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How to Use Basic On-Page Search Engine Optimization Techniques

Part of the Search Engine Optimization For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When the search engines look at your pages to figure out what they’re all about, you can in effect tell them what the page is about. You get the most out of search engine optimization by putting keywords into the pages, in the right pages. Following are a few basic search-engine optimization techniques for your webpages.

Say that you’re optimizing for the phrase rodent racing. Here are a few tips for where to place this text:

  • The page’s filename and path — the URL — is very important. Get keywords in there. Don’t waste this prime real estate. You might have something like this: http://www.yourdomain.com/rodent-racing-scores.html

  • The page’s <TITLE></TITLE> tags are also very important. You should make sure you include keywords, like this: <TITLE>Rodent Racing - Looking after Your Rodents, Feeding Them, Everything You Need to Know</TITLE>

  • The description tag is important, though not always for search-results placement; Google says it doesn’t use the tag to help rank your page. However, the tag will often appear in the search results page, so make sure that it contains good keywords, but also consider that it’s a sales pitch, encouraging searchers to click your link rather than someone else’s. For instance: <META NAME="description" CONTENT="Rodent Racing - Scores, Schedules, Everything Rodent Racing. Mouse Racing, Stoat Racing, Rat Racing, Gerbil Racing. The Web's Top Rodent Racing Systems and Racing News">

  • Despite what you may have heard, the KEYWORDS meta tag holds little value; search engines either ignore it or give it very little weight. Use it, but don’t spend much time on it. Put a few basic keywords in there.

  • Headings on your pages are valuable. They should contain keywords and should be formatted in a manner that tells the search engines that they actually are headings; use <H> tags. Use an <H1> tag at the top and then use <H2> and <H3> tags lower on the page.

  • Use keywords in your image filenames and in the image tag’s ALT text. For example: <IMG SRC="rodent-racing-1.jpg" ALT="Rodent Racing - Ratty Winners of our Latest Rodent Racing Event">. Using ALT text is particularly important when creating image links to other pages on your site, as it tells the search engines what the referenced page is about.

  • Wherever possible, use text links. Search engines read the anchor text in the links to find out what the page the link points to is about. If you need lots of links in your site, use good keywords in those links.

  • Repeat your keywords . . . but not too much. If you want a page to rank well for rodent racing, then it also needs to appear a few times throughout the body text. But if it sounds clumsy, you’ve overdone it.

  • Draw attention to keywords in your body text. Make them bold; put them in bulleted lists, or make them italic.

Here’s the ideal optimized page:

You used the keywords in the filename

. . . and in the <TITLE></TITLE> tags

. . . and in the DESCRIPTION meta tag

. . . and in the page’s first <H1> tag

. . . and perhaps in some subheadings

. . . and multiple times throughout the body of the page

You have the keywords in links, elsewhere in your site, pointing to the page.

You have the keywords in links, on other websites, pointing to the page.

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Search Engine Optimization For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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