There are too many really good SEO guides written by SEO experts. However as a webmaster I found myself lost while going through many of them. So this is an attempt by a webmaster to write a SEO guide that will be better undestandable by other webmasters. (Hopefully).
What is Search Engine Optimization or SEO:
Google defines SEO as follows
Search-engine optimization means adjusting the content of your site so it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase.
Shoemoney asked the same question to some of the leading experts. You can read their definitions of SEO here.
Why is SEO important?
Traffic from Search engine is free traffic. More importantly these are the users who are actively looking for buying some product. Hence they are more likely to click on an advertisement or buy a product. So you can monetize them better. Free Traffic + Better Monetization. What more can you ask for?
I want to be successful without depending on Search Engines:
Good Luck. I am not asking you to depend entirely on search engine traffic. However according to google analytics Binaryday got 62% of its traffic last month from Search engines (58% from google alone). If you think that is because binaryday is a pathetic unpopular blog then take a look at the sources of traffic for Techcrunch. Even Techcrunch depends on Google for 40% of its Traffic.
SEO is important but how do I go about it?
A good place to start your SEO activity is to go through this list of important ranking factors. According to experts the top 10 positive ranking factors are
1. Keyword Use in Title Tag
2. Anchor Text of Inbound Link
3. Global Link Popularity of Site
4. Age of Site
5. Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
6. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site
7. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community
8. Keyword Use in Body Text
9. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site
10. Topical Relationship of Linking Page
There are some negative ranking factors as well. The top 10 negative ranking factors are
1. Server is OftenInaccessible to Bots
2. Content Very Similar or Duplicate of Existing Content in the Index
3. External Links to Low Quality/Spam Sites
5. Duplicate Title/Meta Tags on Many Pages
Keyword Use in Title Tag and Keyword Use in Body Text
Incorporate keyword phrases While making a post
Think about terms that a searcher is more likely to use to search for your post and use them in the title of your post. You can find popular keywords using the tool here. AOL had released around 20M web queries collected from ~650k users over three months. That is a great repository for finding popular keywords.
Target longer phrases if they’re relevant Feel free to use longer titles. Google now supports 70 character long titles.Use this title tag plugin to be able to customize the titles of your pages and posts easily.
Use the keyword and some variations of the same in the body of the post. Include the important keywords inside h1 tag once, strong/bold tag once or twice and once or twice inside the post body. However take care not to overdo it else google may think that you are trying to spam.
It is a good idea to use a good quality image describing your post wherever possible. My own experience says it is comparatively easier to get some decent traffic from google image search. Make sure to keep the image on your own website and use relevant alt and title tags.
You can check how well your existing page is targeting a particular keyword using the Term Target Tool.
Write an Attractive Meta Description
I know I know, most modern search engines have stopped using meta description as a factor for ranking search results. Then what is it doing here? Well meta description will NOT help you improve your ranking in the SERP. However given a search ranking directly, it will help you improve your click through rate. Higher click through rate means higher traffic.
This is because google uses the meta description to create the search excerpt. See the example below. The underlined text is coming from the meta description of Mywalkin
Golden rule for writing a rocking meta description tag. Think like you are creating a 2 line advertisement for the post. Write complete sentences and try to limit your meta description tag to less than 150 characters.
Here is a wordpress plugin for you to add custom meta description tags to your posts.