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Unlock Your Website's Potential with SEO

Lily O'Halloran

Nowadays the competition between websites is pretty fierce. You can have a super-sleek, modern web site that will knock people’s socks off, but still end up with little to no visitors. The reason… every web site is ranked by search engines. A search engine must deem your website as relevant to list your URL among search results. How, you may ask, can you make a search engine prefer your website over the myriads of websites on the Internet? The key to unlocking your website’s potential is search engine optimization (SEO). Implementing SEO strategies will not only enable your website to show up on search engine results, your website may yield placement in the coveted top ten results.

Influential Factors

Search engines use many variables to rank a web page. The most influential factors are: page content, link popularity, html tags, images with alternate keywords and captions, and having a site map. Website content is the most valuable factor to gaining a higher page rank. Your content should be high-quality, useful, informative, and use targeted keywords. Headings and article titles should also use targeted keywords and phrases as much as possible. The keywords should be applicable to the content of your website and not just packed in for search engines to find. Stuffing keywords into your content, or Meta tags, will actually backfire. Keyword packing worked well a short time ago, until search engine programmers caught on to the trick. Now you may actually receive a lower page rank when you pack irrelevant keywords into your page content. Content with targeted keywords is important. However, the content and keywords must be applicable to the products or service you are selling.

Hyperlinks are very beneficial to page ranking. Links may be incoming or outgoing; both types are valuable when they are relevant. Both incoming and outgoing links should be connected to quality websites. However, a website with links solely on the homepage can be set up by automation and appears shallow; thus search engines are not impressed. Links should be connected to as many pages in your website as possible; this shows the search engine that your website is deep with high-quality content. Always use titles for links, rather than the phrase “click here,” to increase your search engine ranking.

One way links are superior to link exchanges. Search engines look for reciprocal links, and may rank your website lower if they are found. For this reason, it is better to link your web site to quality websites in the same category without exchanging your link. This technique is handy for outgoing links, but you want to have incoming links as well. There are a couple methods you can use to gain incoming links. Register with niche directories. Niche directories are listings of websites and blogs that focus on a specific category, and enable you to create a one-way link to your website. As niche directories grow, your link may attract more visitors. Another great option to create one-way links is to submit high-quality articles to article directories or websites. Include a link back to your website, so that the reader can find more valuable information at your website. Article directories are very popular right now. Currently, Google seems to favor among a few others.

Try posting on forums to attract more visitors to your website. Many forums allow you to place a link in your post that leads back to your website. Always check forum guidelines to determine if links are allowed. You may be able to add a link in your signature line even if you are not allowed to in your post. Never try to pitch a sale on a forum post. Your post will be seen as spam, and do more harm than good. This rule applies to blog posts as well.

Optimize html tags to increase your search engine rank. Heading tags, such as <H1 >, <H2 >, <H3>, and so on, should be used for headlines and subtopics on your web pages. Search engines actually look for heading tags; consequently it is important to use keywords and phrases in headings throughout your pages. Bold and italic tags can be used to emphasize specific words, but they should not be used for design. Although search engines do not look at cascading style sheets (CSS), it is a best practice to use CSS to style your web pages. Style sheets enable you to code a cleaner web page that is easier for search engines to read and rank. Similarly, it is wise to store scripts in a separate folder and link the scripts to your page. This practice allows search engines to quickly and efficiently sift through website content. Storing style sheets and scripts in a separate document improves SEO by removing clutter and increasing keyword density.

Images are a great addition to a website, but search engines cannot “see” the images. By simply adding <ALT> tag text to your image, you add value to your website. ALT tag text is read by search engines and screen-readers for the blind. Keywords should be used for Alt text and for captions. Statistics show that more visitors read caption text than website headings or content. Therefore, both options create a chance to increase keyword density and your website rank in search results. Site maps enable search engines to find every web page on your website.

Maximize SEO Opportunities

This article covered simple SEO techniques that you can implement right away to improve your search engine ranking. However, as with every aspect of technology, SEO is ever-changing. Stay on top of current trends to maximize your SEO opportunities. Time spent studying SEO techniques is time well spent. The higher your website ranks, the more traffic your website will receive; more traffic leads to more sales. If SEO feels overwhelming, don’t fret. SEO is something that you should work on over time; it doesn’t need to be done all at once. In fact, search engines favor websites that use SEO to build their presence. Therefore, it is actually better to start slow. Stick with SEO and you will have a top ten website before you know it.

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