Sunday, January 6, 2008

10 Basic SEO Techniques Every Webmaster Should Know

10 Basic SEO Techniques Every Webmaster Should Know

Now, it’s easier than ever to have websites up and running. You can just setup a blog at for free. Or you can spend some $20 to buy a domain name, get a cheap web hosting and install free ready-made scripts like Wordpress, phpbb, oscommerce, joomla, etc. Some web hosting sites even made the script installations as easy as one-click-install.

Many aspiring webmasters create new sites without even knowing HTML, let alone search engine techniques. They get AdSense account and paste on AdSense code, waiting with high hope for the quick money to pour in. But day by day, the earning is really just enough to cover the hosting fee, or even less than that. So, they start to get frustated.

Most quit after some time. Some worse, they “fall into the dark side”, employing black hat techniques or hiring less-than-honorable search engine optimizer firms.

The rest stay on, determined to learn, and improve. Soon, they found out something about called search engine optimisation.

Here I will try to describe some basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in a simple, easy-to-understand way.

Optimizing a website for search engine means you design a website so that search engines (like Google, Yahoo, MSN) can easily find the pages and include them in the search result. Thus, it will increase the number of visitors coming to your site. Objective of search engine optimization is to have your pages displayed highest possible in the search engine result for your choice of search phrases.

These are 10 basic search engine optimization methods I think every webmaster ought to know. See if the tools you use to create your webpages (Dreamweaver, Frontpage, etc…) allow you to do these. If not, it is time to learn some basic HTML.

1) Page title

Title is important. Place important keywords on your page title, and try to have different one for each page. I’ve seen sites with same title for every pages. While it gives stronger branding for the site name, that’s something I can do without rather than sacrificing my sub-pages traffic.

Limit your page title to 80 characters the most. Shorter page title means higher importance on each word.

CheatAd ! - Click-frauds on Google AdSense and 2) Keyword and description meta-tags

These two popular meta-tags used to be most useful search engine optimization techniques, until they are abused by the search engine spammers. Even then, they are still holding some importance today, specially the description meta-tags.

Meta description tag is used by some search engine in displaying the result page, and by other search engines to determine the relevance of your page.

Limit your page description to 200 characters the most. Put a descriptive, gramatically correct, meaningful sentence for best result.

This is the page tiSome proclaim that keyword tag is dead. Apparently not so. Yahoo webmaster guidelines lists using keyword tag as a way to help improving search engine ranking.

Use a “keyword” meta-tag to list key words for the document. Use a distinct list of keywords that relate to the specific page on your site instead of using one broad set of keywords for every page.

Even then, if you have to make a choice between creating good keyword tag and developing useful content - our next point - , go with the latter. Limit the keyword to 300 characters.

This is the page t3) Body text

Next to a good title, this is the next most important on-page optimization you can do to bring more visitors to your website.

Most important thing you must remember here is this: you should write for your users first, search engine second. Write in natural, easy to understand language. The reason here is that if you write just for search engine, even if you can rank high up, the visitors will close your page as soon as they find out that your site contain just junks.

Besides, search engines now increasingly use some kind of artificial intelligence to analyze websites before indexing. You don’t want to caught off-handed using some useless texts.

First write some useful contents just as you would write offline magazine articles. Then, only after that, you can do some small tweaking to empasize certain parts, and make some changes to the word choices.

Generally, it is thought that keyword density plays some importance to seach engines. Keyword density refers to number of appearance of your keywords relative to overall page. No agreement on the optimum number though. Some believes the keywords should be around 3% compared to the overall page. Some believes the number should be higher, aroung 8-10%. Whatever it is, just try to include some of these keywords on your page, and make sure the page is still read well naturally. If it is not, take them out.

Then there are HTML tags you can use to emphasize importance of certain words. The most commons are bold, italics, and headers.

header 1

header 2

header 3

bold or strong
italics or emphasis

And, of course, you should use text instead of graphics or flash. Search engines can’t read what is written on your beautifully crafted picture. If you want them be indexed and found by search engines, use text.

If you must use some images, use your keywords on the file name, and always use the ALT tag.


Major search engines have developed some ability to read text in flash files, but to play it safe, avoid flash banners, buttons or page contents. Flash is great for embedded movies, not for any other use.

4) Regular content

SEO or not, this is important. Regularly updated content will draw visitors and search engine alike. But don’t put content just for the sake of it. Contents copied from other site, for instance, not only doesn’t help in search engine ranking, but can even get you penalized.

Write original, useful contents that make your visitors want to come back and recommend to their friends. You will get repeat visitors that way, regardless of search engine traffic. Good contents will also get link from other webmasters, and this will greatly help in your search engine ranking (read next point).

Blogs are very easy to set-up and is a good avenue to create new contents to your site. Major blogging software, like Wordpress, supports RSS by default. By using RSS reader software, your visitors can then choose to be to be notified about new contents on your site.

Creating contents regularly rather than pump in many articles at one go has many benefits. Firstly, your visitors know that everytime they go to your site, they will see new content instead of the same old ones. This will make them want to visit more often. Same thing to search engine crawlers. If everytime the crawler couldn’t find new content, it provides little incentive for them to come back regularly. Thus, your new pages will not get indexed as fast as you want it to be.

Additionally, if you pump in a lot of contents at once, the search engines may think that you are trying to spam. This can result in being penalized.

5) Link and get linked

Link popularity is a way most search engines determine the importance of your site. When a website link to your site, search engines takes it as a vote for your website. In the past few years, this has greatly helped search engines getting the most relevant result for users.

Recently, with a lot of sites using links to cheat into search engines ranking, major search engines, specially Google have increasingly use and develop new technologies to determine the importance of the links.

So, not all links are treated as equal. Links from big reputable sites, for example Microsoft or Reuters are definitely worth more than link from

Relevancy of the sites also plays a part. Relevant website will give more value to the linked site. Then there is age in play. Older sites are deemed to be more trustworthy than new sites. Consequently, links from older sites are treated as more valuable too.

Directory submission is the oldest way to build your link reputation. There are free Dmoz, free or paid Yahoo Directory, and thousands other directories. Just search for “directory submission” and you have enough work to do for a whole year. Just do directory submission moderately, probably around 20 directories per week, and you can watch your search engine traffic climbing up slowly.

If you have a blog, you can submit it to blog directories as well. Just search for “blog submission”.

Exchanging link with another webmaster is another way. Termed as “link-exchange”, basically you link to the partner site. In exchange, the partner will put hyperlink in his/her site pointing to yours. As many abuse this technique, Google has degraded the value of link-exchange to virtually non-existant. You might even get penalized if your link partner is considered a “bad website” for Google.

While Google has diminished the value of reciprocal link, Yahoo and MSN are still holding on, though with less value. Even then, it still valuable enough to work on. Just be careful to have only reputable link partners.

To check whether the link partner is bad, just search for “” in Google (replace with the partner’s website) and see if the pages are indexed.

The most “in” link-building technique now is via article submission. You can write or buy an original article, and include a link to your website on the resource box (a small section after the article, where you introduce yourself and your website).

This is what I mean:

Article here

About the author
Fernando Hal is a contributing writer for, a blog about click-fraud on pay-per-click advertisements.

You can then submit this article to a myriad of article submission sites, e.g. for other webmasters to put it on their website.

The wonder of article submission is that not only it helps search engine ranking, but also brings in interested visitors who like your articles. This is very targeted traffic, compared with directory submission or link-exchange.

Other link building methods are visiting relevant blogs and leave comments there, as well as joining forums/discussion boards and leaving hyperlink to your site on the signature.

If you intend to purchase link from other sites, consider getting links from many smaller sites rather than few major sites. The paid link might be considered as spam by Google.

On the other hand, don’t be stingy in linking to others. Be choosy on who you want to link, but don’t hold back if you find a good site that can be useful for your visitors.

6) Usability

Always remember, your most important audience is the visitors. Give them a good experience, and they will come back. Framed pages, for example, is irritating. It breaks navigation’s “Back” button, and is confusing. Pop-up windows, javascript hyperlink, and fixed text size are just a few design mistakes notoriously committed by many new web designers/ webmasters.

For a start, read Jacob Nielson’s articles on web usability and web design mistake

Build the website for your visitors. Make easier navigation. Look at Google, MySpace, eBay, and Amazon. There is one striking similarity among them. All four of them have drop simple interface. Many will describe them as “ugly”. But these are few of the most successful sites online.

Fact to be told, web visitors don’t need pretty interface. They need a usable website. Beside helping your visitors, good navigation system will help search engines to find and index your sites.

Or look from other point of view. Your website may be well optimized for search engine, but if your site is not visitor-friendly, the visitors will leave as soon as they come. Like the way this article says it:

In other words, time and money was spent to “optimise” these sites in a way that brought them traffic, and then drove it away!

7) Use Tools

There are many tools to help you rank better in the search engines. By that, I mean tools that can help you to analyze your website so you can make changes accordingly. By all means, stay away from all automated tools that promise to help your ranking, e.g. automated search engine submission software or automated link-exchange software. Your website can get penalized by search engines due to the intrusive nature of many of these automated tools.

Here are few tools that you can use with peace of mind:

- Google Analytics (
Google Analytics is powerful site statistic service that tells you almost everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site.

Currently Google Analytics is offered by invitation only. I have an extra invitation that I’d like to give away. If you are interested, just leave your comments or trackbacks for this post. I’ll give the invitation to the most useful comments/trackbacks.

- Sitemap generator
A sitemap is a file/page where you can list down URL of all pages from your website. A correctly done sitemap can help search engine crawlers find and index your pages. provides free service to generate sitemap in three different formats: xml, html, and text format. You can then upload these sitemaps to your site and follow the search engine submission procedure accordingly (see next items). Note that the free service from has a limitation of 500 pages per website.

You may also try It has higher limit, but can only create sitemap in xml format.

- Google Sitemaps (
Google Sitemaps is an easy way to tell Google about all the pages on your site, which pages are most important to you, and when those pages change, for a smarter crawl and fresher search results.

After you have the sitemap ready, you can then submit to Google Sitemap. Google Sitemap takes in xml-formatted sitemap. Go to follow the instruction there. If you already have a Google account (e.g. Gmail), you can use it straight away. Otherwise you’ll need to register an account.

But Google Sitemaps is much more than just for sitemap submission. It can also answers questions you might have about how Google sees your site. For example, you can learn about errors and statistics.

- Yahoo Site Explorer (
Site Explorer allows you to explore all the web pages indexed by Yahoo Search. You can view the most popular pages from your sites or competitors’ sites, dive into a comprehensive site map, and find pages that link to that site or any page.

- Yahoo Feed Submit (
Yahoo does not have the service equivalent to Google Sitemaps, but if you are looking for a place to submit your sitemap to Yahoo, you can do it at It takes in RSS, Atom, and text format. You can submit the urllist.txt created by above.

8) Be patient

Google imposes a period of time called sandbox, which cap your ranking from going top until a certain period of “probation” is passed. This range from few weeks to more than a year for competitive topics / niche.

Many webmasters agree that Yahoo also has a certain kind of “sandbox”, although there is no specific name for it.

So, if your site is not yet ranked well, be patient. Remember that search engine optimization is not magic. Search engine companies closely guard their mechanism for fear that the information will be used to trick the search engine. All these SEO talks that we have are based on observation of many experienced webmasters. Nothing is fixed here. The search engines may change their algorithm - and thus, your ranking - anytime.

Refrain from overdoing anything, including techniques above or any other technique. Search engines’ main interest is to provide quality result for their audience, the web searchers. When you do too much, it raises suspicion that your content might be not worthy enough to build up naturally.

Know your limit and ability. If you are new on search engine optimization, don’t go for a very competitive keyword like gambling, lawyer, or the infamous mesopotamia.

Moderation, thus, is the key.

9) Stay away from black hat optimization techniques

Black hat search engine optimization techniques promise quick way to improve your site ranking and bring visitors to your site. These includes page cloaking, hidden text, link-farm, comment-spamming, and duplicate pages.

You may not understand all these terms, but if you anyone telling you they can improve your search ranking overnight, these are most likely black hat techniques.

They work by tricking search engines to think that your pages hold more value than what they really are. As the search engines competes to provide the most useful search result to the visitors, they shun these techniques.

Nowadays, major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN have advanced detection technology to sniff out these black hat techniques. When they fail, your competitors are all too happy to point it out to the search engines.

Search engines will then take action accordingly, like penalising your site ranking or even take them down altogether.

10) Keep on learning

These techniques are just the basic to get you started. There are many resources on the Internet to learn search engine optimization.

Here are some places to get you going:
- Wikipedia
- Google Webmaster Help Center
- Yahoo! Webmaster Resources
- Webmaster World
- Digital Point Forums


Copyright 2009 Make Money Blogging Online. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates designed by Deluxe Templates