Suppose you have a website about plastic surgery. You have invested a lot of time putting valuable information, videos, pictures, forms to enlist subscribers, free reports and the rest of good stuff. To your misfortune, you decide one day to Google your website out so you sit in front your PC, open your browser, open up Google and type “plastic surgery” and hit the enter button. For the amount of work done which sure to be proud of you expect your website name and URL to be listed at least in the first 5 pages of the search results. To your dismay you keep looking and looking, but you don’t find even in the first 50 pages of the search results. Welcome to the latest internet age where the World Wide Web is saturated enough with millions and millions of websites that cover every topic and subject you can think of.
In the past, it was relatively easy to have your website indexed and seen in the first few pages of search engine results, but it is much more difficult now. Google in particular, the king of search engines, has been making life harder and harder for website owners and SEO specialists to get good ranking in its search results. To the point that even if you use pay per click campaigns or PPC (paying to get good rankings) and your website isn’t optimized, you still will not get good positions with cost effective bids on your ads! This is how hard it has become.
You probably heard of the short word SEO in many websites and forums, which is an abbreviation of Search Engine Optimization. In fact, I can assure you that you probably have heard of SEO many more times than the long word because everybody uses the short name. It is one of the hottest and most pursued topics in today’s saturated internet era and you should have probably guessed why by now if you have some knowledge about how search engines function. If not, don’t worry as this is why I’m writing this article.
SEO is a set of optimization steps and procedures that website owners and programmers undertake to improve their ranking in organic (unsponsored) search engine results. Why is it important? Because if done, it translates to huge amounts of free traffic versus paying for it in sponsored results like pay per click campaigns. This by itself saves thousands of dollars of advertising costs which other advertisers pay gladly to attract traffic and make their ads placed in better positions in search engine results. One important point that I have to clarify is that distributing so many links pointing back to your website around the internet and getting free traffic from it doesn’t by itself mean that your website is optimized as many people might think. Your website is optimized only if you see your website address within the first 1 to 5 pages of the organic (unpaid) search engine results.
Now let’s get to the good stuff…how to optimize a website to be visible in the first few pages of search engine results. The rules that Google demands have become harder and harder and a lot has to be done for a website to get to that sweet spot in the first page of Google search results. I’m going to list the tasks that have to be done for maximum optimization of your website. All has to be done to get better results. Doing it needs time, dedication and might require probably some more knowledge about HTML and website structure. If you don’t have some background and haven’t used an HTML editor before, I recommend that you read more books or guides on the subject and practice a bit on a simple HTML editor like Front Page. Here are the tasks you have to do. Pay attention to the ranking:-
1- Your website URL: – That’s the first thing to consider. Your domain name should be the first thing you optimize before anything else. Let’s go back to the plastic surgery website example. A good name would be “plasticsurgeon.com” or “plasticsurgery.com”. Notice that the URL directly clarifies what content is exactly in that website. In case if the words you chose were already taken by others, you can try alternative arrangement of words or come up with synonyms that serve the same meaning like “cosmeticsurgery.com” or “plasticbeauty.com”. A bad choice would be “beautylab.com” or “facefactory.com”. Notice how I used the “.com” in every example as this is what you should aim for. “.com” extensions are the preferred by search engines and more popular.
2- Content is king: – If I have to say this thousand times I will! Have really good content in your website and I mean a minimum of 10 pages of original good content in your website. Original content means it is not duplicated a lot online, it is your own original work (not a copy), has reasonable, but not excessive keyword density, perfect spelling and grammatically correct and is rich and informative.
3- Your website title: – No I don’t mean the title you have their on your website’s front page. I mean the title within the HTML code in your home page or is called the index. The index is the first page a browser will go to once your domain is called. Before the body tag and after the head tag there is a title tag. You have to fill in your website title in there to look for example like this “Plastic Surgery guide”. This is important because it is the first thing search engines will read to know what your website is all about. Your title has to be brief and to the point. 5 words maximum in my opinion.
4- Your Meta tags: – These are important tags in your HTML code that serve many purposes. Search engine love them. You can find them right after the body tags previously mentioned. You can use your meta tags to:-
a. Describe your website:- Write a brief description about your website. Not too long though. 20 words max. Search engines will read this to know what your website is all about. For example “Plastic Surgery issues and topics. Know the pros and cons before you think about doing cosmetic surgery”
b. Keywords for your website:- Write the keywords relevant to your website topic. 5 to 10 highly relevant keyword is good. Don’t flood the keyword tag with non relevant keywords thinking you will attract more attention. For example:- plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, face lift, bone construction, face restructuring etc.
c. To direct search engine crawlers to strictly follow only your home page or certain important pages in your website. Crawlers are used by search engines to find and index websites by sending robots or spiders to crawl pages and index them.
Apply as much of these meta tags on your website to suit your purposes specially the description and keyword tags.
5- The headlines and the subheads in your content. It organizes the content and search engines will read it and will like your content because it is organized. You have to use HTML headline tags in the code around your headlines. Put level 1 head tags around your main headline and level 2, 3, 4 etc. or lower importance headlines.
6- Use sitemaps: A sitemap is a XML document that has the names and paths of all files and folders of your website. It is created and placed in the root directory of your website. The sitemap is really important for search engines because it serves like the directory for your website and shows the crawlers where the other pages of your website are so they can crawl and index them too. This is important because a search result can lead to any of your pages not only to your home page. Using sitemaps you can also specify how often you want search engine spiders to crawl you website! You can create one for free in a website called XML-sitemaps.com. Once created, you should go to Google webmasters tools page and add the sitemap so Google crawlers can find its path.
7- Use videos: – Search engines of these days like videos. Place a couple of nice videos in your website. You can make videos yourself or you can simply pick a video you like from YouTube, copy the imbed code and paste in the desired place into your HTML codethat’s it. Google owns YouTube you know and they like videos!
8- Use your images to be found: – Search engine love images. Make your website colorful with nice and relevant images. Place a description on your images that will lead to your website if an image search was done. In the HMTL code of your pictures place an “alt” tag and pick a good name for the picture that has keywords relevant to your website.
9- Set up a blog and connect it to your website: – Choose word press (the most spread) or blog spot (Google owned). The kind of blog I’m talking about is a blog that is hosted by your own server and its files and folders exist in your website’s root folder not the blog’s server. A lot of hosting accounts have a feature in their c-panel for an easy 3 clicks blog setup. Google likes blogs and it will help you a lot to have one.
10- As many relevant links to your website as possible: – notice that I mentioned it late, not to degrade its importance, but simply to show that it isn’t the single most important thing in SEO. Try to make as many high ranking websites that have topics relevant to you link to your website. I mean one way link as 2 way reciprocal links will not work as before. Find high ranking websites about plastic and cosmetic surgery and ask them to link to you. You have to be creative to make them do it or offer something in return other than a link back to them! If they agree to link to you, the link text itself has to have keywords relevant to you!
As can be seen from all of the above, SEO is a lot of hard work! Even SEO companies that charge thousands of dollars and have specialized teams to optimize sites sometimes don’t achieve the significant results that they desire. Still, you are far better off applying the SEO techniques described above than doing nothing. It will definitely benefit your website in both the short and long term. A last piece of advice, if you really want to grab that number 1 position in the first page, it will be much easier by choosing a topic on a small niche. It might be something that you are not interested in, but it will help a lot.
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