SEO 101 – The Basics of Onsite Optimization

search engine optimization

Ready to put up a website? Think SEO before you start building that site! Plan for your traffic before you write the first word. On site optimization starts with keywords!

Keyword Research – What does your market type into the search bar? To reach your custom you have to use the keywords that people are using to find products, services or information that you offer. I know it's your business, and you probably think you know what those are, but take the time to check with a keyword research tool to find out which terms are most often used and to find variations. Look at the title and keyword meta tags of competitors sites to see what words other businesses believe to be relevant. Check those in a keyword tool, too. * Keyword tools below.

Content – Make it original, relevant and useful to your target audience. Your keyword research will suggest what your content should be. First and foremost you must consider what human visitors want, but you must write your content to match the search terms humans are typing into search engines to reach sites such as yours. Tailor your home page to the keyword phrase you decide to target as the primary phrase. Make additional pages for each additional phrase.

Navigation – Your navigation should be Search Engine Friendly. You can make simple HTML text links or set up CSS menus to achieve the same results, but you want to use your keyword phrases in text links to your interior pages. That's called "anchor text" and it's important.

File Names for Internal Pages – Name interior pages according to their content. If your site is about beach balls and you find there are searches for red beach balls, blue beach balls and discount beach balls, then you'll want name your pages: red- beach-balls.html, blue- beach-balls.html and discount- beach-balls.html and so on. Use hyphens rather than underscores to separate the keywords in the file name. Another way to go is with a sub-directory called beach-balls, so your file names would be domainname.com/beach-balls/red.html, and so on.

File Names for Images – Name your images logically ,, but with keywords where appropriate. So, rather than logo.jpg consider using beach-ball-company-logo.jpg.

The Very Important Title Tag – Use your primary keyword phrase as the first 3 words in your title tag. This tag may be up to 80 characters. Do not use your company name as the first 3 words; you will not have any trouble ranking for that.

Meta Description Tag – This meta tag is not a ranking factor in the big three search engines, but it is what the customers see. And searchers are most likely to click on a listing when their search phrase is in the title or description. Use this tag to sell your product. I's your first impression and may be the only chance you get to sell your site. This tag should be 200-250 characters.

Meta Keyword Tag – this tag is believed to be ignored by Google and most of the major search engines, but for some crawler based indexes it may be helpful. It takes a few minutes; use it. Just be sure that there is text matching on the page itself. Otherwise it can work against your site, as it looks like you are spamming.

Unique Counts in Meta Tags – Search engines may not use meta descriptions to rank a page, but they do notice if the tags are not unique to each page. Be sure to have unique title and meta description tags for every page on your site.

Heading Tags – Use your keyword phrase in an h1 tag at the top of the page. Use the h1 tag once. Only once. For sub headings, use the h2 and h3 tags. Think of headings as you would an outline for an article. Use the longer related keyword phrases in your sub headings – we call those 'long tailed phrases.'

Keyword Placement – The target keyword phrase should appear

  • in the first paragraph of the page content
  • in bold somewhere on the page
  • in a link from the home page to an internal page
  • in a link from your home page to an authority site
  • in a link from internal pages back to the home page

When appropriate use the target phrase elsewhere, such as:

  • in alt tags of graphics
  • in italics
  • Capitalized (first character only, not ALL CAPS)
  • in a bulleted list like this one.

NoNos – Avoid Flash, frames and javascript. If you really want to use Flash, then provide an HTML alternative for every page. If you need javascript, be sure to call it from the server, rather than loading the page with script. And if you must use frames, just say NO! No frames. Period.

* Free Keyword research tools:


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