Stripped Down Basics for Search Engine Optimization

You might of heard about the recent Google search engine updates called “Farmer” or “Panda” and the resulting panic from affected businesses.  I am not going to get into the details of what happened and why, but rather, I am going to comment on what to do now.

There are always ideas and instructions floating around on how to get to the top but none of these are substitutes for the most important lesson, stick to the basics and you can ride through almost any search engine storm. You can explore the latest search engine optimization fads but wait until after the basics are covered.

Page Optimization

Search engines are not only looking at the content of a site but also the quality. Displaying a website with good text but so many problems that it crashes your browser is not going to be in the best interest of the search engine. Google also factors in page load time as it’s trying to deliver fast results and people don’t want to wait for your site to load.

  1. Make sure your code is efficient
  2. Make sure your images are optimized
  3. Use the proper tags in reasonable amounts: H1-H6, bold, italics, alt, lists, etc.
  4. Use text links that identify the page you are going to (learn more and click here don’t help you at all)
  5. make sure your pages are accessible by search engines and the bulk of the people visiting your site
  6. Don’t put your text in images. Search engines can’t read images.
  7. Link keywords and key phrases in paragraphs of text to related pages.
  8. Make sure each page is optimized for the content that is on it and it is not stuffed with keywords

Get links pointing to your site

Search engines find websites by traveling from one site to another through links. If you don’t have any links pointing to your site, a search engine may not find it. If it does it may consider it very unimportant, after all, if your site isn’t important enough for others to link to it then why should they.  Getting other websites to link to your site can be difficult and frustrating but here are some tips.

  1. Start with directories. They don’t count for much but they are better than nothing.
  2. Don’t worry about page rank. Worry more about the quality of the site as you want the traffic also
  3. Look at who links to your competitors. You may be able to get links from them also.
  4. Trading links is also beneficial, however, like directories they are not as beneficial as non-reciprocal links
  5. Use text links with your company name and if possible, some keywords about your business. Every site has their own set of standards so just get what you can.

Original content

This is a hotly contested area as a lot of ecommerce content is copied from manufacturers. Some will say that you can be banned for having duplicate content but that isn’t true. Try to make the copy your own and your rankings should show the results. If you don’t have time to rewrite product descriptions for 1000 products then at least try to  change some words here or there.  I also notice that big corporations are not immune from bad writing and mistakes so correcting those is a great place to start.

One last note

Google actually gives the best piece of advice (in my own words) when it comes to search engine optimization. “Make sure your pages are optimized for people because in most cases, what is good for people is good for Google”.

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