THE COMPLETE SEO GUIDE part 1
 
 
Incorporating quality SEO has become increasingly important for web designers in recent years, as people have recognized the large amounts of traffic generated by websites that capture the attention of large online search engines. While excitement among web designers is on the rise, effective SEO techniques elude many and the results are ineffective sites that rank low in search engine results. The time it takes to learn basic and successful SEO techniques will pay off in the end, in the form of higher search engine rankings and increased website traffic.

In order to harness properly the power of effective SEO techniques, web designers must first take the time necessary to understand what search engine optimization is, as well as the principles on which it is founded. Extensive SEO knowledge can be discovered online and this article will therefore serve as a skeleton that web designers can flesh out with further online research of their own.

What is SEO?


Search Engine Optimization is the process by which web designers make their websites relevant to large search engines. When a web browser enters key words into a search engine’s query field, that search engine immediately checks its index to search out the most relevant results for the query. A search engine’s index is stocked with information that has been deposited by “web crawlers” that have searched thousands of websites in order to find the ones that contain the best information and links within common key word searches. From the index, search engines pull out the links that seem most relevant to the query and list them in descending order according to their significance.

Web designers that understand the criteria by which search engines find and list their responses to browser queries use this knowledge to their advantage by including the content and links in their sites that web crawlers will consider vital and relevant. This process of centering a website’s content on search engine crawlers is called Search Engine Optimization.

Why Does SEO Matter?


As mentioned before, web crawlers scan an enormous amount of online content everyday in order to find the web pages that are most relevant to any given topic. Large search engines use a complicated algorithm to find and index the information found by web crawlers and understanding the inner workings of those algorithms is key to ranking high in search engine listings. The main components of the algorithm used by large search engines (such as Google) are tri-fold.

  1. Relevant On-Site SEO

    There are a number of ways that you can optimize the content of your website to be search engine friendly. On-site SEO is the best place for web designers to begin their quest for high search engine rankings, as on-site content can be exclusively controlled, without any outside factors or variables influencing its effectiveness.

    • Key Words

      When a web crawler comes to visit your website, it is looking for key words that are relevant to common search engine queries within any given niche. In order to optimize search engine rankings, those key words should be present on your website in a density of about 2-3%. If you cram your website with too many of the same SEO key words, the web crawler will consider your website to be SPAM and will not place your website in the search engine’s index. However, if your website has too few key words, the same result is inevitable and your website will never get anywhere near the top of search engine listings.

      For example, if your website is dedicated to Indie music reviews, you will want to first figure out what the most common key words people within the Indie music niche enter into their search engine query fields. Some of those key words may include “Indie music reviews” “best Indie music” “find Indie music”, etc.

      Once you know the key words to use, you will want to sprinkle your website with those words in a 2-3% density. This means that for every hundred words, you should include two to three relevant key words in your text.

    • HTML markups

      Whenever you include text on one of your web pages, you have the option of including HTML tags that will “name” your content, or will help to break your content up into named chapters that are easier for web crawlers to assimilate in an SEO friendly manner. The most typical tags used in HTML markup are H1, H2 and H3. Each one of these HTML tags represents a descending level of relevancy to search engine crawlers, beginning with H1. While HTML tags go on down through H6, the top three tags are all a web designer will generally need to work with.

    • Internal Linking

      Internal linking can be the difference between having your website listed on either the first or the second page or search engine results. Making sure that all of the pages on your website are properly linked ensured that web crawlers can find all of the pages on your site in order to determine your site’s relevance. In addition, it can heighten the ranking of each of your internal pages, whereas websites that do not focus on internal linking are usually rated solely on the content of their homepage.
      By placing links to all of the pages on your website on each page, you are ensuring that the entirety of your website content is recognized and accounted for by search engine crawlers.

    • Site Structure

      The last thing you want when a web crawler comes to visit is a messy website that is full of extraneous code and confusing data. Top SEO experts say that one of the best ways to clean up the code on your website is to use Style Sheets. In addition, there are certain tricks that you can use to set up your site structure so that web crawlers bypass all of the images and coding on your website in order to be led directly to your SEO friendly content.


  2. Relevant Off-Site SEO

    While off-site SEO content is highly influenced by many variables that cannot be controlled by web designers, the potential increase in rankings that can be generated through its use cannot be ignored. In order to optimize fully the relevance of any given website, the generation of quality off-site content and links is imperative.

    • Articles

      One of the largest sources of advertising for your website comes in the form of articles written for other websites. Many online sites exist to answer questions and to share information on various subjects of interest. Utilizing these sites in order to write about your niche market will not only spark interest in potential viewers but in addition, most of your articles will also link those viewers directly to your own website for further information. The potential traffic that can be generated by sprinkling articles throughout the web is literally limitless.

    • Links

      Arguably one of the most essential criterion for web crawlers, the number of relevant and popular links that point back to your website can make or break your search engine rankings. There are several ways to generate these all-important links.

      •  Directory Listings – Getting listed in major directories such as Yahoo and DMOZ can give a website instant credibility with major search engines. Smaller directories also exist that can dramatically improve you link rating with large search engines. While many directory listings are free of charge, others attach a fee for their listing service.

      •  Reciprocal Links – These are agreements between websites that agree to link to one another simultaneously. It is unwise for websites to create reciprocal links with any website that will agree to the practice. Linking to sites with less than 50 links is a shrewd practice, as it will increase the importance of the link in the eyes of search engine crawlers.

      •  Non-Reciprocal Links – We have already discussed writing articles for publication on various websites. What we have not mentioned is that each of these articles typically provides on highly relevant non-reciprocal link to your webpage. Another means of generating non-reciprocal links is to generate a press release about your company, which is a cost effective means of generating another important link to your site. A third way of generating non-reciprocal links is through paying for them. Web designers should investigate the source of all paid links before purchasing, to ensure that they are relevant and able to list your site in a prominent position that is not buried by other such paid links.


  3. Consistent Site Maintenance

    Keeping a tidy website is imperative to securing high search engine rankings and far too many web designers overlook this important aspect of optimization in order to focus on the more “cutting edge” aspects of SEO. This is a big mistake. Web crawlers can be an unforgiving bunch, and keeping up on website maintenance is essential to both acquiring and maintaining a high search engine ranking.

    • Fix Broken Links

      If a web crawler cannot find your web pages where it should, you will suffer the consequences of not being indexed by the search engine’s that matter most. If you have deleted a web page that is linked to other pages, it is imperative that you insert the robot.txt in order to keep crawlers from indexing the broken links, which can be detrimental to the success of your website.

    • Keep your URL Straight

      While it may seem a simple maintenance matter, web designers should realize that web crawlers consider sites www and non-www URLs to be two completely different beasts. This means that on every link, on every advertisement and in every article, you must either add the www or leave it off completely. This will unify the strength of any website’s online web presence and keep web crawlers from getting confused as to the correct location of your website.

    • Put Down Roots

      Many web designers would rather create an entirely new website in lieu of cleaning up old coding messes. This is a mistake. Search engines give more credence to websites that have been in existence for a long time and having a website with long-standing roots can sometimes give an edge in search engine rankings.

 

What Criteria Do Web Crawlers Use?


As mentioned before, web crawlers scan an enormous amount of online content everyday in order to find the web pages that are most relevant to any given topic. Large search engines use a complicated algorithm to find and index the information found by web crawlers and understanding the inner workings of those algorithms is key to ranking high in search engine listings. The main components of the algorithm used by large search engines (such as Google) are tri-fold.

  1. Relevant On-Site SEO

    There are a number of ways that you can optimize the content of your website to be search engine friendly. On-site SEO is the best place for web designers to begin their quest for high search engine rankings, as on-site content can be exclusively controlled, without any outside factors or variables influencing its effectiveness.

    • Key Words

      When a web crawler comes to visit your website, it is looking for key words that are relevant to common search engine queries within any given niche. In order to optimize search engine rankings, those key words should be present on your website in a density of about 2-3%. If you cram your website with too many of the same SEO key words, the web crawler will consider your website to be SPAM and will not place your website in the search engine’s index. However, if your website has too few key words, the same result is inevitable and your website will never get anywhere near the top of search engine listings.

      For example, if your website is dedicated to Indie music reviews, you will want to first figure out what the most common key words people within the Indie music niche enter into their search engine query fields. Some of those key words may include “Indie music reviews” “best Indie music” “find Indie music”, etc.

      Once you know the key words to use, you will want to sprinkle your website with those words in a 2-3% density. This means that for every hundred words, you should include two to three relevant key words in your text.

    • HTML markups

      Whenever you include text on one of your web pages, you have the option of including HTML tags that will “name” your content, or will help to break your content up into named chapters that are easier for web crawlers to assimilate in an SEO friendly manner. The most typical tags used in HTML markup are H1, H2 and H3. Each one of these HTML tags represents a descending level of relevancy to search engine crawlers, beginning with H1. While HTML tags go on down through H6, the top three tags are all a web designer will generally need to work with.

    • Internal Linking

      Internal linking can be the difference between having your website listed on either the first or the second page or search engine results. Making sure that all of the pages on your website are properly linked ensured that web crawlers can find all of the pages on your site in order to determine your site’s relevance. In addition, it can heighten the ranking of each of your internal pages, whereas websites that do not focus on internal linking are usually rated solely on the content of their homepage.
      By placing links to all of the pages on your website on each page, you are ensuring that the entirety of your website content is recognized and accounted for by search engine crawlers.

    • Site Structure

      The last thing you want when a web crawler comes to visit is a messy website that is full of extraneous code and confusing data. Top SEO experts say that one of the best ways to clean up the code on your website is to use Style Sheets. In addition, there are certain tricks that you can use to set up your site structure so that web crawlers bypass all of the images and coding on your website in order to be led directly to your SEO friendly content.

  2. Relevant Off-Site SEO

    While off-site SEO content is highly influenced by many variables that cannot be controlled by web designers, the potential increase in rankings that can be generated through its use cannot be ignored. In order to optimize fully the relevance of any given website, the generation of quality off-site content and links is imperative.

    •  Articles

      One of the largest sources of advertising for your website comes in the form of articles written for other websites. Many online sites exist to answer questions and to share information on various subjects of interest. Utilizing these sites in order to write about your niche market will not only spark interest in potential viewers but in addition, most of your articles will also link those viewers directly to your own website for further information. The potential traffic that can be generated by sprinkling articles throughout the web is literally limitless.

    • Links

      Arguably one of the most essential criterion for web crawlers, the number of relevant and popular links that point back to your website can make or break your search engine rankings. There are several ways to generate these all-important links.

      • Directory Listings – Getting listed in major directories such as Yahoo and DMOZ can give a website instant credibility with major search engines. Smaller directories also exist that can dramatically improve you link rating with large search engines. While many directory listings are free of charge, others attach a fee for their listing service.

      • Reciprocal Links – These are agreements between websites that agree to link to one another simultaneously. It is unwise for websites to create reciprocal links with any website that will agree to the practice. Linking to sites with less than 50 links is a shrewd practice, as it will increase the importance of the link in the eyes of search engine crawlers.

      • Non-Reciprocal Links – We have already discussed writing articles for publication on various websites. What we have not mentioned is that each of these articles typically provides on highly relevant non-reciprocal link to your webpage. Another means of generating non-reciprocal links is to generate a press release about your company, which is a cost effective means of generating another important link to your site. A third way of generating non-reciprocal links is through paying for them. Web designers should investigate the source of all paid links before purchasing, to ensure that they are relevant and able to list your site in a prominent position that is not buried by other such paid links.

  3. Consistent Site Maintenance

    Keeping a tidy website is imperative to securing high search engine rankings and far too many web designers overlook this important aspect of optimization in order to focus on the more “cutting edge” aspects of SEO. This is a big mistake. Web crawlers can be an unforgiving bunch, and keeping up on website maintenance is essential to both acquiring and maintaining a high search engine ranking.

    • Fix Broken Links

      If a web crawler cannot find your web pages where it should, you will suffer the consequences of not being indexed by the search engine’s that matter most. If you have deleted a web page that is linked to other pages, it is imperative that you insert the robot.txt in order to keep crawlers from indexing the broken links, which can be detrimental to the success of your website.

    • Keep your URL Straight

      While it may seem a simple maintenance matter, web designers should realize that web crawlers consider sites www and non-www URLs to be two completely different beasts. This means that on every link, on every advertisement and in every article, you must either add the www or leave it off completely. This will unify the strength of any website’s online web presence and keep web crawlers from getting confused as to the correct location of your website.

    • Put Down Roots

      Many web designers would rather create an entirely new website in lieu of cleaning up old coding messes. This is a mistake. Search engines give more credence to websites that have been in existence for a long time and having a website with long-standing roots can sometimes give an edge in search engine rankings.

What are Some Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid?


In their rush to optimize their search engine rankings, many web designers commit grave errors that can land their websites in the dog house with major search engine crawlers. Becoming educated on these errors is of the utmost importance to designers that are attempting to increase their search engine rankings and drive new traffic to their websites. A few common SEO mistakes can be easily avoided by properly educated web designers.

  1.  Over-Indulging in Graphics

    While websites with flashy Java content look great to the viewer, they can sometimes have a detrimental effect on search engine rankings. The reason for this is that web crawlers deal primarily in content, and the complex lines of code that they have to wade through in order to get to that content will directly effect whether or not your website will be indexed with search engines as a high ranking contender within your niche. Each page of your website should have between 200-300 words on it, with key words sprinkled naturally throughout at an average density of 2-3%. Web designers that are interested in SEO should not sacrifice this text content in lieu of graphics, no matter how strong the temptation is to do so.

  2.  Improper Navigation Text

    Many web designers have an understanding of the important role that links play in SEO. However, many of these same designers do not understand that each link can double as keyword-rich content. For instance, if a web designer is creating a link to a website that specializes in promotional items, instead of including the navigation text, “Click Here” they should instead create navigation text that says “Promotional Items, Click Here”.

    While a simple “Click Here” will send viewers to the right page, web crawlers will connect the relevance of the site to the key words “Click” and “Here”. This does absolutely nothing to increase search engine rankings and is in essence a waste of a perfectly good link.

  3. Junk Links

    While creating incoming links to your site is important to the ranking of any given website, having bad links is even worse than having no links at all. If a web designer simply links a website to irrelevant content that is devoid of the proper niche keywords, web crawlers are likely to consider the website a SPAMMER and will refuse to list the website anywhere in their search engine results. It is imperative that web designers link to their website exclusively using off-site links that are both relevant and in good standing with major search engines.

  4. Overly-Conventional Content

    In order to rank high in relevant search engine listings, web designers need to focus on making their content as original as possible. Each website is competing with thousands of others for the attention of search engines and repeat or overly-conventional content will do little or nothing in the way of increasing search engine rankings. This is true especially where key words are concerned. If there are hundreds of websites within any given niche, using overly-common keywords is a trap that cost web designers the search engine ranking they desire. Larger, more established websites are sure to have generated a plethora of content using those same key words and they are likely to dwarf websites that use the same key words in their content.

    It is essential for web designers to be as creative and original as possible when it comes to the key words they choose to incorporate into their websites. It is wise to search out slang terms used by niche markets in order to target key word searches that larger websites have overlooked. In addition, it is wise to change the tenses of each key word (i.e.: plural and singular forms) in order to cast a broader net to draw in the target audience within any given niche market.

What Other Time-Honored SEO Advice Can Be Shared?


This article has outlined the basics of Search Engine Optimization for web designers and other individuals that are interested in improving their search engine rankings. It has also highlighted some of the most common errors committed by over-eager web designers that do not take time out to become properly educated on SEO etiquette and protocols.

Therefore, all that remains to be covered in this article is a little time-honored advice that can keep web designers on the right track in their efforts to earn a high search engine ranking for their respective websites.

  1. Patience is a Virtue

    Even when a web designer has painstakingly covered all of the SEO bases and optimized the heart out of his or her website, they may not initially see the dramatic improvement in search engine rankings that they were expecting. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that it takes time for web crawlers to notice and index the improvements made to existing websites and the flawless content of brand new sites. In addition, the age of any given website and the number of organic linkbacks matters a great deal to search engines and these factors are largely out of the control of web designers. As people catch on to the greatness of a new or a revitalized site, they will tag the site on their social networking sites and provide the organic links you need. As for historical importance, all a web designer can do in that department is hold steady and have patience. Good things, after all, do come to those who wait.

  2. Do Not Be Afraid to Take Risks

    Many web designers can feel paralyzed by the sheer volume of factors to consider when it comes time to make their websites SEO friendly. Risks have always been and will always be a vital part of success and this principle rings true when it comes to search engine optimization. It is better to step out and try to get a website noticed by major search engines than it is to do nothing at all. To this end, employing the basic SEO techniques outlines in this article is a good place to begin. Even if three out of five techniques fall flat, that still leaves the web designer that took a risk with two successful SEO friendly flags to waive in front of the major search engines that can drive a significant amount of new traffic to their website.

  3. Have Fun and Be Creative

    All of the SEO techniques in the world cannot make web browsers fall in love with a designer’s website or their off-site content. It is important for web designers to have fun with the SEO content they generate, in order to ensure that it comes off as fresh and original and invites web browsers to explore and interact with both on and off-site content in its entirety.

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