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Search engines assess many different factors in calculating search engine rankings, and if you follow this blog, you’ll get plenty of good advice on which factors are the most important, and what tactics will get the most SEO bang out of your online marketing dollars.
And never forget this: The single most important factor in determining search engine rankings is content quality. Search engines thrive in a competitive marketplace by successfully sending surfers to the pages that have the content they’re looking for.
So over the long term, the most effective Search Engine Optimization technique is to produce high-quality content. This is so important that we’ll be reminding readers of it constantly. Content Is King!
Before you can work on improving your rankings, however, you have to get indexed for the search terms – or keywords - you’re targeting.
You see, search engines do not scan the entire Internet every time a web surfer searches for particular words and phrases – that would take far too long to be feasible. Instead, search engines use sophisticated artificial intelligence programs called crawlers to constantly monitor the Internet, surf from link to link, and periodically “call home” to send information about the pages they find back to the search engine they work for.
What information do the crawlers send? They send keywords, a list of words and phrases that are repeated multiple times in a site’s code and content, or are located in certain important locations. Or both.
The information that results is folded into the search engine’s index, which is really just a massive directory of web pages, the keywords associated with each page, and how good the search engine thinks each page’s content is, relative to the other pages indexed for those search terms.
Which means: If your site isn’t indexed for certain keywords – “discount shoes, “ for instance – it won’t appear in the results page when a surfer searches for discount shoes.
It goes without saying that this is unfortunate outcome for shoe store owners.
So how do you get indexed? It’s really not difficult. The short answer is that you make sure the keywords you want a given page to get indexed for appear in certain important places on the page and in the HTML code.
These places are: The URL (or web address), the meta description, the title tag, in H1 headlines, the body of the web page’s text, in the filenames of images, and in an image’s alt attribute.
It sounds more complicated than it is, believe me. And in our next installment, we’ll define each of the phrases above, and discuss the benefits that each keyword location brings to your SEO efforts, and which have the most impact.
The last question – which has the most impact – is very important. Why? Because it is often difficult to include keywords in each of the above locations without diminishing the readability, or user-friendliness, of the webpage.
And since the single most important factor in search engine optimization is that good, user-friendly content is essential to SEO (Content Is King!), it makes sense to sacrifice some keyword positioning when creating good content requires it.
We’ll talk next time for about how to get your keywords where they need to be, and dispel some common myths about how keywords can impact your SEO – and how they can’t.
Online SEO Resources
Wikipedia’s SEO page: Useful as an introduction to basic concepts and terminology
SEOMoz: A massive collection of SEO information and tools. See especially their “Beginner’s Guide to SEO.”
The “Search Engine Guide” Blog: The self-styled “small business guide to search marketing” regularly offers up-to-date information on SEO tactics and strategies that beginners and resource-challenged companies can readily implement.
ProBlogger: Blogging can be a cost-effective way to build impressive SEO results quickly, and on a budget. The ProBlogger site is a leading source of advice on how to develop a lively and informative blog that keeps readers coming back.
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