I have been asked several times by new site owners about optimizing their pages for search engines. Most of the time they are confused and hoping for a little help with clarifying the best practices. I’ve put together some helpful tips, specifically for newbies, to help clarify all the info you may have received and try to put it in order of importance.
One question is always about meta tags. There is still a lot of confusion about them and how they will benefit your website. My answer is usually, “forget about them.” On my list, they are one of the last worries you should be having as a newbie trying to get SE traffic. In most cases, you don’t need them, so don’t waste much time on them. It’s as simple as that.
If you are trying to get more search engine traffic, from my experience, the major factors of SEO in order of importance are:
- Content including all text, images and video, is most important. Write/produce great content, worthy of being shared and linked to. Formatting the content is important including usage of headings (h1 h2 etc. tags), bold text, italics, links etc. Make sure all links are working and relevant. Use descriptive titles and headings. High quality semantic code that ALL search engines can understand is important. Make sure it is excellent content, and you will get results.
- Incoming Links from other quality & related websites/pages (good descriptive link text/phrases) to multiple pages, not just your home page. It is very important your incoming links are to multiple pages, not just your home page. Make sure they are unpaid, don’t mess around with link buying and other scams that will just end up getting your site penalized by the search engines.
- Title tags (what you see at top of browser when viewing a page, within <title> tags. Use descriptive and appealing titles to insure you get the most people interested in visiting.
- Links with good phrases to other internal pages within your site, and links to other external quality & related websites / pages also. This is number four on the list, but could easily move up to third depending on the type of website. Once again, this deals with your on page content and site architecture. Make browsing your site easy, and link to other reputable websites users will find useful, and you will create a better user experience. You will gain trust with your readers and the search engines will award you as well.
- Social Media helps. Use it. It sends good signals to search engines that your content doesn’t just live in a box. Get an active following and spread the word about your awesome content.
- Meta Description tags that are relatively short and precise, must match on page content. Not all search engines even look at this, so don’t spend too much time worrying about the perfect descriptions.
- ALT Attributes for image tags. You’d be surprised at how much traffic you can get by simply adding short, descriptive, 3-5 word ALT phrases for all your images.
There are many things NOT to do also, mainly dealing with trying to trick search engines (including adding false, and too many meta keywords). It is better to not add any meta keywords at all. If for some reason you must add them, make sure the on page content matches the keywords, and do not use duplicate keywords on different pages, or your page could be penalized.
If you have limited time for your project, I would recommend working on new content first of all, optimized with the seven most important factors above. Secondly, find lots of incoming text links from quality/related sites. You will not only get new referral traffic, but you will boost your chances of getting a lot of new traffic from search engines.
Do all of these things I’ve listed and I bet you’ll be surprised at the quality new traffic you’ll get. Of course, some of the best traffic is by word of mouth and recommendations from actual people. But, that’s a whole other subject.