SEO HelpSearch engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the process in which you rearrange your site to get a higher ranking in the search engines, thus making it possible for more people to find your site. There are many things you can do to optimize your site for more exposure in the search engines. There are also many things you should not do because you and your site could be penalized.

Accurate and efficient SEO is critical to your site as most sites are found via search engines. Search engines have evolved and are now much more selective in what they look for in a site. Your SEO must adapt to this evolution to keep up your rankings.

While SEO methods can get complex and confusing, there are basic and clear things you can do to increase your chances of showing up in the search engines. By integrating the following optimizations into your site your rankings and your traffic should increase. Take note of the things you should not do as well.

1. Keywords – Many professionals will tell you that keywords are one of the most important factors in successful SEO. When choosing keywords you need to zero in on your business as much as possible. For example: if you sell jewelry, using the word jewelry will more than likely not be enough. You need to target your products in more detail. What kind of jewelry do you sell? What attracts people to your jewelry? What would you search for\when searching for jewelry? You can find out what keywords people use the most when searching for products by using Google’s keyword suggestion tool.

DO NOT be too repetitive in your use of keywords. This is called keyword stuffing and is very much frowned upon by the search engines. Use a Keyword Density Tool to make sure you have not overused your keywords.

2. Page Titles – Page titles are important for your SEO because they let the search engine spiders know what the page is about and in doing so make your webpage easier to index. When writing a spider-friendly title it all comes back to keywords. Choose some of your most effective keywords but be sure to make the title appealing to human eyes as well. Be sure your title makes sense and reads clearly. For example: jewelry diamonds, rubies, emeralds, rings, bracelets and more, is not a title but a string of keywords.

DO NOT make your title more than 70 characters because the excess will not show up in the search engines. You will then get one of these ……. which does nothing to get people to click on your page.

3. Quality Content – The search engine spiders are always looking for quality content on the websites they index. Don’t make your site a giant advertisement. Provide tips, information, resources and more pertaining to your business. If you own a home décor site, provide decorating tips, ways to save money with home decorating, etc.

DO NOT let your content go stale. You must add new information on a regular basis. This is critical to your SEO success.

4. Quality Links – Getting other quality, high-ranked sites to link to your site can be significant to your rankings. Always link to sites that will be helpful and beneficial to your visitors and to you. Find high ranked authority sites and contact the webmaster. Offer to place their link on your site if they do the same for you.

DO NOT link to junk or spam sites just to get more backlinks. A good thing to do is to ask yourself if you would find the site helpful. Would you visit this site or spend any time on it? Does it actually provide any useful information or content? If not, don’t chance damaging your reputation by linking to it.

5. Clean, Clear and Concise – Make sure your site is clean, easy to use and read. Have you ever been to a site that just takes you round and round and you never seem to find what you’re looking for? I call them merry-go-rounds and leave as quickly as possible. To me, they are about the worst kind of site. Be sure your site provides clear and concise navigation to all your products, content and other aspects of your site. Provide links to all your pages organized in a user-friendly way. Keep your site clean and clear of too many ads, clutter and junk.

DO NOT load your site with flash or frames. Both of these can cause problems for the search engines.

6. Image Alt Attribute – Search engine spiders cannot read images so be sure to use alt attribute to add keyword rich image descriptions.

DO NOT make your image description too long. A few words are usually sufficient but you could use a short sentence or two if appropriate.

7. Site Map – A site map will help make your site much easier to read for the search engine spiders and your human visitors. A site map is simply a page that lists and links to some or all of the pages of your website. Using an XML site map will make it much easier and effective for the search engines.

DO NOT put too many links on your site map. This could confuse the spiders and they might mistake you for a link farm. Stay within a 25 – 40 link range.

8. Social Networking – The astronomical rise of social media has had a huge impact on SEO. Be sure to get involved in social media and link to all your social sites via your website. Be sure they are all connected. My favorites are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Get on over to those sites and get connected!

DO NOT join too many social sites. Find a few that work well for you and focus on participation and building your brand.

9. Page Speed – The speed at which a webpage loads is not the most important factor in your site ranking but making the speed the most efficient it can be will be well worth the time. Many visitors will leave a webpage in about 10 seconds or less if it does not load. Clean up your pages as much as possible. Make excessively long pages into two or more shorter pages. Reduce the size of your images. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your page speed.

DO NOT load up your site with special effects, flashy lights and other unnecessary clutter. You want your site to look sharp and professional, not like the Vegas strip.

10. Broken Links – If you have excessive dead or broken links on your site the search engines will consider your site to be a poor quality site and it will affect your ranking. If you have a lot of external links on your site, be sure to check them regularly. Sites do die out and the links are no longer valid so you want to make sure you check them often.

DO NOT underestimate the impact of broken links. If you let them go unchecked and amass too many of them your site will suffer.

Don’t be intimidated by search engine optimization. There are many small things you can do that will make a big difference in your search engine ranking. Take some time to learn how to do these not so complicated steps and watch your site start rising to the top!

By Terri Seymour