As you have probably figured out already, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SERP means Search Engine Result Pages, ie. the page you see on e.g. Google with the results of what you just searched for. And SE, you guessed it, Search Engine, like Google, Yahoo, Bing and so on.
I’m going to assume that you already have a website or a blog, that you wish to optimize a bit and get some more hits from the Search Engines. Lets start with the first and most important rule.
Rule #1: Write content, and design your website, for your users! Do not try to “cloak”, cheat or anything else – the SE’s will pick it up and you might get punished. When you make a change or add content, always think “will my users benefit from this?” – if the answer is no, then don’t do it.
To-Do #1: The first thing you should do, is to make sure you only use one domain. Now you might think “I already do that: domain.com”. What if you type domain.com and www.domain.com into your browser, do you not end up at the same page? Yes you do (usually), but “domain.com” and “www.domain.com” is actually 2 different domains, in the eyes of the search engines. There’s alot of ways to do this, depending on the technology and webserver you are using. I’m not going to get into it here, but basically you have to set up a a so called “301 redirect” from e.g. domain.com to www.domain.com – or the other way around, if you prefer your site to be known without the “www” part. If you try to enter http://www.thuesen.biz in your browser, you will always end up at http://thuesen.biz, that’s just the way I decided to do it.
Links / URL’s
Rule #2: Never use too dynamic links. I mean, domain.com/index.php?page=about is okay, and domain.com/index.php?page=about&more=here should be okay too, but don’t put any more parameters in the URL than those two. Also be sure you link to the page correctly each time, in the above example you should never link to domain.com/index.php?more=here&page=about as you risk that some search engines will consider those as 2 seperate pages, but with the same content. That’s not good.
Even better, use links that looks static but is in fact dynamic. Like on this article you’re reading right now, powered by WordPress, you will see the URL looks static and you can’t really do anything wrong with it. If you try to enter this page by doing some swithing, ie. thuesen.biz/blog/beginners-guide…/2009/06/25 you are going to end up with an error, because that page does not exist. Another advantage of such static links, is that they offer the user an idea of what page they are going to end up at. An URL that says domain.com/pageid=123 doesn’t give any clue at all.
And finally, having actual keywords in the URL will also help you along, SEO-wise. So if your website/blog/whatever supports static links like that, use it!! If you happen to update your page manually with HTML files, make sure you name your HTML files accordingly, so it’s “contact.html” instead of “page42.html”.
To-Do #2: Figure out what kind of system your website or blog is based upon, and if it will allow for the use of static links, like explained above. If it does, start using it from now on. If you decide to rename all your existing files/articles, make sure you put up a page with the exact same filename, but link it to the new and improved filename using a 301 Redirect. This will tell the Search Engines that the page has moved, permanently, to a new destination.
Rule #3: Do not engage in link exchange with linkfarms. Incoming links from a link farm shouldn’t be too bad, depending on who you ask, but if you link back – which is the whole idea of a link exchange – you’re most likely going to get punished by Google. The site you consider doing link exchange with, google them first. Check their PageRank, if it’s zero, I would stay away. If they’re not even indexed in Google, stay even further away. Try to keep within sites that are relevant to yours, ie. do not have link exchange with somebody selling bacon, if your website is selling used cars. If they come with a built-in bacon maker, then it’s a whole other situation – and please contact me!!
To-Do #3: Find websites/blogs that are somewhat related to your own content. See if you can get a link in there, one way or the other. Don’t cheat. Contact the webmaster, ask if he’s interesting in a link exchange. Or if it’s a blog, post a comment and link back to your own site, write something like “You can read more about that, here: [your link & site/article title]”. Don’t lie. Remember rule #1.
Once you found a place to put your link, do it right. Don’t just write “Check out my website at domain.com”. That offers no clue to the search engines about what’s on your domain. Instead, if you’re in fact selling used cars with built-in bacon, write “Used cars with bacon” and put a link on that same text, instead of having the link in the end. Like this…
Rule #4: Do not use the same title for all your pages. If you’re still selling those bacon cars, don’t name all your pages “Used cars with bacon”, ie. the title you see in your browser, should be different for each page. The search engines loves a good title tag.
To-Do #4: Make sure the <title> tag of all your pages, are different for each page. For instance, the contact page should probably say something like <title>Contact Bacon Cars for a non-binding offer</title>, and so on. Keywords in the title tag is always very important, so consider this, when you’re updating your title tags.
Okay, that should get you started with the basics of SEO. There’s so much more to it, than I’m able to explain in a single article. And most likely, even more than I’m ever going to be able to explain, but I do my best, and I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to comment. Hopefully I will be back soon with the next part of Beginners Guide to SEO.