Search Engine Optimation (SEO) Simplified

Posted on August 17th, 2007 in Search Engines by jed

I recently had a friend ask me about submitting his employer’s site to search engines so that he could get indexed and ranked as high as possible. While there are hundreds of sites I could have pointed him to (I’ll like a bunch of my favorites at the end of this post), I’ve distilled all the tips I’ve ever read down to three simple rules, in order of importance (I’ll elaborate on them further below). The following is mostly just clipped from the email I sent him, with a few minor edits:

  1. Put good, reasonably well written, useful content on your site.
  2. Have popular sites link to you.
  3. Link to popular sites.

SEO Importance Pie Chart

  1. Put good, reasonably well written, useful content on your site. This is by FAR the most important thing you can do to get a good search engine ranking (seriously, this probably 90% of it). If you do a google search for “printing services”, you will notice that all the top sites (that aren’t ads) have something in common on their home pages: lots of words that say meaningful stuff. And not pictures of words, actual words. I notice that your site has a lot of pictures of words, but if I look at the source there isn’t much there that describes what you do. You’ve gotta say, in actual text on the page: what you do, why you are special or different than everyone else, and why someone should continue to look at your site and/or purchasesomething from you. And all that has to be in grammatically correct sentences that make sense and aren’t hidden using special tricks with CSS or JavaScript.If you really want to one-up everyone else, you could also provide some meaningful content on your site that helps people even if they don’t buy your services. For example, if you have a site that is a print shop, create some pages that have free useful articles and tips. Some examples I can think of are:
    • things to look out for when shopping around for a print house
    • questions to ask your printer before purchasing
    • tips to save money on printing costs
    • tips to really make an impact with what you are printing
    • the truth about paper quality
    • you get the idea
  2. Have popular sites link to you. This counts for about 8% of the remaining 10. While the best way would be for popular sites to decide they like you so much that they spontaneously decide to link to you, but there are some places where you can get links “for free” to help things get started. Submit the your content to digg, del.icio.us, reddit, blinklist, stumbleupon, reddit, furl, and every other “social” news/bookmark service you can find. Have all the employees at your company go home and vote up your content from there (make sure they do it from home and not the office, cause it will be obviously bogus if 50 diggs come from 1 IP address).
  3. Link to popular sites. Link to other sites that have good and popular content. This accounts for about 1.5% of your rank (with the final .5% being miscellaneous other stuff that isn’t worth bothering with). Don’t get too tricky with the linking though, cause if you are obviously trying to artificially inflate your pagerank google will squash you off the face of the Internet. And don’t for a second think you are smarter than they are and won’t get caught, or that they are too big and you are too small. There are a bazillion worker bees at google and they are all smarter than you and I put together. In addition to that, they have super smart robots that have already started taking over the world.

That is about all I have to say on the subject at the moment, but here are a few links to get you started on researching it more for yourself (I’m only putting a few links here now, will add more later when I’m back at my home computer with all my bookmarks).

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