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Basic SEO Crash Course

If you run an online business in any capacity, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of search engine optimization or SEO. Once you understand how it all works, you will know what is required in the development phase of your website. This knowledge will help you not only to better optimize your pages for the engines, but will also help you to design and build a better website.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Today’s popular engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, work by finding, categorizing and then listing web pages based upon the keywords that are used on each page. If the text on your pages is relevant to whatever you are selling or promoting, your target keywords should naturally occur without having to add them artificially. Other elements, such as relevance and popularity, are also used to help determine the weight and rank of each page within Google’s index, however keywords are the most important element of SEO.

Building A Strong Foundation

The first thing you need to do is build a basic list of keywords that are relevant to the content on your page. Keywords can help you to build your company brand, promote the products or services you sell and get visitors to your pages. Create a list of at least 10-12 keywords to get you started. If you are having trouble with your keyword research, try looking at competitors’ websites, use a thesaurus or try an online tool.

Then expand on your basic list through the use of long-tail keywords. Long-tails are comprised of 3-4 keywords or more, and are based upon the words real people would use to find your website. One way to create long-tail keywords is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Just go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal and add a keyword, your website address and the category that describes your page. This tool will give you a list of results, as well as some details on monthly search numbers and competition.

Check Your List

Once you have a created a good list of keywords it is important to filter through the list to ensure that your choices are focused and relevant. Unfortunately, many website owners overlook this important phase of keyword research and end up wasting time and money using keywords that don’t work. Re-run your list through the keyword tool, removing options based upon competition rate and average monthly searches.

Some keywords will be used to purchase advertising in programs like AdWords or Facebook Ads. Others will be used on your website to help advance your search engine optimization. You can further refine your list by separating the words that you will use in each area. This can help you to more easily implement the words and phrases you have chosen as you continue to develop your marketing campaign.

Keywords Are Key!

Once you have a well-rounded and relevant list of keywords its time to put them to use. Keywords should be used in every aspect of your website. Unless your domain name is your company name, you should choose a domain based upon the most relevant keywords in your list. Keywords should be used in your meta tags, alt tags, headings, subheadings, product or service descriptions, about us and contact us pages, home page and of course any articles, blogs, tutorials or FAQ pages you offer to your visitors.

When adding articles or other informational text to your website, use your keyword list to help you think of relevant titles or subjects. They can also help you to create marketing campaigns, develop e-books or other helpful consumer downloads. Keywords keep you focused on the primary theme of your website, which in turn will help you to create a more useful and focused website for your visitors.

While keyword density is not a major focus of optimization for today’s developers, you should still take care not to “over-stuff” or add too many keywords on one page. Include keywords in the first sentence, first paragraph and last paragraph of your page, creating between 400-750 words per page. The quality of your writing should always be more important than the number of keywords you add to a page. In fact, writing that is of high quality should be naturally relevant and keyword rich without the need to add keywords as an afterthought.

If you would like a free consultation and evaluation of your current search engine marketing efforts, call New Bedford Internet at 508-415-8648.