In this tutorial, I’m going to cover the core fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization. You’ll learn how to optimize your website to be search engine-friendly, with content that ranks high for popular keywords and phrases, and stay at the top with a few simple title-writing best practices.

Making Your Website Crawler-Friendly

In the early 2000’s, us SEO folks were stuffing our pages with keywords and adding redirect scripts to point the user to our homepages. At the time, this was the only way to come up in a directory or search engine for a particular phrase. Thankfully, the search engines started to actually care what users thought of the listings in their results, so our jobs got easier.

When I say “making your website crawler-friendly, I’m not talking about keywords, I’m talking about how accessible and understandable your website is to the main web crawlers: Googlebot, Slurp (Yahoo!), and MSNBot (Bing). Read the lessons in the SEO Track to learn more about how to make your site friendly, such as:

  • Using canonical tags to avoid duplicate content issues (such as print-friendly copies)
  • using a robots.txt file to guide the search engines on where to go and where not to go
  • Using XML sitemaps to feed the search engines a list of all your content you’d like indexed
  • Using static sitemaps to improve the distribution of Google PageRank™
  • Using breadcrumbs and intuitive navigation schemas
  • Reducing page load times (which also helps with the 3rd SEO criteria below)
  • Website taxonomy (categorization) to make cataloging content easier
  • Validating for broken links and images
  • And more!

Making Your Content Optimized for Higher Ranking

Once your website is easy to crawl and index, you’ll need to identify every keyword you’d like to rank for and match those keywords to pages that already exist; or in many cases, identify new pages that have the keyword theme included.

I’ve constructed an excellent SEO Content Writing Guide you can download to help you get started understanding how to write for higher search engine placement. Here’s the download:

Download the SEO Content Writing Guide

User-Choice Influences Ranking

So your content and search engine-friendliness have you ranked #9 in the search results (finally, right?). How then do you get to the top of the search engine results? Simple: Start with killer titles and descriptions. Take a look at the example below.

Sample SERPS Listing

Notice my use of “call-to-action” (“Learn”), keyword and value proposition (“video”, “multiple accounts”, etc). These principles are timeless and will help influence searchers to choose your listing.

Wait! You didn’t know that Google and other search engines record your searches and selections? Yes, it’s true, they use your selection to help determine relevancy. They also record a user’s actions if they later return to the search results and make a different selection.

So why not just pay a bunch of people to search for and click your listing all day? Simple, the PhD’s over all Google have created pattern detection in their algorithm to help such “Black Hat SEO” activity. So don’t bother. Just create an awesome title and meta description and make sure when the user gets to your page that they find exactly what they are looking for.

That’s not to say that you couldn’t create a campaign that convinces people to search for your content and choose you in the search results. It just means creating a “job” to influence results isn’t likely to help.

In Summary

The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization include:

  1. Having a website that is search engine (web crawler) friendly
  2. Having content on the website that is keyword-themed to rank higher
  3. To get to #1 and stay there, users need to choose your website and stay there

Thanks for reading! Please leave your comments below.