What is SEO?

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? And why should you care?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your web site or blog optimized for search engines. It means getting your site to show up when you do a search in Google, and getting your site to show up as high as possible relative to similar sites.

How is a site optimized? Several factors are taken into account by search engines: incoming links, code, keywords, content.

Let’s start with code. You want to make sure your site has a DOC type tag at the top. Look in your source code to see if it’s there. In Firefox, your source code is in the View menu under ‘Page Source.’ In general, you can check your code by validating the code. A great validator tool: http://validator.w3.org/

Keywords: What are users putting in search engines to find your website or blog post? For example, to find my seaweed post, perhaps someone searched for “seaweed book.” Make sure that keyword is in your <title> tag and, if you are using a meta description tag, in that tag, too. But search engines do not like duplication, so if you have multiple posts on say, seaweed, use different titles and descriptions for each post. Think of related keywords, such as hijiki or kombu, using a thesaurus.

Incoming Links: Who links to you? The term is called link popularity. It’s not just having any old page linking to your post or page, it’s posts with higher ranking than yours and relevant material linking to yours. If you want to find out who is linking to you, type: ‘link: yourdomainname’ into Google. For example: link: www.leoraw.com

Meta Tags and Title Tags: Once again, these are found in your source code. A title tag looks like this <title>. Meta tags related to SEO are description tags and keyword tags. You want to fill these with words that are unique to each page. Your site will be penalized if you have the same title or description throughout your site.

Navigation: Search engines need to be able to crawl your site. They can’t crawl Javascript or Flash menus. So some sites, although looking “professional,” are a bit of a disaster when it comes to search engines. Why bother putting up a website if no one can find it? If you do have fancy links that search engines can’t read, you might just need a side bar or footer with simple links for search engines to navigate.

Content: I put this last, but really, Content is King. If your content is rich, then people will want to read. Search engines love varied language. They can’t (yet) read Flash or imagery, but they can tell when text is varied and distinct.

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Questions? Suggestions? Experiences to relate on this topic?

11 thoughts on “What is SEO?

  • I don’t understand your paragraph about ‘code’. I tried validator but the page result was even more complicated for me to understand.
    When my brother opened his business a few months ago, he asked us to visit their website as often as possible; apparently numerous visits boots your SEO. Do they really?

  • Ilana-Davita, if your site is hosted by WordPress.com, then most of the code is generated by them. I’m not sure if all the hanging <p> tags (and div tags) are what you wrote or from their code. Not closing an <a> tag is probably your own code. You could fix that one. It tells you exactly on what line in the code there is a problem.

    Of course, if you are doing this for business purposes, you are probably better off paying a professional to get your coding right.

    Also, it is not clear how much Google actually penalizes for faulty code. The no DOC type is a big no-no, however.

    I don’t know if many visits helps Google ranking. I’ve never read that anywhere.

  • AscenderRisesAbove, because your art speaks so well! Too bad a search engine doesn’t know that. Maybe you need to eat a thesaurus of descriptive words, and regurgitate a few a day.

    • Michelle, ramblingwoods in Google goes straight to your blog. So you do list (meaning, Google picks up your blog)! But it doesn’t mean you have to go into business.

      Hope to write my Nature’s Notes post tomorrow. On the “to do list.”

    • Sure it’s a good sign. If people are already coming in through Google, maybe you can get them to come back, too.

      Some ideas:
      1) Make your RSS feed more obvious (do you know that you have one? I use it).
      2) Ask for feedback from your viewers. (You do this sometimes).
      3) If they are not anonymous and have a blog, you can visit their sites, too.

      Anyone else have ideas for Batya?

  • For some reason I was mixing up CEO with SEO and I thought SEO had to do with business marketing stuff, so I skipped over all the places where I saw it before.

    So far I don’t have an important site that I want to be found, but it’s an interesting concept, the tips make sense.

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