Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies Made Simple

Dec 15


Justin Michie

Justin Michie

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Search Engines are the foundation of the internet information highway, and most website owners are at least somewhat interested to know how they can get their site to appear in search engine listings without too much technical complication. This article contains some simple tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which can get you started in the right direction, including tips on using keywords, organizing page content, building backlinks and using Meta Tags among other things.

Almost everyone I know with a website wants their site to rank well in at least the five major search engines (Google,Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies Made Simple Articles Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask) for their particular topic or keywords. Generally, to be successful, this means showing up in the top ten results and as close to number one as possible. While no search engine strategy will immediately propel your site to the top of the rankings there are some seemingly simple things you can to give your site a much better chance. It’s important to note that each search engine uses its own ultra secretive algorithm to rank sites, so search engine ranking strategies in general terms here that are likely to help improve your ranking collectively.


One of the most important components to almost every search engine is the content of your site; in particular the keywords contained within the content of your site. All major search engines place a large weight on the keywords contained within your site and where they fins them. Some of the best places to use keywords are in your domain name, HTML page title, H1, H2, and H3 header tags, the actual content of the webpages, links, meta tags and ALT tags.

The keyword frequency of your pages is another consideration of most search engines. It measures of the number of times keywords occur within a page's text. It's tied to the concept of keyword density. Search engines want to see more than one repetition of a keyword in your text to make sure it's not an isolated case. Ideally you want to choose 2-3 keywords per webpage and repeat them 5-7 times throughout the page.

Your webpage keyword density is something else that you’ll want to configure. Keyword density measures the relationship of your keywords as compared to other text on the webpage. The higher the percentage of keywords in relationship to other text, the higher the keyword density is. The recommended keyword density for any webpage is 3-7%, per keyword or keyword phrase. This means you should repeat all your keywords three-to-seven times for every 100 words of content on your webpage.

Keyword prominence is yet another part of many search engine’s ranking algorithms. Besides all of the other keyword real estate locations mentioned above, the best place to place keywords in the text of your webpage is right at the top of the main page. Most web crawlers assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention these words right at the beginning. If your navigation system currently uses text links and is at the top of your page, make it graphical so the first text the search engine sees can be relevant.

Some search engines, such as Google, also use the concept of keyword proximity as part of their ranking formulas. As suggested by the name, "keyword proximity" means the how close keywords are to each other. By putting your keywords as close together as possible and making sure your sentences are clear, concise, and make perfect sense you’re likely to rank better. For example the sentence “Internet marketing made simple.” would rank better than “Marketing on the internet made simple.” for the keywords “internet marketing.”  Domain names are another great place for keywords. If relevant keywords are contained in the domain name, it carries more weight with almost all search engines, than keywords found in the text of the webpage. Shorter or top-level domain names with keywords generally carry more weight than really long domain names. For instance, if all other factors are the same, the domain name would rank higher than, for the keywords “internet marketing.” More recently, search engines have begun to prioritize the use of keywords in a site's domain name, in their ranking formulas. Google and Yahoo! are two of the search engines that do this.   Also avoid search engine spamming. That is, don't be tempted to use tiny or invisible text to put keywords at the beginning of your pages. Search engines define this behavior as spam and can reject your site for it. Also sites that list keywords and/or repeat them over and over can also be rejected for keyword spamming.

Meta Tags 

The meta description and keyword tags are another great place to use keywords. They describe your site's content, giving search engines' spiders an accurate summary filled with multiple keywords. Meta tags are hidden in a document's source code; the search engines can see them, but they visitors can’t (unless of course they view your source code). Some search engines, however, use it as a site's summary on their results pages. If they do, the reader may actually see this hidden tag, so make sure its contents are somewhat enticing to the reader.   Meta tags are incredibly important to some search engines and others couldn’t care less about them. There are a handful of search engines that use only meta tags to rank webpages, although the weight of meta tags in general is dropping across the board. Search engines don’t penalize sites that use meta tags properly, so it's recommended that you always include them.

The meta description tag should contain multiple keywords organized in a logical sentence. Place the keywords at the beginning of your description and close to each other to achieve the best possible rankings. Search engines vary in their preferred size for meta tags. Anywhere between 150-250 characters is the standard accepted size.

ALT Tags  

Search engines don’t see images and they won’t index any text that is presented or embedded in an image format. To help fix this problem, there are ALT tags. An ALT tag provides an alternative text when non-textual page elements (images or graphics) cannot be displayed. If someone is using a text-only web browser (handheld device such as a cell phone), or on a slow dialup connection has their images turned off, or if an image is no longer available, an ALT tag would take the images place on the user’s screen. Also, if you hold your mouse over an image with an ALT tag, the tag will be displayed in a little box in the surfer’s browser. Search engines also don't penalize for using ALT tags or even for packing them with keywords, so there’s no reason not to use them. 

Link Popularity  

Link popularity can do a lot for your site. Not only will many search engines rank you higher, but links from other sites will also drive more traffic to you. A growing number of search engines are beginning to use link popularity in their ranking algorithms. Google uses it as its most important PageRank factor in ranking sites. HotBot, AltaVista, MSN and others also use link popularity in their formulas. Eventually every major engine will probably use link popularity, so developing and maintaining backlinks are essential to your search engine placement.

Search engines use sophisticated formulas to gauge how popular sites are based on more than just a measure of how many links point to your site. In general, however, link popularity is measured by the following three factors:

Relevance – Search engines prioritize incoming links from pages that are relevant to the page in question. If you sell gardening tools, a link from a gardening tool manufacturer boosts your rankings more than one from a antiques discussion forum.

Number of links – The more, the better. Though lots of irrelevant links are less effective than a few relevant ones, they're better than nothing as they may still generate a little traffic to your site.

Link text – The text used to describe a link can also affect your rankings. These three links all point to the same URL but use different text: – is somewhat relevant     

Internet Marketing Book – is most relevant     

Click here – is not at all relevant  

Page importance – The more important the page linking to your site is, the more it can do to positively boost your ranking. For example, a link from CNN is much more important than a link from Aunt Edie’s rock collection site.

Most search engines spiders figure that any words other sites use to describe your site are particularly relevant. So, if a lot of sites linking to you use keywords in their link text, search engines will boost your ranking for those keywords.

Click Popularity  

Click popularity is the measure of the number of clicks received by each site in a search engine's results page. For example, let’s say that 100 users search for “tropical fish.” If after scanning the first 10 results, 97 users click on “Tropical Fish Feeding and Care a click tracking technology assumes that the site “Tropical Fish Feeding and Care” is more relevant than the others. Next time someone searches for “tropical fish” “Tropical Fish Feeding and Care” will appear higher in the results.   The real only way to boost your click popularity is to see what text the various search engines use in your listing and then make it better. Most search engines use one of, or a combination of following: your page title, the first few lines of text on your webpage, part of your meta description, description or keywords you entered when submitting your site to the search engine.   


Stickiness is a measure of the amount of time a user spends at a website. It's calculated according to the time that elapses between each of the user's clicks on the search engine's results page, or how long it is until the user clicks the back button in their browser.   An example could be when you perform a search for “chicken recipe.” You get the standard results page with 10 results listed in order of relevancy, click on one of the links and surf the website for 2 minutes. It turns that it doesn’t quite have what you’re looking for, so you try another site that turns out to be junk and spend less than 5 seconds on it before you try another. Click tracking technologies record the time between your clicks and use that time to determine each site's relevance. The longer your visit the website, the stickier the site is (in theory) and the better it will do in the results ranking next time. It is important to note that stickiness is not used by many search engines, as it is hard to track and the results can be easily skewed.

Both click popularity and stickiness allow the search engine users to rank sites rather than web crawling software or site reviewers.

Search Engines and Themes  A theme is defined by search engines as a common topic throughout an entire site. Another way to think about it is that some of your most important keywords are used consistently throughout your site. In an effort to provide their users with more relevant information, search engines developed sophisticated technology that "extracts" website's themes. This technology allows results to be more focused on relevant sites for the topic searched for, instead of individual webpages.   Theme technology is used by some of the major search engine’s formulas or algorithms to index and rank sites. They are used by AltaVista, Lycos and Google. Also, when a Yahoo! reviewer is reviewing sites, sites that have a common theme will receive a higher ranking than one that is all over the place.

Site Design  

Your site's design plays a major in role in your visitor’s decision to either stick around and look at your content or continue surfing to another site. Graphics, layout, load time, fonts and ease of navigation can all influence the user. To craft a site that retains visitors, make it fast, clean and pleasant. The basic principal is do everything you can to keep them on your site for as long as possible. Not only can that help improve your search engine ranking, but it will help your sales as well.

Aside from attracting and retaining visitors, your site's design is critical for search engine positioning. Directories, such as Yahoo!, manually review your site before accepting it. Directory editors look for sites with good design to add to their indexes. Any editor from a directory will tell you that a site using "This page is under construction," message won't be listed. Visitors don't enjoy "construction" areas either. Don't submit to directories, or even search engines for that matter, until you have your whole site up.

Capitalizing on Alphabetical Priority  

Some smaller search engines use alphabetical hierarchy in their ranking formulas. But more importantly, directories such as Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project list sites in alphabetical order in their directory or categorical listings. Alphabetical priority is a way of ordering files based on the alphabetical hierarchy of the characters in their names. It is generally accepted that numbers come before letters, and symbols (@, #, & etc.) come before numbers. But don’t try to mislead them by adding “AAA” or some kind of symbol in front of your name. Directories are reviewed by human editors who can confirm your actual business name.