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SEO Survival Guide

Updated on October 8, 2014

SEO is a complicated business, and it can be expensive too. Getting to grips with SEO for small businesses can be made a lot easier by first making sure the content of your website is presented so the search engines can find it and read it easily. Following this guide, you can make sure everything on your website is optimised perfectly for the search engines to read. Once you've conquered this, you'll be ready to start link building.

Step 1 - Identify your target keyword or key phrase for every page

What is the page about? Are you selling red socks, or blue sweaters? Have a clear understanding what you want the page to rank well for before making changes.

Step 2 - Use that keyword or phrase in the page name/URL

A URL like www.mystore.com/red-socks.html is going to rank much better than www.mystore.com/8945hsfi8.html

Step 3 - Put that keyword or phrase in the first four words of your title tag

It’s very common to have the business name at the start of the title tag, we’re all proud of our businesses. But its proven that having the key phrase at the start of the title improves rankings.

Step 4 - Keep your title tag to less than 70 characters (65 or less is better) and make sure it is unique

Anything over 70 characters will get cut off with ellipses (...) Make sure the title tag is clear to read and easy to understand.

Step 5 - Use a style tag for your page headline and include your target keyword or key phrase in that tag

H1 tags still carry weight with search engines, make sure yours are clear and concise, and include your keywords or key phrase.

Step 6 - Make sure the page text includes the target keyword or key phrase

Seems obvious, but if your page is selling red socks, and the body text doesn’t contain the words red socks, how is the search engine going to know what the page is about?

Step 7 - Make sure the meta description that includes that keyword or key phrase

While meta descriptions don’t improve your rankings, its often a first users interaction with your website. A well-written description should include a good summary of the page and a call to action to improve click through rates, and don’t forget the key phrase!

Step 8 - Include the keyword or key phrase or in the alt-text for images. Use descriptive file names that are relevant to the page

The alt img tag is used to specify text to be displayed when an image can’t be found or loaded by a browser. While an image failing to load is rarely a problem with today’s internet connections, search engines use these tags to look for clues as to what the page may be about. The same principle applies to the file name, if it’s a picture of red socks, then name the file redsocks.jpg

Step 9 - Check your coding

Is the HTML valid? Is everything crawlable? If you have text in Flash or embedded in images, the search engines won’t find it. Make sure your code is neat and tidy, and the page is quick to load. If a page is full of errors, a search engine may skip it and move on to the next one.

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