The Basics of SEO

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by Super_DL, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Super_DL

    Super_DL Newbie

    Jan 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    United Kingdom
    When you do a search on a search engine such as Google you are given a list of thousands of websites all ranked in order based on how good the search engine thinks those site are. You might be wondering how do they actually decide how to rank each site.

    Well first of all there are not people sitting at their computers all day long going through the billions of words you can type in and websites on the Internet and deciding themselves what?s good or not. Instead what happens is that the search engines have built software, which finds all the websites on the Internet and then decides what words they should rank for and how high they should rank for them.

    Nobody except the search engine programmers themselves know every single thing that is taken into account when ranking a website however there are some factors that influence rankings that are widely known and that the search engines themselves recommend you do. There are also things that people have found through trial and error and that are used by all those who are looking to increase their rank in the search engines.

    By following these well-known practises you have a better chance of ranking in the search engines and this process of improving your ranking is known as Search Engine Optimization and the people who perform SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) are known as Search Engine Optimizers.

    The first thing you need to do when it comes to improving your rank in the search engines is deciding what keywords you want your website to rank for. For those of you who don?t know, a keyword is a word or phrase you type into a search engine. For example if you are looking for information on how to lose weight and you typed into Google ?lose weight fast? then ?lose weight fast? is the keyword.

    To decide what keywords you want to target you first need to do some keyword research. To do keyword research you should sit down and write down all the words and phrases people might type in to find your site. For example if a page on your website talks about dog food then you might have:

    ? Dog Food
    ? Dog Food Facts
    ? Food For Dogs
    ? All About What Dogs Eat
    ? What Dogs Eat

    Once you have made your list of keywords you can then go and find more by heading over to Google and typing in your keywords one by one and clicking on related searches which will list some more keywords you might want to try and rank your website for. Make sure to write down all those that are relevant and repeat the process.

    You can also head over to Google?s Adwords Keyword Tool and take all the keywords you have so far and type them into the ?word and phrase box? and make sure exact match is selected and then click the search button and you will be given more related keywords and will also be told how much searches they get each month.

    Be sure to take note of how much searches your desired keywords get as you want them to get at least 1,000 searches each month as any less just isn?t worth the effort.

    Once you have finally got a good list of potential keywords for your website you will then want to see how hard it will be to rank for each one. A basic way to do this is to type the keyword in quotes into Google so for example if your keyword is cheap loans then type into Google ?cheap loans? and have a look at the amount of pages returned, anything less then 30,000 will be pretty easy to rank for.

    After you have decided on your keywords you then need to make sure you use those keywords on your website in special places, doing this is known as on-page SEO.

    When it comes to on-page SEO the places you want to use your keywords are:

    Title Tag

    The title tag is the <title></title> in your HTML code and the words in-between it are what will appear as your websites title and that will appear by default when people bookmark your page and will also appear in the browsers title bar.

    For example if your title tag is <title>All About Dogs</title> then your websites title is ?All About Dogs? and when somebody bookmarks your site then that?s what will be shown in their bookmark bar and it will also be shown on the browsers tab.

    The reason you want to use your keyword in the title tag is because the search engines use it as a relevancy factor. What that means is if the keyword is in your title then it?s more likely to be about that keyword than a site, which doesn?t have it in its title. For example if your keyword is ?dog biscuits? and your title is ?Buy Dog Biscuits? than your site is more likely to be about dog biscuits than a site which title is ?Really Funny Videos?.

    Meta Tags

    When talking about meta tags I?m talking about both the meta description tag which is <meta name="description" content="Description of your website here" /> and the meta keyword tag which is <meta name="keywords" content="List of your websites keywords separated by commas" />

    The meta-description tag is used to provide a description of your website to the search engines and sometimes it is used as the description of your website in the search engine results pages.

    You will want to use your keywords at least once in the meta-descriptions tag and you will also want to make sure it makes your site sound as good as possible as it can help increase the amount of people who click on your site when it is displayed in the search engines. Keep it short though as the search engines only read so much of it and cut the rest off so keep it no longer than 155 characters.

    With the meta-keywords tag you are just listing the keywords you think your site is about, using commas to separate each one. The meta-keywords tag is basically worthless as it used to play a big part in early search engines but it was abused and any weight the search engines do put on it is going to be so small it?s hardly worth bothering about. Seeing though that it takes like 5 minutes to implement you might as well do it just to cover yourself.


    In HTML you can make certain parts of your text headings and you can use various sizes to denote importance. There are actually six levels of heading and level one is the uttermost highest and important level and six is the lowest of them all.

    In your websites HTML code you can see if some text is a heading or not as it will be in the middle of a <h#> and </h#>, # being the level of heading. For example the title of your website would be a level one heading as it?s of uttermost importance so your HTML code might look like <h1>My Websites Title</h1>.

    You will want to use your keywords in your headings especially your h1 heading as the search engines see it as if you have that keyword in your most important heading then it?s very likely your site is about that topic so again another relevancy factor.


    You will of course want to make sure to use your keywords in your actual website content. It might seem pretty obvious but you will be surprised how many people never actually use their keyword in their content. So, if your keyword is ?buy dog biscuits? then make sure on your page you mention that keyword and more then once if possible, three times is around the best number.

    Internal Links

    When it comes to links to your website there are those you have control over and there are those you don?t have control over. You don?t have control over other sites that link to you but you do have control over the links from one page of your website to another page of your website aka your internal links.

    With most websites they link to other pages of their site using words like ?click here? or ?read more? or maybe even using an image. Doing any of those however is a bad idea as, as I will cover in more detail soon, backlinks (the links to your website) are used by the search engines to determine what to rank you for and how high to rank you for it and links from one page of your site to another are one of the most easiest ways to get backlinks especially if you have loads of pages.

    Because of this you want to make sure to use your keywords in links going to other pages to your site so if one of your websites pages keyword is ?Muscle Building Secrets? then link to it as ?Muscle Building Secrets?.

    Now that you have your On-Page SEO covered you need to move to the most important part of SEO, which is Off-Page SEO. While On-Page SEO is all about what?s on your site, Off-Page SEO is all about other websites linking to your website.

    You see when it comes to ranking in the search engines, links to your website also known as backlinks are the most important factor as it gives the search engines a way to decide how respected your site is so they can decide where to rank it.

    There was a time when backlinks weren?t used in the equation of ranking websites instead search engines just relied on on-page SEO and if people wanted to rank high then they just repeated their keyword over and over on their page and this led to low quality sites ranking high and even sites ranking for keywords they shouldn?t have.

    With backlinks though this isn?t a problem anymore as somebody will only link to your website if it?s of great quality so the search engines can use each backlink as an indicator of your sites quality. Therefore the more backlinks you have the higher you should rank in the search engines as your site is seen as high quality by the search engines.

    Me saying that the more links the better is actually simplifying the whole backlinking process as there is far more to it as not every backlink is created equally.

    What do I mean?

    Well when it comes to ranking for your keyword you want to have backlinks that use your keyword as the anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable words of the link. The reason it?s important to have your keyword in the anchor text is because the search engines use that to decide what your web page is about. What better way to decide what a site is about then using what other people think the site is about?

    Therefore if your keyword is ?muscle building supplements? to rank higher for it make sure you get links to your site using the anchor text ?muscle building supplements?.

    Sure any link will help increase your rank for your target keyword but links with the keyword as the anchor text will help far more then those that don?t.

    This leads onto something else that is important, anchor text diversity. Anchor text diversity is just making sure that not all your backlinks use the same anchor text. This is essential because it looks pretty un-natural if everybody is linking to you as ?muscle building supplements? as normally people would link to you using a number of different anchor text.

    Make sure then to use your keyword in your backlinks anchor text and rotate it with around 4 more other phrases. For example maybe ?muscle building supplements?, ?click here?, ?learn about muscle building supplements? and ?supplements that build muscle?. Doing this looks far more natural and will result in higher rankings.

    You also want to make sure that your backlinks don?t all come from the same domain name. Instead make sure you get backlinks from a number of different domains as again this looks more natural and makes your site look better as it?s not just one whole site endorsing your site it?s many.

    If you have no idea what I?m talking about well say has 200 pages and links to your site from every single page well that?s 200 backlinks to your site however the search engines will not look at each backlink as 200 strong links instead they will make them count less as they are all from the same domain which means it?s still just one person recommending your site.

    However if you have links from,, and so on then that?s a number of different individual sites recommending your site so they count far more and make your site appear far superior to the search engines.

    Another thing you will want to diversify is the IP?s that link to your site. For those of you who don?t know what an IP is well it stands for Internet Protocol Address and it?s a unique number given to each computer on the Internet. So, each website out there is stored on a computer that has it?s own IP address that you can use to access that computer and that computer only.

    Now many websites can be hosted on the same computer so many sites are hosted on one IP. Search Engines use that too their advantage and make links from websites hosted on the same IP count less then from those who are hosted on different IPs.

    This makes good sense as if you have five websites that you own that are hosted on the same computer as the site you are trying to rank high in the search engines and all five of them sites link to that site then if the search engines counted them just like they would as links from sites on different IPs then you could simply build 100?s of websites and all link to your main website and achieve high rankings, basically cheat the search engines. However by them counting links from the same IP as less than those from different IPs it makes it much harder to cheat.

    When building backlinks you also need to think about how relevant the site linking to you is. For example if you run a website about dogs and you have a link from another website about dogs well then that link is going to be worth far more then one from a website about retirement homes as it?s more relevant and looks more natural. It also reinforces the fact that your website is about dogs because if you have many website linking to you that are about dogs then your website must be about dogs right?

    You know that you need to build backlinks and you know what makes a good backlink but how do you actually build them? There are a number of different ways but the most popular ones are:

    ? Asking ? Find websites that are related to yours and contact the owner and ask them to link to your site. Make sure to ask them if they can link to you using your anchor text, most likely they will. For this to work though you need to have very good content.
    ? Article Directories ? There are a number of websites out there that allow you to submit articles and allow you to include a link to your website in the author box. This is a great way to get backlinks and if you know a lot about your site topic then you can easily write two or three articles a day or you can pay someone to write and submit them.
    ? Social Bookmarking ? Social Bookmarking sites allow you to share your favourite websites with others and are another place where you can get a nice free link. Just join up on a few of the popular ones and start bookmarking your website.
    ? Forums ? If you post at any forums that are related to your website topic then see if you are allowed to include a link to your website in your signature. This is a very easy and enjoyable way to get links, as you would post their anyway so might as well get links as well.
    ? Directories ? There are many websites out there that allow you to select a category and add your site to it for free, these are known as directories.
    ? Buy Links ? Search Engines don?t like you buying links as it?s a way of gaming their system but it is done and as long as you aren?t too obvious you can do it to.

    There are of course many other ways to build links but those are the most widely used.

    Make sure to On-Page Optimize your website and do Off-Page Optimization by building backlinks each day and very soon your website will start ranking higher and you will get more visitors.
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