Many IM veterans will nod their head in agreement when I say that SEO has got to be one of the most over-complicated pieces of the internet marketing puzzle. SEO is not complicated, nor is it difficult. It is simple, methodical, and it's anyone with any amount of technical aptitude can learn how it works.
I'm going to assume that you've already built a website before. If not, PM me and I will get you started on how to build a website.
There are two components of SEO: on-site factors (page titles, content, etc.) and off-site factors (links and citations). That's it. This post is going to be talking about the on-site factors.
The Importance of On-Site Optimization
On-site SEO is approximately 15%-20% of what SEO is. In other words, on-site SEO on its own is unlikely to get a website ranked for competitive keyword terms. However, on-site SEO is an important part of SEO and should be completed diligently.
Important on-site SEO factors:
- Page title - Should be accurate and unique for each individual page and contain the keyphrase. If your desired keyword is "Toronto Vet Clinic", your page title might be "Your Toronto Vet Clinic | YOURSITE.COM".
- Page URL - Should be easy to follow, no more than two layers deep, and have the keyword (if possible). For example, http://www.yoursite.com/page1.html is not nearly as good as http://www.yoursite.com/search-engin...tion-help.html
- Page description - Should be concise and accurate. Do not keyword stuff. Make this appealing to the user and encourage them to click it. If you're a vet clinic in Toronto, a description could be: "Your Toronto Vet Clinic since 2004, specializing in general veterinary services for Toronto and area."
- Keyword density - Shoot for a keyword density of 2%-5%. Do not keyword stuff your content.
- Proper use of H1/H2/H3 tags - Use them sparingly and where appropriate. Make them keyword reach but still readable to the user.
- Internal linking - Link to other pages of your site where appropriate. Follow good linking practices (keyword for anchor text, no more than 5 words long, etc.)
- Alt text on images - Put the keyword in the alt text for images.
- 301 redirects of old/antiquated pages - If a page has moved make sure you have a 301 redirect in place. This tells the search engines the page it's looking for has moved permanently.
- Appropriate use of .htaccess file - Make sure that your site is set up so that http;//yoursite.com automatically redirects to http://www.yoursite.com.
- Meta tags - Not as important as they once were, but put keywords in the meta tags that describe the page.
- XML/Static sitemap - XML for search engines, static for users. Helps with internal linking.
- Appropriate amount of content - Shoot for a minimum of 250 words per page.
These are the fundamentals that will make the biggest difference in your ranking. Once you have these ironed out you can start to fine-tune your on-site SEO strategy.
Make sure that every element of the page compliments the other ones. For example, if your page title is "Basic SEO tips", make sure the url is yoursite.com/basic-seo-tips, that the H1/H2/H3 tags are related to the keyword, etc. Keep everything consistent!
Lastly, and probably most importantly, build your site so that your user can use it easily. Increasing your user experience, along with decreasing your bounce rate, will help with your rankings.
Hope this basic primer helps.
EDIT: Just noticed that WF parsed one of my example links. Hover over the links to see their true path.