I have the good fortune of belonging to an informal business support group. We meet for breakfast to talk about how we are using social media to publicize our companies. For the gathering this month, I suggested we learn about Search Engine Optimization – a concept generating a lot of buzz these days. I don't know much about Search Engine Optimization, but marketing gurus insist it is the pathway to a successful website.
Anything related to the internet boggles my mind, so I thought Search Engine Optimization for Dummies seemed like a good place to start http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/search-engine-optimization-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html
Generally speaking, SEO refers to the visibility each website has for search engines such as Google. The name of the game is to get the highest ranking possible on a given search engine to increase the chance of people clicking on your website. Using effective keywords and including lots of links in your content can increase the chances of getting on the first or second page of a search engine.
How can an ordinary person optimize the search for their websites? Here's an easy tip: ensure that specific keywords are part of the URL. For example, my website is http://www.yikesaudiobook.com
which contains the title of my project and identifies it as an audio book. I then registered my website with major search engines such as Google and Bing.
The tags for web pages are important too, and this is where it can get confusing. There is a difference between a Meta Tag and a Title Tag but both are important tools for helping search engines identify what a website is about. I thought this article did a good job of explaining how the different tags work http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2067564/How-To-Use-HTML-Meta-Tags
From what I gather, tags do not determine website rankings, but a tag can appear on a search results page.
Using links within blog or web content can also increase visibility. Done correctly, key links will make it more likely that search engines will find a certain page. As a general rule, it's best to use keywords in the file name, tags, subheadings and multiple times throughout the body of the page. If possible, use keywords in your links. Here is an article about selecting the best keywords for content links http://www.linksmart.com/how-to-pick-the-best-keywords-for-in-content-links-in-your-posts/
For most people, trying to sort through all this technical information is frustrating. There are a number of companies who claim to understand Search Engine Optimization, but this is where it pays to do a little homework. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hacks out there who can spew some impressive internet jargon, but that doesn't guarantee they can increase the rank for a website. My advice is to start with a generic government website such as HowTo.gov http://www.howto.gov/web-content/search/seo
Even if the riddle of Search Engine Optimization isn't solved in one day, it is an issue worth exploring for anyone who wants their content on the web to be easily discovered.