My Simple SEO Steps

I’ve been working on my own Google Rankings now for quite a while.  Some of the key terms that I have been using include: Fort Wayne Web Design, Fort Wayne Website Design, and Fort Wayne SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  My results have been pretty good.

If you search for the term “Fort Wayne Web Deisgn” I appear in the top 5 on Google, and I appear number 1 on yahoo and bing!

So, I thought I would take the time and just share a few simple steps (my top ten list) that I’ve been trying to utilize for SEO:

  1. Setup Canonicalization and enforce WWW on all pages – this can sound really confusing, but basically it means making sure that regardless of whether I type in WWW.YOURSITE.COM or just YOURSITE.COM – my browser will ALWAYS end up saying the same thing – i.e. the WWW. is always added.The reason for this is simple – you don’t want Google to see two different options for your site – one with WWW and one without WWW.  You want all the Google Juice going to the same site – no matter how people link to it.
  2. Submit to the three major search engines:Google: http://www.google.com/addurl/
    Bing: http://www.bing.com/docs/submit.aspx
    Yahoo (becoming BING): http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit
  3. Submit to DMOZ – the Open Directory ProjectThe DMOZ (www.dmoz.org ) is an open-source / volunteer directory.  It has real humans who are compiling a list of web site into categories.  Visit the site – look at the categories and start to DRILL DOWN by clicking on categories until you find one you think your site should fit into.  Then, look for the SUBMIT URL link on the top of the page.  Click it and fill in the information.The approval process can often take months (or longer).
  4. Update TITLES on all pages – pretty much everyone agrees that the <title>YOUR TITLE HERE</title> tag is the most important on-page factor for determining Google ranking.  Your Title should be around 65-75 characters long and include your keywords.  Titles should also vary from page to page – to accurately reflect the content of the page – and to also continue to reflect your keywords.
  5. Update meta Keywords and meta descriptions.  Now, Google freely admits that meta keyword tag has absolutely no effect on Google ranking.  However, I still think it is important to get the meta keyword tag correct.  Of course, the same is said about meta description tag.  Generally this is used for the description that Google shows in a Search Result Page.
  6. Create relevant H1 and H2 tags – your keywords should be at the top (first 1,500 characters) of the page inside of H1 tags.  Google looks at anything inside of H1 tags as more important – after all (goes there reasoning) anything we make a header must be more important, right?
  7. Use ALT and TITLE tags on Images.  Make sure EVERY image has an appropriate ALT and TITLE tag added.  While Google can’t see what your image is – you can tell GOogle (via the ALT tag) and thereby win some valuable ranking.
  8. Ensure that your HTML and CSS both validate:CSS Validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
    HTML Validator: http://validator.w3.org/.  If you site doesn’t validate, you’ll need a little bit of technical know how to fix problems.  And, some times it really isn’t a big deal, but it is always good to keep things “valid”
  9. Create and Submit XML sitemaps to all major search engines.  Sitemaps are simple XML files that tell the search engines which pages exist and which pages should be crawled.  Creating and submitting a sitemap helps to ensure that Google, Bing, Yahoo, et al will actually find your pages.  The best way to learn about sitemaps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitemaps
  10. Create and use a Robots.txt file to help search engines index your content.  Using a robots.txt file is a bit more complicated than a sitemap.  And, typically a Robots.txt file is used to EXCLUDE areas of your site – like an admin site, etc.  But, you can do a TON with a good robots file – including blocking pages for a while and than unblocking them to gain google points.  Again, want to learn more, try Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots_exclusion_standard

So, there is my top ten list of Search Engine Optimization.  There’s a lot more to do.  And, all of these are what we like to call On Page Factors – meaning things you do to your own web page.  This didn’t even start to touch off page factors – like incoming links (another HUGELY popular topic).

Take a look at my list and let me know where I’m wrong or what I left off my list.  I’d love to hear about your top ten…

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