Editor’s Note: is a contributor to Practical eCommerce and the owner of BillHartzer.com, a Dallas-based online marketing firm. Hartzer wrote the article, below, which first appeared in that company’s blog.
If you want to use search engine optimization best practices, or want to get updated on the latest search engine optimization techniques, there are a lot of good SEO resources to keep you up-to-date. If you’re confused already about search engine optimization, here are my expert thoughts about search engine optimization in 2010, based on my experience.
First off, before I go any further, I need to explain what I mean when I say “search engine optimization” (SEO). It means getting your website noticed in the search engines, in the “free” or “organic,” natural search results, not pay-per-click (PPC), which is “search engine marketing,” where you have to pay to be listed. That said, let’s get on with my list of issues with search engine optimization that you need to be aware of.
When it comes to SEO, it’s extremely important that your website is search engine friendly. The search engines can crawl your website and find all of the pages on the site. Each of these web pages contains unique content (enough content so that the search engines can figure out what your web page is about). Each web page must have generally accepted “best practices” applied to it, which includes:
- A proper title tag.
- Proper meta tags, including a meta description tag and a meta keywords tag.
- Proper use of .css style sheets, headings and sub headings, and SEO friendly navigation.
- No hidden text or content that’s not viewable by humans.
- Good use of internal anchor text, which is the text that you use to link to other web pages on your site. It needs to describe what you’re linking to. For example, if I link to the “search engine marketing services” page, the link text should be “search engine marketing services” or something equally appropriate.
- Proper internal link structure, which includes having more links to your most important web pages.
- Proper use of URLs (i.e., search engine friendly URLs), which includes using keywords in the URL. Don’t use parameters, do rewrite the URLs whenever possible.
- Adding good, on-topic content on a regular basis to your site. This can be in the form of articles, a blog, news items, new videos, PDFs, a message board, a directory, a glossary of terms, press releases, and other content. The most important idea here is to keep adding content and growing your site, not just leaving it alone to be a static site.
There are a lot of other important on-page factors, and you can review the latest search engine ranking factors, for example, that are important. There really isn’t enough time here to cover everything that’s important. For now, let’s move onto the search engine optimization off-page factors.
There are also things you can do off-page to promote your site beyond adding content and optimizing web pages. The first order of business is to get your site “trusted” by the search engines (mainly Google). There are several things you can do to get trusted, which includes doing a few press releases and distributing them through the proper distribution channels, as well as getting a few important directory listings, such as Yahoo! Directory, Best of the Web, dmoz, Business.com, and others.
Your website generally also needs to be in your more important niche-type of directories, which will depend on your industry. If there are industry trade magazines that have buyer’s guides or other on-topic listings, you might start there. The whole idea is to get listed on websites that require a human element or human review.
So, here are the important points:
- Get your site trusted (TrustRank).
- Human-edited directory listings.
- Analyze competitors’ links.
- On-topic links are key.
- Focus on links from many unique domains.
- Create off-site content and link back to your site.
- Deep links are key (not just to home page).
- Get “links to your links.”
- Get a few links each day.
Combine your SEO efforts with social media marketing efforts. For example, once you post on your blog, make sure that you promote that blog post on the social media websites. Get links to your social media links. Also, read more about Google’s Top Links feature.
More About Anchor Text
In 2010, exact anchor text is not necessarily good. Sure, it’s okay to have a few exact anchor text links, and I would not go out and remove the ones that already have exact anchor text. But you need to vary it. Here are some examples:
- Example of anchor text: Search Engine Marketing
- Example of good anchor text: Bill Hartzer, a search engine marketing expert
- Example of better anchor text: At the Pubcon Conference in Dallas, Bill Hartzer, a search engine marketing expert from Texas, says that you need to vary your anchor text.
Links within sentences are ideal, search engines are aware of information before and after the anchor text.
More About Search Engine Optimization in 2010
If you want to go a bit further and learn more about search engine optimization, here are two great resources to learn about search engine optimization.
SEMPO Institute – Part of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, this is a place where you can take SEO courses and other Internet marketing courses and get certified.
DIYSEO – If you’re a small business and want to be coached through the entire SEO process so you can essentially do it yourself, then DIYSEO is the place to go.