I’m very happy to feature a guest post from Conrad Walton on the blog this week. Conrad helps people get their sites found by search engines by helping them with SEO — Search Engine Optimization. In today’s post, he shares his top tips for making your website stand out. If you still have questions after reading this post, let him know in the comments. –Pamela Wilson
In 7th grade, I really liked Diane. Everything about her was awesome.
She was a friend of friends, so when she would see me in the hall at school, she would smile at me and say “Hi.”
I knew she liked me as much as I liked her, otherwise, why would she smile and say “Hi” to me?
When I thought the time was right, I told her I liked her and wanted her to “go steady”.
Her answer was “Eeew! No way!”
I was crushed.
I had misread the signals.
Search engines are no smarter than I was in 7th grade. They are trying to read the signals too.
Here are 5 simple steps to BIG Search Engine Optimization.
1. Understand how search engines work
Search engines visit every page they can find on the web. They notice certain things about each page and keep track of these bits of information.
As they look at each page, they calculate and score each page for specific keywords. When they have scores for each page and each keyword, they store that information in an index.
When a user does a search for a keyword, they look into the index to see which page has the highest score for that keyword. It’s simple to look up scores and compare them.
Getting the high score for the keyword is the hard part.
In 7th grade, I had a hard time figuring out what the signals meant.
2. Pick your keyword
You should target a specific keyword or set of keywords and spend all of your effort on those alone.
Some keywords are very competitive and some are not. Some keywords have a lot of people searching for them and some do not.
How do you pick which one to target? Compare how many people are searching for a keyword with how many other pages there are on the web that contain that keyword. Google has a keyword tool that you can use to get these numbers.
You want a keyword with the least amount of competition and the most amount of traffic.
In 7th grade, there were some girls that everyone wanted, and some that no one wanted. Traffic vs. competition. Rude, but the same thing.
3. On site factors
Everything that exists on your web site is a signal.
Make sure you use your keyword in the content of the page. Make it obvious what the page is about.
Put the keyword in the title of the page. The title is a very strong signal.
If you can, use it in the URL also. Some web pages let you create your own URL for each page. Take advantage of that if you can.
They also notice how often the site is updated and how many pages are on the site. If you blog regularly, you’ll be hitting both of those marks.
The 7th grade version is what you wear, what music you like, and what you say to people.
4. Off site factors
More than anything else, the importance of your web site is determined by what everyone else says about it.
Like in 7th grade, it doesn’t matter what you say about yourself. It only matters what everyone else says about you.
Get as many inbound links to your site that you can. If you can get them from popular kids — I mean sites — that’s even better.
The words they use in the links help a lot. If everyone is using your keyword to link to you, you’ll rank higher for that keyword.
5. Use social media
Search engines didn’t look at social media until about 6 months ago. Now it’s being considered too.
There’s a lot we don’t know about how they are using it, so there’s controversy about the direct value.
The real strength in social media is to actually be social.
If you make real friends, build relationships with people, you’ll have more people who will link to you and say nice things about you.
The more people you know, the more connected you’ll be. The more real connections you make, the more they will be reflected in the signals that the search engines look at.
Links are worth something, but the people are worth more.
All grown up
I’ve gotten much better at reading signals since 7th grade.
I found Victoria, a woman who actually IS awesome, and I married her. In less than a month, we’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
Search engines are getting smarter too.
We can game them by working the signals, but in the end, as long as you write compelling content for real people, everything else will fall into place. They’ll figure it out eventually.
Sometime around college, I discovered that I should just be myself and not worry too much about what people said.
Bottom line SEO advice? Brush your teeth, wear clean underwear, and be nice to people.
Everything will work out.
What signals are you sending out?