The creative tutorial home of image wrangler, Lesa Snider.

Lesa's Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Tips

November 01, 2004 by
A brief set of definitions and tips for your reading and web site optimizing pleasure

Search engines, at their simplest, are big databases of web pages. The information in these databases is collected, maintained, and categorized by robots, which we'll refer to as spiders.

Search engine optimization is altering your web pages so that they communicate better with search engines, in order to increase your rankings for specific search terms or phrases. This is important not only for people to find your site, but miscommunicating with the search engines can have an adverse effect, resulting in ranking penalties, black listing, etc.

Search engine rankings refer to where your web page appears, in numeric order, on a results page returned from a search engine.

Search engine submission is the actual act of getting your web pages listed with the search engines. This does happen automatically, though it can take up to three months for your pages to get indexed. Google, in particular, isn’t especially fast.

Top 10 optimization tips

1. Brainstorm a list of keywords and keyphrases that you think people will use to find your web site. Use word combos, avoid stop words like 'and', 'the', 'to', etc. Bold them when you can (Google likes this), and use HTML header formatting whenever possible (H1, H2, H3, etc.)

  • Keyword relevancy—they must appear relevant to the actual content on your web page. Say it with me, "trickery is bad, mmmkay?"
  • Keyword density—the number of times they appear on the web page.

2. Use your target keywords/phrases in the META keyword tag. This speaks directly to the spiders, it's not for humans. Don’t use commas, try to group words together to make phrases.

3. Use keywords/phrases in the META description tag. This is what's returned on a results page. It's for humans, not spiders. Make it reader friendly and end it with an ellipses to draw visitors in.

4. Page title tag is what appears at the top of your web browser, and it's see by humans but is mainly for spiders. Put your top keyword/keyphrase up front, don't go nuts, target 1 or 2 keyphrases which best describe the content on that particular page. It doesn't have to be reader friendly... it's all about the spiders

5. Reciprocal links are links to your site from other relevant sites, and vice-versa. Hands down the best way to increase your rankings with Google. The more you have going out and coming into your site, the more relevant and important your site appears to be in the big picture.

6. Place keywords/phrases in the HTML document filenames.

7. Place keywords/phrases in directory folder names on your server. If you can put them into your domain name, even better.

8. Develop descriptive ALT tags, alternate text tags, for all graphics. This increases the usability and accessibility of your site tenfold, allowing those with screen readers (such as the visually impaired) to "hear" your site.

9. Fresh content improves the liklihood of repeat visitors to your site. Publicize it by setting up and posting an RSS feed link (really simple syndication).

10. Develop a site map, it ensures that all of your pages get crawled and it's also helpful for power surfers.