DIY Website optimization

Search Engine Optimisation seems to be a term thrown around quite a bit these days. But what exactly is it, and how can you optimize your own website? Read on people, here are some of the points that you need to address on your site. In this post I have used one of my sites www.sa-nethost.com as an example, I hope to complete a extreme revamp on this site shortly.

DIY Website optimization

Meta Tags

For some people, this is the beginning and the end of SEO. As far as they are concerned, as long as they have a META keywords and description, they are set, and the page is ‘optimised’ – Wrong! Firstly, META tags are not as important as some people think, google for instance doesnt really do much with them other than acknowledge their existence. Engines like Yahoo on the other hand, as well as some META search engines will put much more importance on them.

Personally I still use them so that I cover all the bases, but there is a correct and an incorrect way to use them. Firstly, always have keywords and a description that is applicable to the content on that specific page. Each page on your site must have its own set of different keywords as well as description and dont forget the title tag either.

Now there is something that you have to remember, search engines are extrememly clever animals, and if you want to rank high, you need to make sure your site is relevant for the search term. Think about it, how long do you think people would use google if all the top results were websites that had nothing to do with the search term? Google and other search engine’s bread and butter, relies on being able to deliver relevant results to the customer. With this in mind, DONT think you can trick your way into the top ten. Rather do it right first time, and target a couple of specific phrases you would like to rank high for. Why only a couple, well, you want your page to have relevant content, if you target more phrases, its cant really be very relevant for all of them at the same time. Why phrases you ask, because then you are targetting a specific search term. Chances are, if someone is searching for exactly that specific term, you want them for a customer. Single keywords could help, but think how broad they are. Potentially you are now trying to fight for position with thousands more websites around the web. Essentially its like niche marketing for your business, you are targetting a niche group of web surfers out there, who want sites about that specific term. Thats targeted traffic, thats what you want coming to your site. The conversion from visitor to customer is way higher if the traffic is more targetted in the first place.

I have used my hosting website as an example below. I was targeting the keyphrases “linux website hosting” as the main key phrase I wanted to use to bring in traffic. This phrase has worked very well for me here on Google.co.za. Please note that I cant put the tag names in properly on this blog because I get errors, so I have substituted the < and > tags for { and }

{head}
{title}Linux website hosting – fast, reliable, affordable linux web hosting{/title}
{meta name=”keywords” content=”linux website hosting, linux web host, hosting, web hosting, website hosting, affordable, cheap, fast, reliable, web, host, website, website host, linux hosting, linux, reliable website host, free domain, business, email” /}
{meta name=”description” content=”Linux website hosting specialisits providing affordable, reliable, fast and feature rich linux website hosting. ” /}
{meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ /}
{META name=”verify-v1″ content=”03v8mbl1JZd7vD+fttVw5MrT3oj+UZqYZDYI/HlGZpU=” /}
{meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow, all” /}
{meta name=”language” content=”en” /}
{meta name=”rating” content=”GENERAL” /}
{meta name=”distribution” content=”GLOBAL” /}
{meta name=”revisit-after” content=”7 Days” /}
{meta name=”author” content=”Francois Harris – francois@sa-nethost.com”
{meta http-equiv=”reply-to” content=”info@sa-nethost.com” /}

The title tag of your website is extremely important and hold quite a bit of clout with the search engines, so dont waste this prime space for your domain name or business name, rather use it to target the keyphrase you want to be found for. In the title tag for your website, try to put your primary keyphrase in the beginning, followed by a few relevant words to make the whole thing make sense. Notice how I put the primary keyphrase in the beginning and the end of the title tag.

{title}Linux website hosting – fast, reliable, affordable linux web hosting{/title}

Take your primary and seconday key phrases, and use them first and second in your keywords meta tag, separated by a comma. Following them, a few extra relevant keywords to the site, and again your area or city name if you are targeting that traffic. Dont go mental on the keywords!!! There is a theory that the more keywords you have, then the less importance there is for all of them, as the relevance is spread between all of them, using less apparently gives the ones you do use more ‘power’, not sure on this but hey,its not gonna hurt. You also dont want the search engines to think you are spamming them with loads of keywords either. Keep it to about 15 or 20 keywords in total to be safe, and dont repeat keywords. One other thing, is that every one of the keywords I have used, IS actually in the text on that page, giving each one of the keywords more relevance.

{meta name=”keywords” content=”linux website hosting, linux web host, hosting, web hosting, website hosting, affordable, cheap, fast, reliable, web, host, website, website host, linux hosting, linux, reliable website host, free domain, business, email” /}

Try to put your primary and secondary key phrases right in the beginning of your description, while still making sure it makes sense to read. Try if possible to strategically place some of your other keywords into the description too, but dont make it too long either. Keep it short and sweet, while using your main key phrases, and you should be fine. In the example below, I again used my primary phrase twice, once in the beginning, and once in the end of the description.

{meta name=”description” content=”Linux website hosting specialisits providing affordable, reliable, fast and feature rich linux website hosting. ” /}

There are a couple of other meta tags that can be put into the code now, and they are as follows:

{meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ /} A good website editor like dreamweaver will do this one for you
{META name=”verify-v1″ content=”03v8mbl1JZd7vD+fttVw5MrT3oj+UZqYZDYI/HlGZpU=” /} – My google webmaster tools varification number
{meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow, all” /} – This tells the search engine spiders to follow all the links on the website
{meta name=”language” content=”en” /} – Its an english website
{meta name=”rating” content=”GENERAL” /} – with a general rating
{meta name=”distribution” content=”GLOBAL” /} – Has global distribution
{meta name=”revisit-after” content=”7 Days” /} – Please come back and check for changes every 7 days!
{meta name=”author” content=”Francois Harris – francois@sa-nethost.com” /} I am the author
{meta http-equiv=”reply-to” content=”info@sa-nethost.com” /}

Now for your website content! I assume you have a decent amount of information on your page, at least 300 words worth. Now is where you make use of some of the other html tags to target your primary keyphrase.

Lets start with the heading of the page. Use the {h1} tag to create your heading. This tag is the biggest size of the standard html header tags, and holds the most weight of all of them. Put your primary keyphrase into here, this should be easy and make sense as the page text and the primary keyphrase are relevant to each other.

Next start your website text, be sure to put your primary keyphrase somewhere in the first paragraph, make it bold too, to give it some more prominence. Carry on with the rest of your web page text, without going mad on your primary phrase. You dont want search engines to think you are ‘page stuffing’ the keyword.

If you have any images that you use in the page text, make sure to put the ALT tag onto the image, with the description of the image, which could include your primary keyphrase again. EG:

{img src=”images/pic01.gif” alt=”Small business Linux Website hosting” width=”600″ height=”93″ border=”0″ /}
Notice how I try to make all the places where the keyphase is placed, as natural looking as possible.

Finish off the page, by placing your primary phrase in the last paragraph, and this time make it italics to emphasise it.

Remember, if you get the traffic, your information on your page needs to be able to convert a visitor into a customer. So really think about what you are going to put onto your page. Do research, look what your competition is saying, but most of all make it relevant.

Your page has now gone through its first phase of optimization. Something to remember is that the more text you have on the page, the less relevance or prominence your primary keyphrase might have. So if you have loads of writing, strategically place your keyphrase into the text a few times where it can fit without sounding stupid. You can now upload your page, and wait for it to get indexed. I personally dont believe in submiting your site directly to Google, it should get found by itself fairly quickly, if you use any of the strategies listed below.

An important note: SEO is only one piece in the puzzle to getting ranked high and getting loads of traffic to your site. If you are targeting a niche keyphrase where there is not much competition, you could rank high very quickly. Most sitest though would have to move onto the next phase of marketing, while constantly monitoring the traffic statistics and SERPS for the specific page.

Other marketing strategies to use to while monitoring your page are:

Add your website to google analytics and webmaster tools
Submit a sitemap of your site to google
Submit your site to website directories, especially DMOZ
Social networking websites are great to promote your site
3 way link exchanges with sites of a similar target market or website genre. (three way links: Site A links to B which links to C which links to A) Much more powerful than a recipricol link exchange.
Newsletter publishing, a great way to promote your website.
Signatures in email and forum posts, a nice way to leave your mark wherever you give your input
Hardcopy marketing – business cards, posters, flyers, adverts etc with your web details. People still tend to keep business cards etc on desks, fridges, notice boards and more around the world

Make sure to do this for all your pages, as each page will have different information, and can target a different key phrase. If you have 10 pages, each optimized and targeting a specific phrase, you effectively have 10 great avenues to get to your site from search engines alone.