) should contain accurate description of the content on the page. Make sure you use different titles on every page, so you don’t face any duplicate content penalties. Try to avoid keyword stuffing, just use the most relevant keywords for that page and keep it short. Most search engines have a length limit, so you’ll want to keep it around 60 characters or less. 

    Also, when you name your pages make sure you use your keywords in the URL. You should separate the keywords using dashes or underscores. For example:

    http://www.website.com/blue-widgets/, or

    http://www.website.com/green_gadgets/.

  3. External and Internal Links
    There is a basic explanation behind this, the more web sites that are linking to you the more search engines will think that you have valuable or authoritative content. And as a result your ranking will increase. And if the higher ranked sites link you you, that gives you even more of a boost. For example, a link from a spammy looking directory with a Page Rank of 2 or 3 is not likely to help you very much. But a link from a Page Rank 8 or 9 “.edu” site can do wonders!  Linking to good sites may also help. And always remove your broken internal links to be sure that engine spiders will be able to navigate to and index all of your pages.
  4. Description Meta Tags
    Some search engines display the content from the <meta title=”description” content=”type-description-here”> tag under your link in the search results page. Be sure that it contains a good description of the content on each page. Be sure to include your keywords and keep the length restrictions in mind. It should be a shortened version of the content on the page, using your keywords and clear call to action.
  5. Be aware of important HTML tags and attributes
    When building the content on your web pages, using tags such as <h1> and <h2> around your headings. Generally you want to ensure that your keywords are within these tags. The general rule of thumb is to use one <h1> per page. Also, if you are text linking to other pages within your site, make sure you put your link around the relevant keywords, not terms like “click here”. Finally, if you are adding images and image links, you can use the ALT attribute to describe the content of the image. This is good for SEO, but is also good for accessibility.

If you haven’t put any thought into SEO before, this should be enough to get you started on Optimizing your site. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, there is always more you can do and new ideas and techniques arise every day. If you have any other recommendations for beginners, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Related posts:

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  3. Search Engine Optimization 101: On-Page SEO
  4. Search Engine Optimization 201: Off-Page SEO Issues
  5. Social Media and SEO

{ 19 comments }

Chicago SEO March 25, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Good, list, got any more advanced stuff?

Melissa Smich March 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM

did you want to contribute to the blog with more advanced stuff?

Rusher May 27, 2010 at 8:33 AM

I didn’t realize that duplicate material was devalued by the search engines, but I’m glad that it is! Web designers should be rewarded for original content.

Jason Hein June 22, 2010 at 10:59 AM

I do agree that quality content is king. Thanks for sharing this post. If you get the chance, feel free to visit my site.

azure July 8, 2010 at 1:16 AM

I’m with you that links to good sites are enormously helpful.

Bobby Stevens July 11, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Great advice, im just starting to look into SEO and its hard to find reliable stuff :) Cheers

Branko's Seo Techniques August 7, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Thanks for these seo tips for beginners!
Here you have short description of what you have to do to build seo optimized sites correctly.
In your offpage optimization build your links from sites with high PR or .edu, .org, .gov sites which are based on your topic or main keyword used on your site.
Best wishes!

Tanmay October 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Very nice tips for the SOE biginner.As a new comer in this SOE world I will mustbe benificial from thiss

Thanks.

David October 17, 2010 at 11:26 PM

To our best efforts to do SEO DIY or through SEO experts, there is indeed an awful lot of mis-information on SEO. To boot, it is a moving target because Google continues to change and they don’t divulge the changes.

iridium phone hire November 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM

I keep listening to the news speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.

billy December 8, 2010 at 6:41 AM

these guys are excellent at seo, they have some good techniques too. http://www.seo-quotes.com.au/

PotsNPans February 3, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Thanks for the link, billy. It’s definitely important to keep studying SEO as it is certainly a moving target as David said.

Stoddard February 10, 2011 at 3:41 PM

I think I need to take a few classes in SEO…anyone offering any?

Prince Zermic March 15, 2011 at 2:12 PM

If you are a beginner and like to learn about SEO, you should start using any free SEO tool. Learn about its features by reading its guide; this will help you to build good understanding about SEO techniques. Apart from this, there are certain free online courses on SEO which can help you to learn SEO quickly.

QR Code March 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Page titles are key for highly targeted keywords. Links still remain king though.

smith April 2, 2011 at 10:55 PM

Thanks for the tips. Students in universities who can post links to .edu blogs are probably sitting on decent amounts of cash, eh? Certainly enough to cover some books, a few brews, and a date or two out to sit down food joints.

Gonna have to see who I know still in school…

Stoddard June 29, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Interesting point about .edu blogs. Wish this kind of thing was around when I was in school.

OfftheWall September 7, 2011 at 4:10 AM

@Smith: Most of my dates in college were at fast-food joints, and even those stretched my poor wallet!

Texas2Step September 29, 2011 at 9:10 AM

I hope the day comes when Google does decide to divulge its ranking methods, or at least offer us some more hints.

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