I've been doing a lot of introduction SEO (define) training recently.
It's funny to say the same thing over and over, year after year. But with each class there seems to be a great amount of interest in this topic. I still find that most Web sites aren't implementing these basic techniques.
Let's start at the beginning. Whenever I do an introduction to SEO class, I always start by saying something like, "I teach many kinds of classes. Advanced classes, technical classes, pay-per-click classes, social media classes. But my favorite class to teach is introduction to SEO. This class is like exposing the wizard behind the curtain!"
I like teaching introduction to SEO because it's the greatest impact I can make on someone's online presence. If the people in my class understand the things I tell them and implement the concepts, they will be significantly ahead of the vast majority of sites in the search engines.
One aspect of these classes is discussing the three most important SEO factors (I'll only be talking about on-the-page factors here; linking, or off-the-page-criteria, is a whole other animal). If you do these three simple things I'm about to share, it's highly likely that you'll see a marked improvement in your search results.
Factor 1: Use Your Key Phrase in Your Title
This is, by far, the most important thing you can do for SEO.
Target one primary key phrase per page. Each page of your site should have a unique title.
For this example, let's pretend we're optimizing a site that sells craft supplies. The three primary key phrases we'll target are: "art craft supplies," "kid craft supplies," and "paper craft supplies."
Our imaginary site happens to have pages for each of these three topics. So, three possible titles for each of these pages could be:
Use each phrase exactly as it appears in the key phrase research. Don't make "supplies" singular. Don't leave out a word like "crafts." You will have a much higher likelihood of SEO success using the phrase exactly as it appeared in the research.
Factor 2: Use the Target Key Phrase in the Body Copy
As SEO evolved, optimizers found every conceivable way of stuffing key phrases in pages so that search spiders could see them but people couldn't. Eventually the search engines basically said that if visitors can't see the content, we're not interested in seeing (or ranking) the content.
Putting key phrases in image ALT tags or comment tags does little good. Never try to hide content as tiny text at the bottom of the page or by making it the same color as the background. These tricks are easily detectable and could cause you a lot of trouble.
Bonus tip: When I consult with a company on SEO, they consistently make one mistake. They don't stay focused.
They start strong in their title with their target key phrase. But then they don't stay as focused in the body content.
Use the exact key phrase you chose consistently through the copy of the page.
How often should you use the phrase? As often as makes sense for the reader. Don't go overboard, but definitely don't be shy either. Use the exact phrase, versus a synonym of the phrase, whenever you can.
Factor 3: Cross Link Your Pages Using the Target Key Phrases
In our example, we have three pages:
On our "Art Craft Supplies" page, we might link to our "Kid Craft Supplies" page, saying something like this: "We also have a big selection of art craft supplies for kids. Check out our kid craft supplies here." See how our target key phrase was used exactly here?
Cross linking your pages with the text of the hyperlink referencing the page will help significantly raise the importance of that page.
None of these tips are revolutionary, but they definitely make a big difference. You'll make huge strides in the search engine rankings in no time!
Need more help with these ideas? Leave a comment below.
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Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT