09 March 2011

SEO basics

Only 10 percent people go to page two of a search engine,Moreover, it is estimated that while 43 percent click on the top three links, only 16 percent go further, making it imperative for a company to get in the top three on page one. That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes to play.

SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines. With Google commanding nearly 2/3 of all Internet searches – SEO trends are determined mostly by what works or not for Google. Search engine optimization is useless if you don't know what you're trying to optimize: in this article we share with you the do’s and don’ts of SEO.

1. Choose the right keywords
Keywords are critical in turning searches into leads; therefore it’s crucial to accurately select them. Many companies futilely endeavor to get a top placement by using broad keywords. Not only does this fail in generating traffic given that users rarely search for broad terms but it also lowers SERP (Search Engine Result Page) ranking. Google calculates the number of times users didn’t choose a listing and the number of times they returned to the search results to choose a different website.

Various keyword-research tools help in the selecting the best terms for SEO. The free Google AdWords Keyword Tool and SEO Book Keyword Suggestion help you gauge how frequently keywords are searched and how competitive a keyword is. Besides employing organic or free techniques, many companies invest resources to find the best keywords. Sponsored Ads and paying for high end design and usability are common SEO practices.

2. Original website content
Distribution of keywords on a page is as important as their selection. When the entire context of a page is about a particular subject, chances at getting noticed by search engines increases. Therefore, optimizing each page for a particular keyword (and its synonyms) increases the relevance of a page.
Another SEO tip is using keywords in the page's HTML title tag. Search engines emphasize on title tags when determining a page's relevancy to a query. Ideally, the title tag and the Meta description should be 65 and 250 characters respectively, including spaces and punctuation.

A well-written, unique and correctly spelled content matters most in SEO. Although Google auto-corrects search words, typos can translate into huge losses in ecommerce sites like eBay where no one bids for ‘Tiffanny’ bracelets. According to Tanuj Nigam, Co-Founder and Director of Bindaas Bargain.com, India’s first daily deal e-shop, “Keywords need to be free of spelling errors, except in cases where the incorrect form of a words is more popular than its standard version.

For example, Genealogy, Tattoo and Britney Spears are largely misspelled as Geneology, Tatoo and Britany Spears. In such cases, it’s wiser to include both the spellings as keywords.

3. Search engine friendly website with linkable content
An easily navigable website allows Google to index all its pages thereby improving its search results. Implementing a valid HTML code and a sitemap using static text links (hyperlinks) facilitate crawling. So does minimizing the file size of all attachments, pictures, and videos.

Another aspect of SEO is linkable content. These include external (within different websites) and internal (from one page to another within a website) links. Both are highly valued by Google and improve a site’s search result ranking. Internal links have anchor text which should accurately reflect the content of the target page. Instead of words like ‘Hint’ or ‘Click Here’; two to three keywords should be used as link text.
Don’ts: Apart from the must-do’s, a lot in SEO is dependent upon what not to do. With BMW Germany being spammed by Google for implementing Black Hat techniques, SEO experts are increasingly conscious of avoiding any SEO trick that Google considers unethical or illegal.

• Stuffing Keywords: An effective usage of keywords enable search engines to discover your site but an overuse can cause them to ignore you.
• Unnatural Link Building: - Link Farms
One of the Black Hat techniques is when websites try to get a large number of back links using various spam techniques. Once caught, Google blacklists such sites, banning them from its search results.
• Plagiarism: Duplicate content is a huge challenge for SEO. Often search engines fail to discriminate between original and copied versions. This causes problems with Supplemental Results in Google.
• Avoid Frames: These cause website accessibility and usability problems and make a site uncrawlable.
As countless websites inundate the internet, SEO helps companies connect with their target audience. As search engine algorithms become more complex, the race for top ranks is heating up. Those who stay committed to the process are the ones who will stay ahead in the quest to be number one.