Search Engine Optimization is a very complex field of study.  I call it a “field of study” because it is not a finite subject but it is ever evolving and expanding.  Many of the recommendations listed here are based on personal experience, forum reading or other SEO sites.  First we will start with a discussion of exactly what SEO is and then we will discuss a few common SEO tactics that should help would-be webmasters and future Internet tycoons.

Search Engine Optimization is a desire to manipulate a web page in order to cause the website or page to appear higher in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a specific keyword or set of keywords.  Essentially what we are looking to do is to “fool” the search engines into listing our website as one of the most relevant results for a given topic.  The hope, of course, is to drive more traffic to a website…and hopefully drive more sales.

Selecting Keywords
One of the most important aspects of SEO optimization is keyword selection.  The balance one must strike when selecting keywords is to pick keywords that are specific enough to drive the right kind of traffic, but broad enough to have a high level of traffic.  For example, let’s say that you are selling red chairs.  If we were to optimize just on the phrase “red chairs” you would only get approximately 33,100 searches per month.  This may not be enough traffic to yield enough traffic  to provide the business desired.  However, if you were to optimize just on the keyword of “chairs”, this would net 13,600,000 searches per month.  This is a significant difference.  Many people pick keywords that are way to specific and even if they achieve top SERP position, there is never enough traffic brought in to support an online business.  The best way to judge the amount of traffic a given keyword or set of keywords provides is to use Google’s Keyword Tool.  It is a good idea to only target one keyword or key phrase per page.  The reason for this will become more evident as you read additional suggestions.

Domain Name
While it is not always an option, one really good way to get ahead in search engine results is to have your domain name match or include your keyword.  For example, if you are selling cameras and your domain name is hotcameras.tld for example.  That would give you a boost in your SERP.  Again, this is not always possible but should be a consideration if a site is just starting out.

Page Name
One thing that is a little easier to control is page name.  I always advise customers to change their page names to include the keyword or keyphrase they are targetting.  For example, if I have chosen “exchange hosting” as my keyword, then my optimal page name would be http://www.alphaomegahosting.com/exchange-hosting.html.  As you can see, if you are targeting a phrase, you can separate the words in the phrase with hyphens.

Obviously this is very easily done for new sites.  However, if you are working with an existing site, you will need to rename the files AND leave a method to redirect traffic from the existing page name to the new page.  If you fail to do this, you could very easily lose existing linked or organic search engine traffic.  The easiest way to do this for apache users, if your server supports it, is via .htaccess file.  Here is an example:

redirect 301 /exchange.html http://www.alphaomegahosting.com/exchange-hosting.html

In the above example, we are redirecting the old page name, exchange.html to a new url, exchange-hosting.html.  Obviously different web servers will have different methods for forwarding traffic or creating redirects.

Meta Tags
Meta tags are special, hidden tags inside of html that are used to tell search engines what your page is about.  Once upon a time, this was the only way that search engines knew how to classify your page.  However, many search engines either completely ignore this content or place very little weighting on it.  However, it is still a good idea not to overlook this obvious and easy method to provide some information.  The 2 most important meta tags are “keywords” and “description”.  Here are some examples of meta tags and how they are implemented:

   <meta name="keywords" content="managed vps, vps hosting, vps, virtual private server, managed virtual private server, virtual dedicated server, vds, vmware vps, hosted vps ">
   <meta name="description" content="AlphaOmegaHosting.com provides exception managed vps services for the vps hosting community.">

These tags should be placed int he section of your html.

Continued in Part 2

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