Seo Ultimate Guide
When I started my first online project, I was extremely passionate about it, and I had really high hopes for it to become an authority widely recognized among the webdesign world. But I realized really fast that you can’t just build a website in 5 minutes, throw it onto the interweb and wait for a huge crowd to come visit it.
Of course, this website was my first “baby” online, so I was thinking: “why are all these people not understanding how great my website is?”. The thing is, a lot of people around the internet are thinking the exact same way that I did, but building a website is like opening a shop in a really dark cul-de-sac. You have to bring it to people attention or else, no one will notice it.
So I began a long journey around the web to understand the various steps that I could take to build an audience for my website. I was going to build up my online presence and the recognition of my website.
2/ So, what is this SEO about?
Well, according to Wikipedia: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.
As I had almost no money to spend on my website, I had to find ways to build my online presence for a very little cost (except the webhosting and the domain name registration). This was going to take a lot of grunt work that could be easily skipped or simplified through the use of 3rd party services like DIYSEO. If I had known about this website when I first started, it could have saved me months of hard work struggling to come to the expected results, this is why I’m sharing it with you.
3/ General information about SEO
Organic traffic generally represents about 70% to 80% of the big websites traffic. As you can easily understand, this is a huge load of FREE traffic, and no one is going to turn their back on it, because traffic is the key to everything online.
The SEO is very important because it brings a lot of positive points with it. It’s the biggest source of traffic you can have for your website and because it’s targeted traffic, people will be interested by the content of your website.
4/ SEO, how does it work?
When you are looking for a business or for information on a given subject, you usually go to your favorite search engine and type in one or several keywords. You express freely and spontaneously what you expect to find, your needs, what you like, your taste, without being restrained.
The main goal of SEO is to have content which is highly relevant to the main subject of your website, so that when someone is looking for information about your website, you are appearing as high as possible in the search engine results to get their attention.
The more content you have, the more keywords you will be targeting and getting traffic from!
5/ How to do Search Engine Optimization?
If you want to reach a wide audience, you need to make your website as Search Engine Friendly as possible.
There are a few shady techniques to gain some rank in the search engines, but I won’t be discussing them here, because it’s usually a short term method, and I’m here to help you build a long term relevant online presence. So, never forget that if you are nice to the Search Engines, they will send you a lot of traffic in return.
6/ General optimization
A/ Page accessibility
All the important pages of your websites need to be at most 3 clicks away from your homepage. It is very difficult to get some page, which are lost in the depth of your site, ranked well in the search engine results.
If your website structure is pushing some pages deep into your website, you can still do some cross-linking from one page to another to lower the number of clicks to reach it. But never forget that you need to make your links as contextual as possible.
B/ Website structure
The name of your categories and subcategories are VERY important to get some good ranks. They need to contain some of the highest targeted keywords for your website. For example, on Dukeo, some of my categories are: “SEO”, “mindset”, “Wordpress” because I’m trying to rank high for keywords containing these terms.
To find the “good” category names, you need to put yourself in the place of the people who are searching on the web and think about the keywords you want them to type to get to your website.
Once you have an idea about the keywords you want to rank for, you can verify their pertinence through a few tools like Google Keyword Tool, Google Trends and Google Insight for Search.
C/ Nice url
Your Url structure needs to be simple and relevant at the same time for both users and search engines. Your keywords needs to be separated by dashes “-“. Here is a simple example to help you understand:
Generally it is a webpage linked from the footer of the website and it’s presenting the structure of the full website. Its purpose is like the table of content of a book. It lets the Search Engine having a global look over the totality of your content.
Breadcrumbs are a VERY USEFUL functionality and it is totally underused on small websites. It helps your visitor locate the page he is currently on, and it lets him navigate to your general categories more easily.
Here is an example: Mysite > Category 1 > SubCategory1 > MyArticle. Each of these words would be linked to the homepage / category / subcategory / article. It won’t let you get good rankings by itself, but it will improve your SEO efforts.
F/ One content, one page, one language
You should consider this absolute rule for your inner pages: 1 page = 1 content = 1 language. It is almost impossible to rank your pages for more than 2 or 3 keywords or keyword phrase.
If you are writing a page about economy, fashion, weather, and travels, you must break it into 1 article per category or else you won’t be able to rank for any of these themes. The same rule applies for language. You shouldn’t use more than 1 language for each of your pages or you would lower your ranks in each language.
7/ On Page SEO
It consists of some data that you can find in the <head></head> part of your HTML pages. They are not directly viewable by your visitors. Example:
<title>Youtube – Broadcast Yourself</title>
<meta name="description" content="YouTube is a place to discover, watch, upload and share videos." />
<meta name="keywords" content="video, free, simple, search, find, discover, watch, engage, share, sharing, upload, entertainment" />
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" /> </head>
- The <title> tag
The title tag contains the text which will appear at the very top of the browser window and also on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).
It should usually have a length between 50 and 70 signs. You should try to give your pages unique titles (2 pages shouldn’t have the same title because the title tag is very important for the search engines to detect duplicated content.
- The Meta Description tag
Most of the SEO specialists agree that this tag is not
used anymore to rank the websites in the SERP. But, it has
a huge impact on the click-through rate in the SERP because it does appear just under your page names to provide the visitors with a small description of the content of the webpage, so it should be highly relevant regarding your content.
Also, it appears that it is also used to detect duplicate content, so it should be unique for each of your website pages.
- The Meta Keywords tag
SEO specialists are still discussing the importance of this tag. In the past it appeared to be used a lot by the Search Engines to rank the pages for given keywords, but due to some abuse by Black Hatters, its importance has been lowered.
Moreover, if you decide to use them, the same rule as Meta Description applies. It seems to be used to detect duplicate content, so it should be unique for each page.
- The Meta Robots tag
This tag is used to tell the Search Engines Spiders (robots used to indesx your pages) if they should index your pages or not, and if they should follow the links on a given page.
You can put 2 values for each variable: index/noindex (it will index your page or not), follow/nofollow (it will follow the links on this page or not).
The Robots.txt file has a similar use, which makes this tag optional but it can be useful if you want to prevent the indexing of a single page.
B/ Semantic structure
The semantic structure of your page consists in the use of specific Html Tags. It’s the exact same thing as using Styles in Word to automatically generate a table of content.
The semantic structure when implemented correctly lets the Search Engines understand fast and without error, how a webpage is built. The text contained within these tags has more weight regarding the various keyword ranks.
It implies that all of your pages must have a title, including the Homepage and the “category homepages”. It is forgotten on a lot of websites and it is a great less in term of SEO.
The title of each page must be included between <h1></h1> tags. Subtitles between <h2></h2> tags, etc... There are 6 possible levels of titles from <h1> to <h6>. But it is widely accepted that only the first 3 levels have additional SEO weight for your SERP ranks.
There are a few rules to respect: a webpage can include only one title <h1> tag, and the <h1> tag cannot be under a <h2> tag (a title can’t be under a subtitle).
C/ Image Optimization
- The ALT Attribute
You should ALWAYS put some Alt attributes on your images. It must be a small description of the content of the image, or at least the Title of your article. This text is used for the visually disabled to know the content of a website
and it is also displayed in the tooltip in Internet Explorer when your hover an image.
- The TITLE Attribute
Do not mistake it for the Title Tag of your page. This attribute is used to define the links and the images. It is showed in the tooltip in FireFox and Chrome when you hover an image.
At the time when this report is written, it looks like it is ignored by Google and Yahoo but potentially used by Bing.
- The File Name
If your website system does not automatically rename the files when you upload them, take good care of your filenames.
Name them with keywords linked with the image content, separate the keywords with dashes “-“ and don’t let any space between the words.
- Image Caption
When possible, include a short caption above or under the image. Search Engines are analyzing the semantic context of the image to determine its content. This caption will help them understand the content of the image.
Tip: There is no form to get images indexed in Google Images, there is no Sitemap system for images,
you have to wait for Google to index them automatically. But you can log into Google Webmaster Tools and manually activate the Image Search Function for a given site.
There are a few rules to follow when you setup the links on your site:
= They shouldn’t be set on a whole paragraph, but on a few targeted keywords (at most 3 or 4 keywords).
= They must be explicit: you should ban links with anchor such as “click here”, “to know more”, “check also”. The request “click here” returns almost 4 billion results, which is the proof that there is a lot of room for improvement.
= Each article should be linked at least once from other pages of your site. Orphan pages won’t be indexed.
= Try to avoid Links on “Imaged-text”: for example, you shouldn’t use an image menu.
Tip: Remember that Google considers that, when a link is made with a given Anchor, the target page is relevant for this Keyword or Keyword Phrase.
E/ Text/Link Ratio
There must be a good quantity of non-clickable text on each of your pages. If a page includes more links than text, Google will take it as a navigation page, or worse, as an Over-optimized page (which will result as very bad rankings in the SERP).
F/ Search Engine Unfriendly Technologies
- Flash Files
Nowadays, the Search Engines still have a lot of difficulties to index the Full Flash Websites, even if some progress have been made.
If your site is using Flash Technology, you should limit it’s usage to elements which doesn’t include some crucial textual elements. You should also avoid using it for the navigation menu, or else, you should make a double in full HTML.
Don’t forget to clearly fill the <no embed> tags of all your flash content, with equivalent non-flash content.
Search Engine Spiders are unable to read the
elements within a form. You shouldn’t use drop-down
menus for navigation. Most of the time you can replace them with DHTML elements.
If you still want to use drop-down menus for navigation, you should double it with an HTML menu (in the footer of your website for example).
- Frames and iFrames
Search Engine Robots do not index the pages within
frames. Try to avoid using frames when possible.
If you absolutely want to use frames in your website, put some content within the <noframes></noframes> of the code to feed the spiders.
For iFrames, the problem is almost the same. If you want to use them, you should forbid it’s indexation by Search Engines, through the use of Meta Robots or the Robots.txt file. Otherwise, it would lead to a bad indexation and the misleading of the visitor to an orphan page.
8/ Off Page SEO
A/ Technical Pages
- Robots.txt File
The Robots.txt file is used only by Search Engines. It
is located in the root folder of your website.
It has 2 goals: Give the Sitemap Url to the Spiders, tell the Search Engine Robots which part of your website they shouldn’t index.
Here is an example Robots.txt: User-Agent: *
- Sitemap XML
Sitemap is an internet protocol which is widely accepted by Search Engines. The aim of the Sitemap is to feed the Search Engine Robots in an automated way the Urls of the new pages to index.
This improves drastically the speed of indexation of your newest pages, which is very useful when you launch a new website.
You can find all the useful information about Sitemaps on http://sitemaps.org which also provides a file validator to check the coding of your sitemap file.
You can generate this file manually, but it is better to have it generated dynamically when your website is updated. It is recommended to put the freshest urls at the top of your Sitemap file.
A Sitemap shouldn’t include more than 50 000 Urls and weight more than 50Mo. In the case you have more Urls, you should have additional Sitemap files regrouped in a Sitemap Index.
The Sitemap.xml file should be declared in the Robots.txt (located in the root folder).
Added to the classical Sitemap, you can add specific Sitemaps for some types of content.
- Google News Sitemap
It will highly help regarding the speed of indexation of your articles in Google News. It is limited to 1000 urls and it must include only “news-type” articles. Also, it should be updated in real time, every time you post a new article.
- Video Sitemap
It will let you submit your videos while associating them with meta-data and a snapshot which will be shown in the SERP.
- Geolicalised Sitemap
It is indexing the files with geographic information like KLM and GeoRSS which will be shown in apps like Google Maps and Google Earth.
B/ Error 404
When some of your webpages are removed or doesn’t exist, the webserver returns a 404 error. The page displayed when this error is returned is totally customizable, and it is strongly advised to do so.
Offering to your visitors a webpage with the same layout as the other pages of your site and with a high number of clickable links to other content will significantly decrease the bounce rate usually generated by an error page.
Tip: How to design your 404 page? It must use the same layout as the other pages. All the links to your categories should be there. You can add a mini sitemap that will help your visitor locate some content that might be interesting for him.
C/ Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Center
The main Search Engines are now offering tools to analyze the way your site is being seen by the Search Engine Spiders.
The most complete set of tools is probably Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll find a ton of useful information to optimize your site and tweak it to make it Search Engine Friendly. You can also submit your sitemaps to get indexed faster, identify errors, and learn which keywords you are ranking for. You can also ask for a page to be removed from the index (very useful if some admin pages get indexed by error).
9/ Comprehensive Tools
You can find a lot of people online who will tell you that they can get you on the first page of google for a little cost. They are generally hit’n’runners, fast made so-called services built overnight, spamming their advertising, taking your money then vanishing.
There are also a huge number of people who are offering to get you thousands of backlinks to your site, but beware, most of them are doing some automated submissions to spam directories, sure you will get a lot of backlinks in 2 days, then, due to bad neighborhood effect, your site will go down and down in the SERP.
I might compile all the information I gathered on the internet regarding backlinks, link building strategies in another guide that I will distribute through the Dukeo Newsletter in the near future, because it’s an important aspect of improving your rankings.
But here, I want to give a few words about an impressive service that I am now using for all my website launches. DIYSEO (Do It Yourself SEO). It’s a comprehensive set of tools that takes you step by step into improving your website SEO, both On Page and Off Page. It goes from newbie advices to very advanced techniques. You can take it at your own pace, either you want to go hardcore and spend 12 hours a day working on it, or work 1 or 2 hours per day to improve your SEO.
Moreover, they have a 7 days completely free. You can cancel at any time, no questions asked. If you want my opinion, this is a bargain. I was a little skeptical at first, then I took advantage of the 7 day trial, and now I just can’t stop using it, this is just mint. Give it a look and you’ll thank me for this great tool.
When you’re logged in there, you’ll find a very intuitive schedule-type tool which lets you have an overlook of your current progress at any time. This is what motivates me every single day to work on my SEO. What about you?
SEO FOR BLOGS: The Ultimate Guide Dukeo.com Page 22
There is not a single SEO technique that will do magic and get you in the top of the Search Engine Results. You need to apply a wide set of techniques to gain more visibility.
If you think about SEO and apply it from the very beginning of your website project, it will be quite easy to implement, especially with a service like DIYSEO.
On the other end, if you already have your website, you can still use the advices from this guide and DIYSEO to dramatically improve your ranks.
I personally hope that you have found some useful information in this guide about SEO, and I advise you to stay tuned. Because I am already working on some other great guides to help you improve your online visibility and become more influent in your niche.