Some brief notes on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Marketing Optimization (SMO)

What is SEO?
SEO is a collection of strategies that one can use to elevate the listing of one’s web site in common web search tools: Bing, Yahoo, and Google being the principal three search tools used today.

Why is SEO important?
When a web user types keywords (or key phrases) into Bing, Yahoo, or Google, you want your web site to appear topmost in a list of the search results. If your web site is focused on information about education policy, then you want your web site to appear at or near the top of search results when a web user searches on keywords “education policy”. SEO is a collection of strategies that boost one’s search result rank.

An effective SEO strategy should include ongoing evaluation of keywords and key phrases, and ongoing careful review of web access statistics generated by Google Analytics.

First steps

I make sure that your web site is properly validated with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. I also make sure that your web site has proper, updated sitemap.xml and robots.txt files placed in web root.

This means that Google and Bing know how to find and index your web site.

What are useful SEO strategies?

In summary, basic SEO strategies are:

  • use keywords and key phrases in the title of your web site (the title is the information that appears in the topmost bar of the web browser, when you view a web page)
  • increase the number and quality of inbound links to your web site
  • use keywords and key phrases in the content text and page headers
  • avoid duplicate text in page titles, page headers, and content text
  • test, over time, the effectiveness of keywords and key phrases
  • develop interesting, well-written, current content that people come back to read — this is a very important point, a point at which clients sometimes balk — however, the quality of your content must be the basis of your SEO strategy; you must have content that people want to read, and link to

In more detail, ten SEO strategies:

The web site seomoz.org has developed a useful review of modern SEO strategies. I recommend this site to anyone who is interested in SEO. The following information comes from seomoz.org. While I have reworded these strategies to accommodate readers of this web page, full credit belongs to seomoz.org.

According to a group of thirty-seven SEO experts, these are the ten most relevant factors in SEO, collated by seomoz.org:

  1. Keyword Use in Title Tag
    The TITLE tag of your web site is the linchpin of your SEO strategy. The title tag is simple but vital. Make sure that you use important keywords in the TITLE tag of your web site. If you are using dynamic title tag information called from a database, make sure to populate the title tag data with appropriate keywords. The selection and order of these title tags are crucial.
  2. Anchor Text of Inbound Link
    Ideally, web sites that link to your web site should use the correct title of your organization. It is difficult to control this factor. You can contact other web sites and ask politely if they will link to your web site using the correct language. You can also set up a “How to link to our web site” web page that advises other web sites of the correct language or title to use if they create a link to your web site. Finally, an inbound link from a “quality” web site will count more toward a search ranking than a link from a lesser web site. It is up to a search engine to determine the web sites that are “quality” sites. The best definition of a quality web site is a site that is well established in its topic area.
  3. Global Link Popularity of Site
    How many other web sites link to your web site? Are they “quality” web sites? A marketing effort to get other web sites to link to yours can increase your web search rank.
  4. Age of Site
    When was your web site established? Older web sites tend to receive better treatment in search results. Age of site is measured from the commencement of one’s current hosting plan on an ISP’s web server.
  5. Link Popularity within the Site
    The number of pages within your own web site that link to a given page will influence the search rank of that given page.
  6. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site
    This factor is a measure of linking relevance. Is the content of other web sites, who link to your site, relevant to your site’s content? Again, this factor is difficult to control. A smart marketing campaign can improve the relevance of inbound links to your site. It is useful to collaborate with organizations that are similar to yours to create links to each other’s web sites.
  7. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community
    This factor is a measure of linking relevance. This factor measures the number of inbound links to your web site from web sites whose topic is similar to yours. Do many of your collaborators link to your web site? Again, it is useful to collaborate with organizations that are similar to yours to create links to each other’s web sites.
  8. Keyword Use in Body Text
    Use keywords liberally throughout the text of your web site.
  9. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site
    This factor measures the overall number of inbound links to your web site.
  10. Topical Relationship of Linking Page
    This factor measures the number of inbound links to a specific page on your web site from specific pages on other web sites whose topic is similar to yours. It is another measure of linking relevance.

I can work with you to implement these SEO strategies for your web site. But, the burden is on you to provide the web user with interesting, new, high-quality content. If your content is very good, then more people will link to your web site or refer to you in their blogs, which will increase your rank in search results.

Social Marketing Optimization (SMO)

You should also consider a plan of Social Marketing Optimization (SMO), which means, open accounts for your organization on Facebook and Twitter. Maintain these pages and put your best content on them. Gradually build up fans and followers. Link to your web site from your Facebook page, and vice-versa. Keep your posts on Twitter topical to your field, and current, and refer readers to your web site for information beyond Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Resources

Bing Webmaster Tools

Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google: How Search Works

Google Webmaster Academy