Search Engine Optimization – What’s SEO?
The key to being able to make money online is getting visitors to your Website. While you can always pay for traffic, getting visitors from the search engines, known as organic traffic is the most cost-effective way of drawing people to your Website. In order for people to find your site through Google, Bing, or other search tools, those sites need to determine what your site is about. That’s how they determine their rankings. One way you can help with that process is to engage in what is known as search engine optimization, or SEO, for short. Search engine optimization is the process of tweaking each individual page and post of your Website in such a way that Google and Bing will know exactly what each page or post is about.
The process of search engine optimization is complex, and entire books have been written about the topic. There are companies that specialize in doing search engine optimization work for hire, and there are expensive tools and WordPress plugins that can help you tweak your site, such as Easy WP SEO. You’re free to hire someone to help you with search engine optimization if you like, and you can certainly buy a plugin if you want (I use Easy WP SEO myself) but in truth, there are some basic things you can do on each site or post in order for the search engines to know what your post or page is about. If you get in the habit of doing these things as you create your content, your page will likely be pretty well configured for search engine optimization without the need for expensive tools.
Search Engine Optimization Overview
The idea of search engine optimization is to emphasize, on a page by page or post by post basis, the keyword or phrase that the particular page or post is about. By emphasizing the keyword or phrase and using it frequently enough, Google and Bing will be able to tell what your page is about. You don’t want to overdo search engine optimization, but there are widely accepted practices that seem to work for most applications. In years past, Website owners would often mention a keyword hundreds or even thousands of times on a page, but hide it by making the text the same color as the background of the page. Search engines have long been aware of this tactic, which is known as keyword spamming. You want to use your word liberally throughout your page, but don’t overdo it. I’ll elaborate more in a minute.
The first step in search engine optimization is to make sure that you use your keyword first in the page title and your WordPress permalink. You also want to use it first in your page description and in your list of tags for your post. Having your keyword listed first in your page title helps make it clear that your page is about that keyword. Headings You will want to mention your keyword three times in large headings, using H1, H2 and H3 tags once each. You’ll notice I’ve done that with this post, in the headline, the overview, and the summary headings. This search engine optimization step again reinforces the notion that the page is about the particular keyword or phrase.
This is a hot topic in search engine optimization circles, as no one quite knows exactly what qualifies as mentioning a keyword enough vs mentioning it too often. In general, you want your keyword density to be somewhere between 2% and 5%. That means if you’re writing a 1000 word post, you want to use the term between 20 and 50 times, in total, on the page. I tend to keep it to the lower end of that; anything in the 2% to 3% range is fine. No one knows exactly how much is too much, but I prefer to err on the side of caution. How do you determine the percentage? It’s not hard; if you’re using WordPress, you should see a word count at the bottom of your text editor. Then you just need to count the number of times that your term appears on the page. For ideal search engine optimization, just make sure the term appears 2-3 times per 100 words.
Additional Keyword Emphasis
Besides mentioning the keyword a number of times in your text, good search engine optimization includes making sure that your keyword appears on the page at least once in bold text, once in italicized text and once in underlined text. One instance of each type is fine, though it likely won’t hurt you in any way if you do it twice. I wouldn’t do it more than that, as it is possible to do too much search engine optimization.
Including your keyword or phrase in links also helps reinforce that your page or post is about that particular term and is a vital part of search engine optimization. You should try to use the keyword once in a link to a page on some other Website and once in a link to another page in your own site. Once is enough; while you want to have proper search engine optimization, you don’t want to give your visitors too many options about leaving your site. After all, you’re trying to get them to buy something. Some people try to hide the links by changing the color of the link text, but the search engines frown on that practice.
Good search engine optimization will also include a mention in images on the page. You should try, if possible, to include images of some kind on your page, just to break up the monotony of text. If doing product reviews, try to show the product. Otherwise, you can use images that are related to the topic at hand. There are a number of places on the Web where you can get affordable images. One site that I particularly like is Pixabay, which offers a number of stock images and graphics for free. Once you upload the images to your page, be sure to include your keyword in the ALT text for at least one image.
Search Engine Optimization Summary
As I mentioned earlier, entire books have been written about search engine optimization and it’s quite a complex topic. Some people are obsessed with search engine optimization and others just ignore it. I think that’s a bad idea, but so is obsession. You can overdo it, and the search engines can see that. If you hit the main points in the list above, your search engine optimization should be more than adequate to convey the idea of what your page is about to Google and Bing. Then they can include your page in their list of other pages about that particular keyword, which will help people find your site. You can also learn a lot more about using search engine optimization with an affiliate marketing training program like Wealthy Affiliate, which will go over the topic in more detail. You can even join Wealthy Affiliate for free.