SEO For Free: What You Can Do Yourself

Description: Not all search engine optimization techniques require you to get your wallet out. Many of the best methods for making sure your website is found don't cost a single cent.

One of the best aspects of search engine optimization is that you don't have to pay out large sums of money to get someone else to do it for you. There are a lot of aspects which can be learned and done yourself, if you are prepared to put in the work.

Many aspects of SEO can also be learned for free, costing you no more than your time to put into practice and keep on top of in order to stay ahead of your competition. This kind of search engine optimization is known as organic SEO, as opposed to having to pay to get it done, which can be achieved through PPC (pay per click) techniques.

Put simply, if you want to get good results from using free SEO techniques yourself, you need to have a basic understanding and respect for the search engines and what they do. If you don't have this you could end up straying from the ?white hat' techniques that are encouraged and veering into the ?black hat' techniques that will get you banned.

There are basically four main areas you need to focus your energies on in order to achieve good results. These are as follows:


Let's look at each of these in turn to see what you can do to optimize each one without spending anything in the process.

Let's start with keywords. These will attract the right kind of people to your site, and you could be missing out on a lot of visitors if you don't use your keywords properly - or even worse, miss some out altogether. If your site sells stainless steel dog tags for example, and you don't have that four word key phrase sprinkled throughout your site, what do you think the odds are of your site appearing in search engine results every time someone looks up that exact phrase?

That's right - just about zero.

That's a lot of traffic to be missing out on, which is why it pays to sit down and go through your site carefully, making a list of all the keywords and phrases that are there - and identifying all the ones that are missing.

A good trick to remember when doing this is to type every keyword and phrase you can think of into one of the main search engines to see how many results come back. If there are millions, then that's how many pages you will be competing against for that search term.

Basically the more detailed your keyword phrases are, the less searches are likely to be performed on them - which means less competition for you. The best ones will have a lot of sponsored links in the results as well, meaning people are willing to pay for that term.

Strike a good balance of keywords and phrases, and find some that get good results but aren't used by many other competing sites - giving you an even greater chance of ranking near the top of the results from the very beginning.

Using a different mix of keywords on each page will help to ensure that your position within the search engines is strengthened overall. Going back to the dog tag example, if you also have a page of nine carat gold dog tags, make sure that same page features that keyword phrase, plus other relevant ones for that particular range of items, as well as including more general ones.

The second aspect to concentrate on is content. The very foundations of the internet are built on solid content, and the more worthwhile content you can provide, the better. Regular updates of your site and newly added articles will attract the attention of the search engines, which will be more likely to rank your site higher as a result. You need to show them your site is active and constantly evolving, which can be done simply by following the advice given in this article.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that content is only there to fill up the pages of a website. This particularly seems to be the case if the site's primary function is selling goods. The fact remains however that well written content (keyworded carefully as shown above) can help to get your site ranked more highly - which will make you more sales in the end anyway.

Think about what your site visitors want to know, and what information you could provide them with. In this sense providing worthwhile content isn't just about pleasing the search engines, it's about pleasing your visitors as well and persuading them that they should bookmark your site and return again later.

As far as the percentage of keywords in an article is concerned figures do vary, but as a general rule around three to five per cent of your total word count should be devoted to keywords.

The third area to focus on is linking. Linking makes your site more visible to the search engines. You can link to other sites from your own; other sites can link to yours (more valuable), and you can also link different pages of your site together.

All of these methods used in conjunction will produce the best results, and luckily you have a fair amount of control over all three methods.

The main rule of thumb to remember when you link to other sites is to make sure that each link earns its place. By that I mean that you shouldn't just insert loads of links in order to attract the attention of the search engine spiders you hope will crawl your site. Make each link earn its place; make sure they are worthwhile and will add value for your site and for your customers. It goes without saying that you don't want to be associated with any dubious sites, so make sure you only link to those which have a good reputation - it can and will rub off on you over time.

Linking back to your site is a little trickier. If you take the time to build a worthwhile site and promote it in a number of ways then it will get found by more and more people, and a percentage of them are likely to link to it without being asked from their own website or blog.

You can link into it yourself by doing so from your own blog, your social networking pages and any bookmarking sites you are a member of. You can also write articles for other websites which provide a link to your own site which people can follow from the foot of the article. Don't just provide links to your home page - link in to other pages within your site too, to demonstrate to the search engine spiders that there is plenty more to explore.

It is this same reason that makes it an advantage to link all the pages of your site together as well. This can be done by providing suitable text links within articles, or within the description at the top of a page. For example, for a page on gold dog tags you could put a short description of the tags, and add that ?we also have a complete range of sterling silver dog tags in stock.'? If you make the words ?sterling silver dog tags' (also a keyword phrase) into a clickable link, people will naturally be able to follow that link without looking for the page elsewhere. The search engine spiders can also follow it in a similar fashion.

This brings into play our final area to look at - which is the need to have a user friendly site.

A comprehensive site map will help in this respect, but you need to make sure that people can easily find what they are looking for when they need it. People are basically impatient online, and if they can't find what they want in double quick time they are likely to leave and go elsewhere.

Make sure there are plenty of logical links to everything they may need or want. Use a clear navigation bar on every page and insert clickable links in the text wherever it would help, as described above. Think about what kind of information might be missing as well, and work on providing it as quickly as possible.

The most important thing to remember is that ultimately you must please the people your website is aimed at - and that's the surfing public. All of the above search engine optimization techniques will take nothing but time and a little knowledge to perform, but in the final analysis your website must satisfy its audience in order to be a real success.

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