Of all the online marketing topics that I have studied, the one I have put the most effort into mastering is search engine optimization (SEO). In layman’s terms, search engine optimization describes the manipulation of web pages including both onsite and offsite factors in order to achieve a high ranking in the major search engines, especially Google.
I often hear people say “yeah, I have keywords in my meta tags, is that what you are talking about.” What most people don’t realize is that Google and Yahoo stopped reading meta tags because of people taking advantage of search engine optimization tricks some time around 2006. According to many search engine experts, your website is more likely to get penalized for improper use of the keyword meta tag than actually benefit from the keywords found within this tag.
At this point your are probably asking yourself, if meta tags aren’t important any more, then what affects search engine ranking. The answer is a complex mix of onsite and offsite factors that work in harmony to create high search engine rankings.
Examples of Onsite Factors
- Domain Name – Likely the biggest factor, if your website name is your primary keyword, and you provide good content you will rank well
- Page URLs – Pages should be named with keywords and never include dynamic variables
- Page Titles – Should be short and descriptive
- Page Headers – Pages should have H1 and H2 or H3 tags with keywords that match the content
- Written Content – Google likes around 200 – 300 words with a keyword density of 3 – 7 %
- Internal Links – Links within your website should be descriptive and create a natural hierarchy of content
- Other – Alt tags, bold tags, meta descriptions, and uniqueness of content all affect rankings
Offsite and Other Factors
- Age of Website – Older sites do better
- Incoming Links – Not all links are equal but links help, and good links really help
Under-utilized Search Engine Optimization Tools
There are a few tools that are fairly new to the SEO world that I consistently find people failing to recognize. The first is feed syndication. There are literally hundreds of websites that accept RSS feeds for syndication. They are developed to drive traffic, both human and bot (search engine indexing spiders) to websites. The second is online video distribution. Online video marketing can be effective for a variety of reasons including branding, customer engagement, and direct sales, but it is also an extremely effective search engine optimization tool if the videos are optimized correctly.