The Tao of Search Engine Optimization

Oct 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Recommendations

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If you own or are considering a website, you’ve probably heard the terms Search Engine Optimization or SEO about a thousand times.  The term (so long as you know what the letters stand for) is self explanatory.  Optimizing your website for search engines sounds like a good idea, as most people still find what they’re looking for using a search engine.  SEO is as much an art as it is a science, and the experts are usually not that far above the folks who do common sense things as far as results.  This makes it confusing, and more than a little intimidating to new folks in the web realm.  Before you pay the possible $50,000 to an SEO pro, let’s talk about how to make sense of it, shall we?  Here are four simple rules (or suggestions).

SEO isn't as confusing as it's made out to be

SEO isn't as confusing as you might think

Rule 1:  Search engines read text.  If your site has no text, search engines don’t know how to find you.  Examples?  OK, any site done entirely in Flash is an example of a difficult to optimise site (notice I didn’t say impossible).  Flash, while pretty and cool looking when done properly,  is practically useless when it comes to search engines.  I’m not saying not to use flash, I’m saying to use it sparingly.  More on that in another post.

There is also a segment of web artists who try to be all things to their clients, yet lack the skill set of writing CSS.  They tend to leave buttons as images and / or embed text in images.  This is fine if you do it properly but if you do it wrong, no search engine traffic.  It’s far better to use style sheets and text in every place you can.

Rule 2:  Search engines have customers too.  Odds are, you have a website as an extension of your business.  If so, you have customers (or want some).  As a business, you provide your customers what they want.  If you didn’t, they wouldn’t stay customers for long.  Search engines are the same.  Searchers come to them to find the page most relevant their search.  If engines sent searchers to pages that had nothing to do with their search, you guessed it…  The searcher wouldn’t come back to that engine.

How does this information help or hurt you?  Well, Google, for instance, puts a lot of time and energy into making sure the results to searches are accurate and relevant.  This means that they find all the ways people cheat the system and make their search engine ignore those people (or actively shun them).  That way, the searcher finds his 18th century Amish swimwear and not a site about how to make a billion dollars in ten minutes on the Internet.  Make your content match your audience (after a few weeks, this post might rank for Amish swimwear).

Rule 3:  Get your link out there.  Every blog post you read, comment on it (including this one).  Every forum you visit, leave a comment (constructive).  In the comments section of most blogs and forums, there is either a slot to type your website, or a signature block in which you can type your address.  Put your web address in your e-mail signature, on your business card, carve it into a tree…  Just get it out there.  What does this have to do with SEO?  Search engines count the number of links back to your site.  More = good, and your rank goes up the more you post.  Enough said.

Rule 4:  Don’t stress about SEO.  Take a more Taoist approach to it.  If you want more organic search traffic, write more about your topics of interest.  Nothing is more relevant to search engines than a well written article on the subject a searcher is looking for.  What this means is, if your website does not have a blog, you’re wrong.  Blogs are the best way to get free traffic, and I’d go so far as to say building your site on a blog engine is one of the smartest things you could do.  WordPress handles 90% of the SEO stuff for you, so why not take advantage?

This is a cursory overview of what I do for SEO, and I get a lot of first page Google results for very little time investment.  I do it as a part of all the sites I design, and on whatever CMS my client uses. What do you do?  I’d love to hear about it (even if you think I’m an idiot, and I’m doing it wrong).  If you have anything to add, feel free to do so in the comment block below.

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yours is the first blog on SEO I read that held my interest (nice writing job) gave me the info I was looking for, and last but certainly not least, gave me real time tips I could actually understand and feel I could implement.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aaron Nye, Jules Nye. Jules Nye said: RT @anogy 4 Simple Rules For Better, Simpler SEO | theAkkadian […]

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