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SEO Primer – 7 Basics of SEO
By George Peirson (c) 2009
We are going to look at 7 Basics of SEO below. These aren’t the
only things you want to know about SEO, but are the areas you
should learn first. Some topics will only take you a minute,
some will take a little longer, and others will become an
ongoing process. But after reading through this list you should
have a good handle on where to start and where to proceed next.
SEO Basic 1: Let’s start off with a definition. SEO stands for
“Search Engine Optimization” and is the process by which you
Optimize your web site so that it is positioned well in the
search engines. This is not the same thing as designing a site
so that it attracts customers and entices them to buy.
SEO is what you do specifically on your site to improve your
Search Engine Position. If you do a search on Google for any
search term you will be presented with a list of links. At the
top of the page and along the right side will be PPC links where
someone pays an amount per click to get positioned. With PPC the
more you pay the better your position. Most people only glance
at these listings. You don’t need SEO to get one of these
positions, just lots of money.
The body of the page contains “organic” listings. These links are
listed in the order that Google determined best fit your search,
with the best match first. There are only 10 listings per page,
most people will only look at the 1st page, maybe the 2nd. So
your site needs to be listed within the top 10 and at the worst
within the top 20 for any useful exposure. With SEO you will be
adjusting your site code so that your site will rank highly.
This can be a daunting process as there may be thousands of
sites competing for the same top listing. A trick is to aim your
pages at less popular search terms to get higher placement. It
is better to be on page one for a term that gets 1,000 searches
per month than to be on page three for a search term that gets
millions of visits.
SEO Basic 2: Your web site must be search engine friendly. The
search engines send out “spiders” or “bots” cataloging web pages
they come across. If the search engine has trouble getting
through to your pages it will either rank your page poorly, or
skip your site all together. Making your site Search Engine
Friendly means having the code easily accessible, no errors in
the code, and guiding the search engine through your site.
Try to steer away from complicated coding when possible. Check
your site for coding errors. This is fairly easy to do with web
programs like Dreamweaver which do this for you automatically.
Plan on having text based navigation on every page. This is
usually placed at the bottom of the pages. You may also want to
have a “Site Map” page with easy to follow text based links to
all of your important pages. Search Engines will look for a Site
Map and will use that to navigate a site if available.
SEO Basic 3: The Most Important SEO Aspect is Keywords. Keywords
are the terms you type into a search engine to find interesting
web sites. You need to know what search terms people are likely
to use to find your site, then use those terms as your Keywords.
Make a list of the keyword combinations you can think of that
you would use to find your site. Try them all on a search engine
and see the results.
You need to see how these search terms perform on the web and
what other search terms could be used. A great free tool to help
with this research is available at Google:
You type in a search term, then you are given a list of similar
search terms, how often they were searched and some advertiser
comparison figures. You can quickly find additional keywords and
to see how well they perform. A good idea is to optimize your
site for a less frequently used keyword combinations so that you
can achieve a higher placement. The Google Keyword Tool will
help you figure this out.
Focus on keyword groups with 3 or 4 keywords. Many times
keywords will overlap, so you can focus on a longer keyword
combination and cover many other combinations at the same time.
For instance, if you are designing a page to sell Photoshop
Training, you can optimize for this keyword phrase “Adobe
Photoshop Training Video”. This will not only give you optimized
performance for this keyword combination but also for these
other keywords and combinations as well:
Adobe Photoshop Training
Photoshop Training Video
So try to come up with a multiple keyword combination that will
contain several other keyword combinations as well.
Once you know what keywords you want to use you are ready to
place those keywords on your page. The main places you want to
use the keywords are:
In the meta title of the page
In the meta description of the page
In the first sentence on the page
In all of the image alt tags
In links to and from the page
Well represented in the body text of the page
Make sure you Pick the right keywords, and make sure they cover
more than 5% of the word usage on the page. An easy way to get
more keywords onto a page is by using lists such as:
Adobe Photoshop Training Video Sets for Educators
Adobe Photoshop Training Video Sets for Students
Adobe Photoshop Training Video Sets for Business
Keep in mind that your page text should still be user friendly.
If you use your keywords too frequently or in strange ways on
your page, it may rank better in the search engines, but it will
drive away visitors. Who wants to read a poorly written page?
SEO Basic 4: Don’t try anything funny. There are lots of
“tricky” things you can do to cram more keywords into a page
without annoying your visitors. The problem is that the search
engines know about these tricks and will penalize your site if
you use them. So don’t do any of the following or you may find
your web site disappear completely from the search engine
White letters on white background, or any other similar text
coloring trick. Even using a very light gray text on a white
background, or very dark gray text on a black background can get
you bumped from the search engines.
Don’t repeat your keyword over and over again. People used to
do things like this at the top or bottom of their pages:
Photoshop Photoshop Photoshop. This worked in the early days of
search engine optimization, but no longer. You should also not
try this trick in alt tags, image names, links or other places
in your code. The search engines will spot this and you will be
Don’t put keywords into comment tags. Also don’t put keywords
in hidden form fields. The search engines will spot these and
mark you down accordingly.
Even though putting keywords into image names and alt tags is a
great idea, don’t think that you can just create a bunch of
clear gif images sized at 1×1 and fill those with keywords. The
search engines are very good at spotting tricks like this as
So use your keywords appropriately, don’t try to sneak one past
the search engines and you should do just fine. Just keep in
mind, if you think that you need to hide the keywords to trick
the search engine you can rest assured that they have already
thought of that and will do their best to devalue your site
accordingly if you use these “black hat” tricks.
SEO Basic 5: All pages should have links to other pages. The
main search engines like links. They like outside sites linking
into yours, but they also like links within your site going to
other pages. So in this case having more pages can be useful.
Also since you now have all these pages that you are linking to
it gives you a great place to use some more keywords. Make sure
that your links include your keywords.
But, and this could have been in section 4 above, don’t create
“doorway pages” that redirect you to another page. It used to be
common SEO practice to create lots of doorway pages, each one
stuffed with specific keywords, all of which would redirect the
visitor to the actual page they were looking for. This would
give your site lots of pages, with lots of internal links and
would allow you to tightly optimize these doorway pages for
specific keywords, but the search engines have gotten wise to
this trick and now penalize the use of redirect pages. So don’t
use redirects unless you absolutely need to and never use
SEO Basic 6: Only optimize a page for one or two keyword groups.
More than that just dilutes your keyword ratio. The search
engines will analyze your web page to determine which words are
used as keywords. They do this by looking at the title, the
description, the page heading and the words used on the page.
They then determine how relevant your keywords are to your page.
So, if you try to use too many different keywords on a page, it
will only bring down the percentage of any individual keyword or
group for that page. It is better to optimize for a larger
keyword group as discussed above than to try to optimize a page
for a lot of individual keywords that can’t be easily used in
one sentence. If you need to have a page optimized for several
different, unrelated keywords you are better off creating
several different pages and re-writing the body text on each
page to match the keywords you are optimizing for. This will
make each page relevant for the specific keyword and will get a
better placement in the search engines.
SEO Basic 7: Be patient. Even with a perfectly optimized web
site it can take several months for it to rise in the search
engine standings. I usually recommend waiting at least 90 days
and up to 6 months to see how well a web page is doing in the
search engines. Also, even though you have gone to great lengths
to target a specific keyword or keyword combination keep in mind
that the search engines aren’t required to agree with you. So
when checking your standings look at several different search
terms that you discovered in your research and see how well your
page is placing. Hopefully you will find that your chosen
keywords are getting your page listed the way you want, showing
that your SEO has worked properly.
If you find that your page is ranking better for a different
keyword, you should examine your page code to see why and make
adjustments as needed. Maybe your page is placing higher for a
keyword combination you weren’t focusing on, but it is still a
good combination for your goals. This gives you an ideal
opportunity to go with that new combination to achieve even
So, get started right now on your SEO. The longer you wait, the
longer it will be before your web site is showing well up in the
There is a lot more to SEO than just these 7 quick points, but
this will get you started on the right path. Go through these
steps and your web pages will be well positioned for any other
SEO you may want to perform on your site in the future.
George Peirson is a successful Entrepreneur and Internet Trainer.
He is the author of over 40 multimedia based tutorial training
titles and several design articles. To get his Free e-Book “Web
Design Tips” visit http://www.howtogurus.com
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