The 10 Commandments of Search Engine Optimization
And the geeks said, “Let there be search engines.” And there were search engines.
And the search engines had complicated formulas to determine which websites they would favor when particular key words and phrases were used.
And an entire industry, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), arose as website owners clamored to be found by users searching for information.
Many website creators were overwhelmed with confusion, not knowing how to increase their search rankings in order to drive traffic to their sites.
In their infinite wisdom and kindness, the geeks gave website users the Ten Commandments of Search Engine Optimization.
Although SEO was extremely technical, they knew that every righteous web administrator that obeyed these commandments would be blessed with search traffic. But the wicked ignore these commandments and are thrust down to the hell of anonymity, being forever lost to potential readers.
Commandment #1: Thou Shall Write Frequently.
Search engines love sites that are updated frequently, which is why well-maintained blogs fare well with searches. They know that sites that have content added to them continually have a better chance of providing relevant information to users than static sites. To search engines, static sites that are rarely updated are the valley of death.
Even if you know nothing about SEO, even if you have no money or resources to promote your website, you can have great success if you just obey the First Commandment. Write religiously. Post an article on your blog daily.
Commandment #2: Thou Shall Write Quality, Relevant Content
Simply providing valuable content will do more for your SEO efforts than any technicality. In fact, when you do so, SEO happens naturally as people spread your content and link back to you.
Commandment #3: Thou Shall Identify Key Words and Phrases
Search engines don’t exist to promote your site; they exist to provide relevant information to searchers. Therefore, you must know what your potential readers are searching for. Specifically, you must know what key words and phrases they use when they want information that your site provides.
Use a keyword-generating tool, such this one provided by Google, to identify 200-300 keywords and phrases. Start by entering 10-15 core words/phrases, then generate your list.
Commandment #4: Thou Shall Insert Your Key Words & Phrases Into Meta Data
Meta data means code that is not seen by site visitors, but is picked up by search engine robots/spiders. If you don’t know how to install meta data, you’ll need a technical programmer to help you.
Commandment #5: Thou Shall Use Your Key Words and Phrases In Your Titles & Descriptions
Titles are the first text you see for each entry when you enter a Google search. Descriptions are just below them. For example, when the search for “wordpress” brings up the following top three pages:
The Title of the first entry is “Wordpress > Blog Tool and Publishing Platform.” The Description is “A semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.”
Titles and Descriptions are critical because they carry more weight with search engines than regular text. The more relevant the keywords to their search terms, the easier it is for users to find your content.
For example, I could have titled this post “The Three Commandments of Driving Traffic,” but I knew that the phrase “Search Engine Optimization” would fare better in searches.
Commandment #6: Thou Shall Plant Your Key Words & Phrases Liberally Throughout Your Content
Be conscious and deliberate about the placement of keywords. Use them as much as possible, but without making your writing sound weird to human beings.
Commandment #7: Thou Shall Use Search Engine-Friendly URLs
Simply put, a URL is the web address assigned to each of your pages/posts. WordPress automatically generates your URLs every time you create a unique page or post by using the title of the page/post.
Long, complicated titles make for URLs unfriendly to search engines. You want them to be short and only include relevant keywords.
Commandment #8: Thou Shall Make Your Site Easy To Navigate
According to Google, “The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google’s search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.”
Don’t create deep pages that takes 3 or 4 clicks to get to. Keep the layout and navigation simple and intuitive.
You’ll also want to install a Google XML sitemap into your site.
Commandment #9: Thou Shall Secure Backlinks
Next to providing quality content frequently, securing backlinks is the most important thing you can do. Backlinks are created when other websites link back to your website. A site with tons of backlinks tells search engines that people like your content.
There are numerous ways to do this including utilizing blog directories, article directory marketing, and buying text links, among others. Ultimately, the easiest, most natural way to secure backlinks is to provide amazing content that people want to link to.
Commandment #10: Thou Shall Use Proper Anchor Text When Securing Backlinks
Anchor text refers to the words that link back to your site. For example, if I submit an article about blogging to an article directory to get backlinks, I can say “Click here to learn more.” In this case, the words “click here” are my anchor text.
While this does give me a backlink, search engines place weight on the words you use to link. If I’m trying to get a high search engine ranking on the word “blogging,” then I’ll want to use that word as anchor text. So in the example I provided above, a better way to do it would be to say, “Learn more about blogging,” with the word “blogging” as my anchor text.
And there you have it. Of course, there are way more technicalities that go into SEO than what I’ve provided here, but if you obey these ten commandments you’ll be head and shoulders above 90% of bloggers.
Avoid the hell of limited traffic and get to blogging heaven by living these commandments religiously.