What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps increase traffic to a site by increasing the site’s “rankings” in search engines. A site’s rank is where it displays in the search results (especially on Google) when a potential reader conducts a topic search. The goal of most site owners is to have their site appear on the first page, preferably near or at the top.
Why is this important?
People rarely search for a site by its exact name. They use “key words” or phrases in their search. For example, I doubt anyone will type “On Blogging Well” into Google. But they will likely type a phrase about blogging, such as “How to increase traffic to my blog” or “How to start a blog.”
How does it work?
It’s magic! Well, almost. Search engines use an algorithm, also called “spider,” that “crawls the web,” searching for sites. When a new site or post is discovered, it’s indexed, and, when someone conducts a search, the search engine pulls the most relevant page from its file of indexed sites. There are literally millions of websites and billions of key words and phrases, yet these search engines pull up the information within seconds.
How do I know if my site has been indexed?
Go to Google.com and type in “site: yoursitename” (substitute your site’s name). You’ll get a list of locations where your site shows up on the web.
How can I optimize my site for search engines?
There are a number of aspects to SEO. It’s more than just adding a bunch of “meta tags” to your site, and we’ll discuss more about SEO each week on SEO Saturday. If you’re using WordPress, the easiest way to get started is to go to the Plugins menu of your dashboard, select “Add New,” and then search for the All in One SEO Pack plugin. Install and activate it.
Once this plugin is activated, you can go to the Settings area and click on All in One SEO. You can now add information into the fields that tell your Home Page Title, Home Page Description (this will display in search engine results), and Key Words that describe your site.
You’ll also notice that now, when you go to the Add New Post screen, you will see a new box in the lower part of the center column called “All in One SEO Pack.” Here you can change the post title, add a description, and list your key words and phrases.
We’ll discuss more about titles and descriptions in future posts, but here’s a tip to get you started: When you’re listing your post’s keywords (or those on your home page), try to think what you’d type into Google if you were searching for the information your post will provide.
For example, most searchers won’t type the phrase “An Introduction to SEO” into Google. They’ll more likely put something like, “How to do SEO” or “What is SEO?” So, I’ve included those search phrases in my keyword list. (Oh, and make sure you separate your keywords/phrases with commas.)
I’m not an SEO expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know a little about it, so if you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please use the forums or the comments section and I’ll do my best to help out.
Until next time, happy blogging!