1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Basic SEO practices for newbies:

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by GreyWolf, May 8, 2010.

Tags:
  1. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    I've been recieving a few PMs lately along the lines of this one.
    The answer is "not really". I'm not even close to being some kind of SEO guru, the questions I've been answering lately are all just pretty basic.

    There are a lot of people better at SEO than me, so if you want a consultant you should try checking in the BST services threads. In fact I purchase services from the BST threads myself. If you do your due diligence before choosing a service provider, I've found that the sellers here on bhw are some of the best anywhere.

    So, rather than keep answering individual PMs, I'll just make this thread and send them here from now on.

    Basic SEO practices for newbies:

    The thing to remember is that SEO isn't a magic bullet. It's important, but no one knows the exact algorithms the SEs use, and each one is different so all you can do is optimize the best you can. There happens to be a few things that you should just always do whenever you make a new website. Don't stress over every little thing, just make sure you are doing it, this should just become kind of automatic for you.

    Make sure you fill in your meta tags with a good title, description, and the right keywords. I personally don't think the keywords meta-tag is nearly as important as everyone else on here does, but it gives me a way to organize my keywords list for me to reference. When you start having many different websites, it's good to include whatever notes to yourself you can. When you come back to work on an older site you might not remember eveything you were thinking before. The metatags help you remember your site info as much as it helps the SE figure it out. A good rule of thumb is that anything that won't hurt you for SEO and might help, you should use and use correctly. Definately use the title meta-tag, try to include keywords in the title. Definately use the description meta-tag, google will normally use this for the summary it displays in the listing. It isn't used for indexing so write it for humans, this is what gets people to click on your link when they see it in the SERP. Don't use the same metatags for every page on your site. Take the time to make them be specific to each page.

    Create good content. Make sure you have some decent content. Content is what the internet was invented for. If you have unique and quality content, then all the seo and backlinking you're doing is just to get the ball rolling. Give them what they want, show them where it is, and they'll start coming. If it's good enough then it'll eventually start building on its own naturally because people like what they found. That's the idea anyway. So whenever possible use the best page design and the best content possible. Avoid duplicate content between different pages on your site, the SE will most likely penalize your site for that.

    Remember, your content isn't just something to get google to like your site, it is the whole point of your site. The content and how you structure it is what will make visitors do what you want when they get there. If it's crap they'll just leave, and 99% of them won't leave by clicking on your adsense or affilliate link, they'll just close the window or use the back button. (yes, of course if your doing blackhat stuff you can make the browser go where you want, but that's for a different discussion.)

    Include your keywords. Structure your content correctly, make a few title headers in the content that include keywords (use header tags h1, h2, etc.), try to have a keyword density around 2% in your content, and maybe 4% for the whole page including the metatags, alt tags, anchors, etc.

    Be sure that your .htaccess is set up correctly. Decide on which way you want your url to be and stick with it. If you decide to use www then always use it like that in your links, don't use both. I usually set up a 301 for all www requests to redirect to non-www urls. If you don't set that up then every single page on your site can appear to google as having at least one duplicate. If that's the only thing wrong on your site it isn't going to kill you, but it's so easy to fix. If you don't know how to set up a redirect in your .htaccess file then just do a search, there are many other threads explaining it. Check google if you can't find it here. Also, .htaccess only apples if your on an Apache server, Windows servers do it a little differently, if that applies to you then just search google to find out how to do it. If your consitent in your linking, then the only time the redirect will come into play is if you get natural backlinks that you have no control over. You should also specify which you prefer, www or not-www in google tools if you use it. (If you don't then you really should, I recommend you set yourself up an account for webmaster tools and analytics.)

    Make a robots.txt file and I like to include a favicon because without them the robots will trigger file not found errors on your server. Be sure to configure your robots.txt correctly. Make a custom 404 page. If your site has more than just a couple of pages then also create a sitemap.xml file. It's not a bad idea to just create a sitemap anyway no matter what, it lets you define the structure of your site to the crawlers. Just search google if you don't know how to do any of that, it's very basic and you can find exact instructions within a minute when you do a search.

    Other than that there isn't a lot more you can do for on-site SEO. When people ask about SEO they're always thinking of on-site SEO, but thats the easy and quick part. Just do it and get on with it.

    Everything else is off-site SEO and involves building backlinks and promotion.
    This is where you need to focus your efforts. This is where the magic bullet is, if there really is one.

    Social Bookmarks, Directory Submissions, Profile Links, and Blog Comments are really the easiest place to start getting backlinks. It's not a bad idea to purchase these links from a service. They are easy to make, but to do it right they really need to be posted from many different accounts and ip adresses. A good idea when your starting is to do it yourself a little bit to see how it works, then purchase larger quantities from a service. You want to get a lot of links, but you don't want to over do it. Building to fast can look unnatural, just do some searches and read up on it a little more. How many and how fast is a judgement call you have to make. hold off on more complex linkbuilding until you have a little more experience. Linkwheels and other link structures can be very powerful, but can also hurt your site a lot if not done correctly.

    Whenever possible include keyword anchors and title or alt tags on your backlinks. Don't always use the same anchors, vary it up a little, use 3 or 4 different keywords and even do a few with some non keyword anchors. You are trying to look as though a lot of different real people have taken a liking to your site, if it were natural then all links wouldn't be exactly the same, so you want to simulate that same type of randomness. Backlinking strategies are all about simulating the natural events that happen as a site grows in popularity. If you can do it successfully then the SE's will give you good position in the listings, and then hopefully what you are simulating can become reality. The point of all of it is to get traffic.

    Change up your anchor text. The idea of backlinking is to simulate that masses of people are becoming interested in your site. It should have some amount of randomness to it in order to look natural. I've seen a few made up stats on what's best, but I think a good rule of thumb is maybe about 45% primary keywords, 35% secondary keywords, and about 15% random unrelated like Click Here, and then about 5% just the url. The exact percentage isn't dramatically important, it just needs to seem like the linking is natural.

    Create relevant articles containing your keywords, include backlinks using keyword anchors, and submit to article directories. Article directories are mostly authority sites and your article becomes a relevant backlink to your site. Then create profiles and accounts on blogs, social networking sites, forums etc. Include a link to your website whenever you do that and each one of those become backlinks as well.

    Thats the end of it. Well kinda.
    Go back and watch your stats to see what keywords are getting the most traffic to your site, analyze the data a little bit and if you need to, remove or add keywords to your content and tags, and adjust the anchors your using in your backlinks.

    Continue building links. Remember you're trying to artificially create the appearance to the SE that your site is popular. When that happens naturally, people are always adding new links to your site. Since you are trying to look natural you have to do the same thing. Linkbuilding never stops completely.

    OK, there you go. That's that basics of SEO. Everything else is about fine tuning, and has to be looked at for each individual situation.

    If you have any more questions, before you start PMing anyone just read through the threads in the White Hat SEO section, and do some searching on google. You can find some really good information from some much smarter people than me.

    If there are any SEO gurus that want to expand on this or if you see any errors you think should be discussed, please add your input.

    Hope this can help some of you. :beerchug:
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1,658
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  2. C.S.A.

    C.S.A. Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    242
    Good collection of basic advice. It's nice to see it all collected into one place for newbies. I have a few things to add.

    Read the google blogs. They contain a lot of basic advice, but occasionally have a glimpse into the inner workings, and may help dispel common myths passed around in our community.

    I'll reinforce your comment about the meta keywords with a link to official google word on it:
    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html
    Don't overstuff your keywords, in some cases google uses that as a spam indicator. Google doesn't use meta keywords at all, though other search engines might. My source on the search quality team at google agrees that this is true.

    The www/non-www optimization isn't for google. Google knows that www is the same as non-www in most cases, and absolutely does not penalize that as duplicate content. Removing the www may improve things slightly for other search engines. Follow the advice here closely:
    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html

    I can't emphasize enough that you should have webmaster tools and analytics accounts. If you don't know what you're doing wrong, you can't fix it. Both of those help you figure out how your site is performing, where your traffic is coming from, and alert you in advance to problems. Get both accounts even if your site is completely black hat. If you know how to analyze your traffic without them, that's great, but they add legitimacy to your site, since most real webmasters use them.

    Learn about nofollow and do*follow links. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of putting your link all over the web, but in most cases, nofollow links are useless to building your rank. (some people disagree with this, but I think they have not done their own experiments)

    This is a good intro to classic pagerank and gives further good hints about how ranking and nofollow work:
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/

    Don't get caught up on pagerank numbers. It's only meant as an extremely rough guide, and (again, based on conversations with google engineers) it's not actually a strong part of their ranking algorithm these days. Aim instead for content relevancy. If your site is relevant, it will rank better than less relevant sites with high pagerank.

    The last thing to remember as you're building your external backlinks is the authority of the linking site. Sites that are ranked highly themselves carry more weight for outgoing links. Pages with fewer outgoing links carry more weight. There is disagreement about how the ranking of a root site carries over to pages within it, but many people (myself included) feel that the weight of an individual page is the most important determining factor in the value of an outgoing link. This means that things like profile links and links at the bottom of forum posts carry very little weight unless the profile or forum post itself is relevant. This is why 15 well placed do*follow links from authority pages will place a page higher than a similar page with 200K forum spam links.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 215
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
  3. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    Great addition. I didn't go into PR because it's a much more involved topic. A lot of people have some real misconceptions about PR, what it's for, how it's used, and how to get it. The summary you just gave is great.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 12
  4. mylander

    mylander Newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Are you using a link silo structure?
    Thanks for the detailed post man...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  5. str8thustler

    str8thustler Power Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Messages:
    669
    Likes Received:
    243
    Occupation:
    ClientMAX Marketing
    Location:
    Philly
    Home Page:
    Great post, thank you everyone who contributed. Pretty much covered what you need to know about seo
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  6. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    yeah I like link silos. really I like any structures that can simulate natural linking. Link Silos and Linkwheels if structured properly can really be really powerful. I think to really have the best effect you need to have good on-site seo and a lot of basic backlinking, then add some link structures. Having too much structured links, without already having a large amount of random backlinks looks too unnatural. I'll probably expand on that topic in another thread later.

    For now if your thinking about structures just remember -
    Silos - when you create a link silo, all the silos have to be independent of each other, NO cross linking at all. If they were natural they wouldn't be linking to each other. You're trying to create multiple authority sites that are linking to you. Also, be sure to use unique, high quality, relevant content for each of the silos.

    Wheels - when you make a linkwheel, you have to vary from the original balanced spoke, closed wheel approach. It doesn't work anymore, the footprint is too unnatural. The link wheel needs to be more of an open ended web extending out from your site. The interlinking should appear random, but be designed to feed as much pr as possible to the hub site.

    Ideally you'll create seperate linkwheels that link to each of your silos, and then link each silo to your main site. To appear even more natural, use a different link wheel structure to feed each of the silos.

    But lets get back on topic.

    The point of this thread is more basic seo. Structures by there very nature are going to leave a footprint. If done wrong they can do more harm than good. I think link structures are better left to a more advance thread.

    This thread is to help give people starting out with SEO, a good foundation to work on.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 27
  7. shaunpollock2008

    shaunpollock2008 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    26
    nice share
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  8. Codythebest

    Codythebest Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,138
    Likes Received:
    880
    Location:
    Fuerteventura
    Home Page:
    Rename your pictures.
    If you have a couple of pictures of photos in your page, rename them with relevant keywords.
    Example: if you have a site about selling Ford Mustang.
    Rename the first pix/photo as 1964-ford-mustang-for-sale.jpg
    and the second one as used-ford-mustang-cheap.jpg
    instead of the usual photo1.jpg and photo2.jpg

    That will bring more images traffic as well.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 55
  9. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    Good catch Cody. I didn't think to mention that.

    This is a little more than basic SEO, but so easy to do. It is so automatic for me I didn't even think to mention it. Absolutely give your images descriptive names as often as possible. Keyword names are even better if they apply. Like Codythebest says, if you use the pictures correctly then you might even get listed in google images.

    Also use keywords in your img src tags by using title= and alt=.

    One other thing I like to do is provide a thumbnail image for social bookmarking sites. Just include this link rel in your head section, I usually put it right after my meta tags:
    Code:
    <link rel="image_src" href="http://xxxxxxxxx.com/xxxx.jpg" />
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 8
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  10. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    Sure its possible. PR is determined by the quality of its incoming links. So if you have more high PR backlinks pointing to one of your subpages, then that page can have a higher PR.

    You're main page is normally the highest ranked page because it's what you do most of your backlinking and seo for. But if you have a subpage that's getting a lot of natural backlinks, and some of them are from high pr sites then that page can get a higher PR.

    High PR can make your page more valuable if you want to sell it, or if you want to sell links or advertising on it. Remember PR doesn't really help your site for indexing, but it does help who you're linking to.

    A little off topic, but still a good question, thanks. :beerchug:
    Let's get back to discussing Basic SEO in this thread.
    ...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 5
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  11. sigmafactor

    sigmafactor Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    16
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Porto Alegre/Brazil
    Home Page:
    I would like to better understand a doubt I have, and hope some of you can help me.

    I have a site ranked at the first position for it's kw in Google. When I look for it at Google Keyword tool I see it has around 2,400 searches/month but my site receives only around 400 visits. Don't I have to receive more vistors ?

    thanks in advance for all comments.

    Sigmafactor
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  12. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    It's possible that your site's title or summary that gets displayed just doesn't look as relevant as what your seo strategy has got you indexed for.

    There are many time's that I'll do a search for something and I won't even click on the first few listings because they are obviously not what I want. The keywords look relevant, but I can tell without even going there that it isn't what I'm looking for.

    Definately getting to number one is a goal, but all google will do is show it to the searcher, it won't make them click.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 10
  13. Codythebest

    Codythebest Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,138
    Likes Received:
    880
    Location:
    Fuerteventura
    Home Page:
    Not necessary. Fot that particularly keyphrase, not all 2400 visitors will click on #1. I personally never click on #1, but much more on #2, #3 or #4. It's a tendence. Even adwords begin to charge more for the #3 spot.
    400 visitors is a bit low though, because I'm sure you have visitors coming from another keywords or keyphrases search or even no organic traffic...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  14. Codythebest

    Codythebest Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,138
    Likes Received:
    880
    Location:
    Fuerteventura
    Home Page:
    Here is another trick I do to increase my traffic:

    For a specific keyword/keyphrase, I check who's on top. I check their stats if possible and see what are the 3 top keywords their visitors use to get to their site.
    I ad those 3 keywords in my title (or in a page's title) and also in my content, as close as possible to the beginning of that content.
    I can double my traffic in about 1 month or even less, all depending on Google speed...

    If you have that mustang site, you could do that for any items' page and get them higher in SERP and better traffic for those pages.

    I'm all talking white hat here...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 32
  15. shaunpollock2008

    shaunpollock2008 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    26
    thanks for all this info
     
  16. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    @sigmafactor - another thing that might help regarding your summary description.

    Google will usually get the summary from the description meta tag in your head section.
    You don't need to stuff it with keywords, google doesn't use it for indexing at all.

    It's simply a way for you to have a little control over what is displayed when your page shows up in the serp. When you fill out the description meta tag, write it for the humans. Try to give them a reason to click on your listing.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 5
  17. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    I'm not sure what you mean by ranking. If you mean PR then no. PR has nothing to do with SERP.

    If you mean will it affect your position in the SERPs, well that depends. It's still new but I think all thats really changed is that its easier for users to change indexes.

    So as long as they leave it on Everything then your position should be the same as it would have been before. But it is a lot more friendly for the user to click on the filters now, so if they click on News, Images, Books, etc. then of course your position won't be the same.

    Well actually I guess it will be the same as if they had clicked on the filter before, it's just slightly more likely that they'll do it now. But, it'll be in a different position than if they just stay on the standard search page.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  18. wulf2ram

    wulf2ram BANNED BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    18
    I think youve touched on the basics and its a good start for most people a lot of people will forget about the htaccess setup.

    I think ill just slightly touch on some things.

    h tags - Each tag should be used only once but these are important factors and should not be forgotten. Each page should have a h1 and a h2 where possible.

    IMPORTANT - when you purchase a website template look out in the preview for usage of h tags in the source code. This is very bad programming and you will spend a while correcting all this. They use them to work with css selectors.

    meta description - holds no serp value for google but still does on other search engines the amount of "seo expert" sites ive seen just not bothering put one or just a list of keywords is scary. Do not forget this tag - mainly make it short clear and accurate to the content that is on the site. 150 characters being the maximum display for google this is a good length.

    meta keywords - as above regardless of if it holds less ranking with google dont forget this tag. But dont abuse it this tag should contain keywords or phrases normally found in your h1-h6 tags or in the content of the webpage. If you cant find the keyword dont put it!

    Title tags - H1 | H2 | H3 | Domain Name

    Hope this helps ;) keep up the good work grey
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 7
  19. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Executive VIP Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    5,389
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Artist / Craftsman
    Location:
    sitting at my PC
    Actually ranking for a keyword and Page Rank are two different things.
    • How high the PR is for your own page will have little effect on its SERP position.
    • How well your own page ranks for a keyword will dramatically affect its position in the SERP.
    • The PR of the pages you get your backlinks from does have an effect on your pages own PR, it's ranking for a keyword, and it's position in the SERP. So, the higher PR pages are the better pages to get backlinks from.
    Most importantly though for the purpose of this thread, there is a lot of debate about PR. Everyone knows it's important, but how, why, and when are constantly discussed and debated. That's why I didn't address PR when I wrote the first post.

    Other than letting them know that higher PR backlinks are desirable while they're building backlinks, PR is outside the scope of what someone new needs to worry about.

    I started this thread for people just getting started in SEO. I tried to stick to the basic things they should do that are easy to understand and pretty much everyone agrees on.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  20. Bestbuyfoam

    Bestbuyfoam Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,637
    Likes Received:
    536
    This is one of the best threads on BHW I love it and is an AWESOME SHARE...
    Love how you break it down for us noobs...

    Thanks
    And have a blessed one...
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1