Introduction To Search Engine Optimization

2011-04-28

This article will cover some tips on how to optimize your website for search engines. This is known as search engine optimization or SEO. The goal is to make your website easier to find in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc.

URL

Make your URL easier and readable. You should try to avoid complex and dynamic addresses and instead use static or rewritten URLs. Apache can use the module mod_rewrite to translate URLs like http://hanswestman.se/index.php?show=posts&page=2 into http://hanswestman.se/page/2/. Most web hosting companies seem to have mod_rewrite implemented. The URL is the first thing that a search engine sees, and it also becomes easier for the user if you use a simple URL.

Title

The title of your website is what visitors first see when they find your site in search engines. It is the most prominent piece of information they get about your site. As the title plays a major role,it should include relevant information about your website and the page you’re viewing. Do not try to stuff it full of keywords, but keep it as short as possible but still with good information. W3C recommends using titles that are less than 64 characters long, and search engines like Google seems to be using the first 68 characters of the title, so keep them short and relevant.

Content

You should also have good, relevant content on your website. Search engines checks probably just the first part of the content, but it can play a major role in determining how relevant your content appears. I have read somewhere that it usually is the first 500 words that are analyzed, so try to use good keywords in the beginning of your content. It can play a major role in determining how relevant your website appears. You should not try to hide a bunch of keywords at the beginning of your page by making them invisible. The idea is the search engine should see them, but not the reader. This is identified as “search spam” by the major search engines and will probably influence your search results negatively.

Description and keywords

You can use meta tags to describe your site and make it seem more relevant for searches. Each field should not be too long, a maximum of 255 characters is preferred. I have read that today’s search engines do not even read these field because people fill them with rubbish to get more hits. But keep them relevant to your content and do not include keywords like “Angelina Jolie topless” just to try to get more hits.

Links

It is the links on your website that a search engine uses to find its way around in your content. Links that contains only text are preferable because they give the best results. To the extent possible, avoid image links, and above all, flash objects. In order for a search engine to find all the content on your site, it is a good idea to create a sitemap. A sitemap is a list of links to all the pages on your site. Try to include a link to your sitemap on every page you have. The search engines will index every link in the sitemap.

This concludes my brief introduction to search engine optimization. I can write a continuation to this article, if there are requests.