1. Produce excellent copy Your content should be written extremely well; great copy writing is the heart and soul of SEO
. Firstly, excellent writing is better for your users and is more likely to attract inbound links. Secondly, Google has ways, some of them very subtle, of determining just how good and useful a piece of writing is (see latent semantic indexing
). Write with your users in mind, with a view to giving them the best and most useful experience possible. With regard to Google's subtle ways of assessing the quality of a piece of writing, you should avoid using the same keywords again and again, even if it feels natural to do so. Instead, you should use of a variety of synonyms for every keyword. This makes your writing more readable and interesting, and also persuades Google that your content is not run-of-the-mill spam, but authoritative and useful.
2. Content is king The only thing Google respects is high-quality text with some links pointing to it. Google considers web sites that constantly add content much more useful than web sites that add content infrequently. For this reason you should set yourself a realistic target for the production of new content and stick to it. Depending on how ambitious you are, you can aim for one new page of content per day or per week. Whatever you choose, remember that Google likes fresh content. It has an intrinsic preference for web sites that focus on creating new content over web sites that keep tweaking their existing content again and again. In other words, Google wants to see that you are working on producing new content, not on optimizing content that you already have on your web site. The ideal word count for each page is between 500 and 1500 words.
3. Use the Google sandbox The Google sandbox
is an incredibly useful tool that suggests keywords and key phrases on the basis of what people have been searching recently. For example, you might type "SEO consultant" and the Google sandbox will tell you that, in addition to searching for "SEO consultant," other frequent searches are "SEO expert" and "SEO services." Using the Google sandbox will give you an inexhaustible supply of ideas for the creation of fresh content. Put simply, you use Google's sandbox to find out what people are searching for, and you then write content that targets those keywords. The aim is, of course, to rank highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those queries.
4. Use the h1 tag The h1 tag is one of the great secrets of SEO. The h1 tag tells search engines that this is the main title of the page ("heading #1"). The h1 tag is an incredibly powerful tool and Google takes it seriously, providing it is substantiated by the page's content. In other words, the words in the h1 title tag should also appear in the main text. Using the h1 tag is an excellent way to optimize a page for specific keywords.
Here is how you use the h1 tag: Your keywords
The h1 tag will make the text quite large; you can have the benefit of the h1 tag without such enormous text by using CSS to format it as desired.
You should also use the h2 and h3 tags for your sub-headings, making the content of your page hierarchical.
5. Keyword density The keywords you are targeting should appear in the main body of your text reasonably frequently, but don't overdo it: a page that is stuffed with keywords destroys the credibility of your web site and is easily identified by Google as spam. Putting your keywords at the beginning of the page, in most of the paragraphs, and somewhere near the end will be quite sufficient. Do not forget the importance of using synonyms too, as mentioned above. If you want to check the keyword density for a page, you can use this keyword density tool.
6. Use bold, italics and underlining on keywords When you bold, italicize or underline a word, Google assumes that this is one of your keywords. You should therefore bold, italicize or underline some of the keywords on your page.
Be very careful, because this can also work against you: if you use bold, italics or underlining on words that are not keywords, you will confuse Google and will weaken the effect of these tags on your real keywords.
7. Keywords in the URL Deciding the URL of a page is an important part of SEO. The page should have a file name that contains your keywords, and the page should be in a directory that also has keywords in its name. For both the directory and the page itself, the keywords should be separated by dashes.
You should follow a sensible rationale when deciding what to call directories and files; it should reflect the hierarchical nature of your web site. For example, if you are writing a page about obtaining inbound links, a good URL for it would be:
This is a good URL for these reasons:
a) "SEO tips" and "how to obtain inbound links" are related queries and Google knows it;
b) "how to obtain inbound links" is a subset of "SEO tips." Google will give you extra respect for using hierarchical URLs. Don't forget that Google was developed by two clever mathematicians!
Depending on exactly what pages you plan to create for your web site, there are several ways of naming a URL. For example, with regard to the example above, if you're going to write many different articles on the topic of "links," you could name your URLs as follows:
and so on. (In this example "how to obtain inbound links" is a sub-category of "links," and "links" is in turn a sub-category of "SEO." Furthermore, all three sets are related to each other: they are all about SEO.)
8. Use a high content-to-code ratio Search engines will give your page a higher ranking if it has a lot of text relative to the amount of code. You should aim for a high signal-to-noise ratio on your page, which means that there should be more content than code. Open any page on the Internet, right click on it and select "view source" (or its equivalent). If there is a lot more code than text, search engines are not going to love it.
If you are serious about SEO you will produce pages with good, clean HTML and will avoid anything that requires a lot of code. A small amount of HTML code and a lot of quality text is what search engines (and users) really love.
9. Split substantial articles into several pages If you write an article about a big topic, it is inevitable that the article will in fact deal with a number of sub-topics. In these cases you should split the article into several pages: one page for each subtopic. This has the following advantages:
a) you will be able to have highly focused search-engine optimization that targets each specific page, instead of trying to optimize one enormous page for keywords that are relevant to only 10% of it. Remember that Google decides what content is about on a page-by-page basis: this means that every page should focus on one topic - only one;
b) users prefer to read articles that are split over several pages rather than articles that have the "toilet roll" format. The links that take you from one page to the next should have the target page's title as the anchor text (more about this later).
The page you are reading is an exception; pages with a list of tips generally work better as a single page, even if very long.
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