Welcome to LOLSMG's Website Basics Series post 4. In this post we discuss SEO or search engine optimization.  SEO is what helps to get your website found by visitors and search engines. It's an important part of reaching new customers and expanding your influence.

What Is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of making a website more attractive to search engines so that the site will rank higher in search results and therefore drive more traffic to the site in question.  SEO covers many facets of websites from how a site is structured, to the content on the site (both images and text), to links on & off site.  As search engines are further refined to give users more compelling results so too does SEO change. It's not a static field and changes can occur very rapidly. However, the basics tend not to go out of style.

In order to give results search engines must first find a site.  It sends out spiders that take note of the words used on the page, as well where those words were found.  They give more importance to words found in headings, and with emphasis like bold or italic styles.  The spiders also take note of links found within the site.  Sitemaps provide a road-map to search engines allowing them to more quickly index a site.  All search engines are slightly different in the algorithms they use and how they index sites. This leads to differences in search engine rankings depending on search engine.

The following is a list of SEO practices that your site should have:

  • A site map, submitted to Google & Bing. This allows for faster indexing of your site by the search engine's bots. If you have a Wordpress site, there are many plugins that will do this for you.
  • Research and know your keywords. Keywords are words or phrases people will use to find your site. They should be relevant to your site and included naturally in the content of your site. If you are a webdesign company you should use phrases like "web design" throughout the copy of your site.
  • Hi-light keywords with bold or italic fonts and include them in your site headings.
  • Make your links part of your copy, don't use "here" or "this" as your anchor tags, be more descriptive about what you are linking to.
  • Content is King! Write relevant and original content. It will not only keep users engaged, but will improve your search engine rankings. Search engines do not like duplicate content.
  • Proof read! Spell check that content, especially make sure your keywords are spelled correctly.
  • Don't use images as headings - use CSS to make headings look good instead!
  • If you do use images, make sure they are large enough for social sharing sites like Pinterest, and that they have relevant file names and alt tags.
  • Use social media!  Not only are social media networks great to drive traffic to your site, they also provide link backs to your site. Search engines like it when well known, reputable sites link to your site, it's a signal that your site is a good site as well.
  • Ensure your site meta tags are filled out with appropriate keywords.

SEO is a valuable resource to drive traffic to your site. It can be overwhelming, but a little effort can bring valuable results. Not only will it increase traffic to your site, it will also increase your site's usability and accessibility.

If you are interested in learning more about SEO check out SEOMOZ's Beginner's Guide to SEO.  Stay tuned for the next post in the LOLSMG Website Basics Series, which will discuss CMS or Content Management Systems.