What You Should Know About SEO

September 18, 2009

Search engine optimization is an entire industry onto itself. Organizations with large online footprints that can afford to hire experts usually do. For this reason, SEO can seem intimidating. But, for casual bloggers who just want to feel a little more popular or useful by allowing more searchers to stumble upon their content, it needn’t be.

Here are five SEO tips you can start applying today that require minimal extra effort:

  1. Include four to five keywords in your home page’s title tag. Be authentic. The keywords should accurately reflect what’s on the site. The site for my hometown paper, The Baltimore Sun, has well-written title tag keywords: “breaking news, sports, weather and traffic in Baltimore.”
  2. Post often. Also vary the length and frequency of your posts. This helps convince search engines your site is being written by a human and not a robot.
  3. Always, always include alt text for images and media. This creates more copy that may potentially match search terms. (It’s also an accessibility commandment.)
  4. Link to high quality content (.edu and .gov sites are especially good). Engines love connections and hate dead ends. Look for places where the copy naturally lends itself to a hyperlink but don’t link just for the sake of linking.
  5. What you shouldn’t do is as important as what you should do. Don’t try to game the system through keyword stuffing or invisible links. Search engines penalize for these and, if they get wind of them, so will readers. Protect your ranking. Protect you brand. Stick to white hat techniques.

There’s a whole SEO universe beyond this, of course, and that universe is constantly changing. Here’s a look at what the future may hold:

  • Greater attention will be paid to optimizing for clearinghouses other than search engines. Restaurants, for example, would be wise to pay attention to Urban Spoon. Airlines, Kayak. Social networking sites will also demand greater attention.
  • As mobile devices proliferate, ensuring pages come up in locational searches will become increasingly important.
  • Optimizing for multiple languages is an important aspect of SEO in Europe. As the world continues to get smaller, this will become more common in relatively linguistically homogenous regions like North America.

One Response to “What You Should Know About SEO”

  1. mderoberts Says:

    These are some great tips, Steve. I look forward to implementing them in my webbing expeditions.

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