Basic SEO Tips Part 2

This is Part 2 of our basic SEO lesson. Click here for Part 1.

In our last lesson, we talked about the basics of setting up your page, as well as getting backlinks to your pages. Now we need to discuss something VERY important – OVER-optimization. Yes, you can optimize your sites TOO well!

If you follow every single SEO tip you find, you may just find your site penalized for being too well optimized. Apparently a lot of search engines have caught on that people who have “near-perfect” SEO are often spammers who flood the search engines with useless garbage. Most “real webmasters” don’t use a lot of SEO techniques. In fact, the pages the search engines want in their index often don’t use much SEO at all aside from accidental techniques!

Let’s take the example of “fried chicken recipe”. What would you rather find if you were searching for a fried chicken recipe – a page with an article that talked about how to find a fried chicken recipe and repeated the keyword in ten different locations but had no actual recipe, or a page written by someone’s grandma (who knows nothing about SEO) with an actual fried chicken recipe? It’s very unlikely anyone would actually choose the page with no actual recipe, and neither would the search engines!

So most “legitimate” pages on the internet, the quality pages, use very little SEO. That also means a lot of quality pages will never be ranked high in the search engines unless they get a tremendous amount of high-quality backlinks.

So some search engines seem to now be penalizing sites that have too much SEO, so to speak. They are looking at pages that use too many specific SEO elements, and they’re getting suspicious. So these pages may be sandboxed or even deindexed!

So my advice to you is to not worry too much about SEO. Have your keyword phrase in your title, once or twice in your text, in your URL, and in anchor text, but don’t overdo it! Write for the people who visit your site, your readers. Don’t write for search engines! If you worry too much about keyword density, you risk over-optimizing your site AND you risk writing articles that no one wants to read.

Some ways to avoid over-optimization:

  • Don’t worry about keyword density.
  • Don’t repeat keywords in the title.
  • Don’t use too many H1 tags.
  • Vary the anchor text that links to you. (See below)
It’s important to vary the text that sites use to link to you. If you’re optimizing a site for “fried chicken recipe”, don’t use that exact text to link to your site over and over! Search engines are onto this. Make about 75% of your links use this text, and the other 25% should be divided between around 5 other phrases that are similar. You might use phrases like “mom’s fried chicken”, “my mother’s fried chicken recipe”, and “southern fried chicken recipe”, for example.
This concludes our two part basic SEO lesson. The best thing you can learn from this is to optimize carefully, but worry more about writing content people want to read rather than writing for the search engines!

Basic SEO Tips Part 1

One of the most important parts of online marketing of any kind is search engine optimization, or SEO.  SEO is critical, because most people find a website though a search engine.  If your website doesn’t show up in the search engines for your most imporant keyword phrases, you’re not going to get anywhere near as much traffic as you should.  You should also know that SEO is a method of getting FREE traffic.  Many other methods require you to pay for the traffic, but SEO (if you do it yourself) can cost absolutely nothing.  You can enhance SEO with paid methods, but general SEO doesn’t cost money if you do it yourself.

The first concept in SEO is “keywords”.  Keywords are the words surfers will use to search for something online.  Let’s say someone wants a recipe for fried chicken.  They would probably go to a search engine like Google and search for something like:

  • fried chicken recipe
  • southern fried chicken recipe
  • recipe for fried chicken
  • recipe for cajun fried chicken

If you sell a recipe book of various fried chicken recipes, or you run a blog about chicken recipes, you’d probably love to have your site come up for these phrases, right?  These are keyword phrases.

You need to find out approximately how many times a particular keyword (or keyword phrase) gets searched for each day or month, and you also need to know how many pages are competing for the same keyword or phrase.  The more searches you have and the fewer competing sites, the better chance you have to rank on the first page for that keyword.

You can find keywords and approximate search numbers at places like:

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/index.php

If you want fried chicken recipe related keyword phrases, you would enter “fried chicken recipes” without quotes into one of these search tools and you’ll find related phrases and approximate search numbers.  Remember, numbers are approximate and are often inaccurate.

Next you need to know how much competition there is.  Simply go to Google and enter your keyword phrase IN quotes, like this: “fried chicken recipe”.  At this time that phrase has 122,000 pages competing for that exact phrase.  There are probably MANY more pages that have fried, chicken, and recipe on them, but only 122,000 pages are currently using that exact phrase, and those are the people you’re really competing with.

Once you’ve chosen some keyword phrases, you want to make a page for each one.  Each page should have, at minimum, the following features:

  • The keyword used in the TITLE tag.
  • The keyword used at least once or twice on the page.
  • The keyword in the URL (domain name or file name, like fried-chicken-recipe.html).
  • The keyword used in H1 tags once.

This is very basic on page SEO.  This is the SEO that is acutally used on your site.  We’ll also look briefly at off page SEO techniques.

Off page SEO is about linking to your site.  You need to find various sites to link to your pages, especially sites that already rank well in the search engines for phrases related to yours and that have a high Google PageRank.  Those sites should link to yours using your keyword phrases as anchor text.  (Anchor text is the text used to link to you, like this:

Fried Chicken Recipe

Of course, this should link to your fried chicken recipe page, not to Google! :)

There are many ways to find backlinks to your site:

  • Ask other bloggers or webmasters with sites similar to yours to exchange links to you.
  • Post articles to article directories using your link in your bio box.
  • Offer to write articles for webmasters in exchange for a link.
  • Add your site to search directories.
  • Submit comments on related blogs.
  • Buy links (just be aware this can get you penalized depending on where you buy them!)
  • Submit a press release with a link to your site.
  • Add your site to social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon.

We’ll dig a little deeper into SEO in Part 2 of our Basic SEO lesson!  Click here for Part 2!