Tips to Great SEO

This is a VERY old post from 2010. It’s here for archival purposes, but it may be inaccurate now.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the art of presenting a site in such a way that a search engine can read it easily. Good SEO also helps with social networking and bookmarking sites like Digg and Facebook

All of the above depend on basic head tags, like a meta description, and page title. Note though, that having these two items is never enough…Unless of course your targeted keywords are extraordinarily unique.

Pre-Site Considerations

  • What 10 keywords do you want to target? (Narrow this down to seven, and don’t include “ands, buts, ifs” and so on.
  • If the site is only about one topic, consider trying to work the word(s) into the domain name.
  • Perform a “Phone Test.” Call a friend, and speak the domain name (without spelling it out) and see if they can understand and spell it.

Having this information is essential, as you’ll know from the beginning what audience you’re trying to target, as well as constructing a memorable and brand-able domain name.

Header Tags

Header Tags, seen in code as <h1> through <h6>, not only draw the attention of your readers to important paragraphs, but also help search engines evaluate how relevant your webpage is.

When using header tags, follow these guidelines:

  • <h1> – This is the largest-sized header tag. Use this for the sole title of your webpage. This tag should only occur once per page, however is a must for every page.
  • <h2> – Coming in second largest, this tag highlights sub-discussions on a page similar to chapters in a book. You can use this tag as much as you’d like, but make sure to use at least one per page.
  • <h3-h6> – Also useful, however not as powerful in terms of SEO as the previous two header tags.
  • If header tags are too ugly by themselves, you can style them with CSS, Cufon (defunct, use webfonts), or use image replacement techniques.

Be Unique!

Just like us humans, search engine crawlers hate having to view more than one link with the same information on it.

Whether you’re moving from one site to another, or simply using URL Rewriting, make sure there’s no content replication. This means protecting your copyrights and keeping them to only one page on the internet.

Note that sharing the page on social networks isn’t bad, just make sure they’re not copying the entire article, only linking back to you.

Stay at Home

There’s not many sites out there that don’t link off of their local site. Make sure you have the highest percentage of “local links” per-page. It’s okay to link to other pages on your own site, but off site linking is no good.

To link offsite, make sure to include the rel='nofollow' attribute in the anchor tags, and optionally target='_blank to make the link open in a new window or tab.

Additionally, try to keep your total links (onsite and off) under 100 per page.

Blogging Service

If you’re really serious about blogging, consider opening your own site. When people link to your subdomain blog (i.e., the pagerank actually goes to, not to your page per-say.

Consider this information before you get too in-depth on a blogging site.

Use HTTP Redirects when required

Whenever you use a page, make sure to use the proper 3xx code to point both visitors and search engines to the new page. You can accomplish this a multitude of ways, including your httpd.conf, .htaccess, and even server-side scripts, like the PHP example below:

header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");

Properly using redirects will result in the search engine transferring the old page’s pagerank to the new site.

  • 300 – Multiple Choices
  • 301 – Moved Permanently
  • 302 – Found
  • 303 – See Other
  • 304 – Not Modified
  • 305 – Use Proxy
  • 306 – No Longer Used
  • 307 – Temporary Redirect

Generally, you’ll only use codes 301 and 302 to redirect users.

Go Big, or Go Home

The implementation of a successful SEO campaign is a large undertaking. It may require you to rewrite your entire site, or just a small portion. Most all changes you make to help SEO will affect it, sometimes even negatively. For example, moving pages to a new search-engine friendly URL, changing entire layout, or modifying keywords.

Consider how the changes might affect your current pagerank before the implementation is done. It’s better to lose all your pagerank, and have an SEO powerhouse, than creating a few small changes without a large, overall benefit.

Layout Considerations

Beyond simply using header tags, the entire site should consist of a CSS-styled layout. Using <div> tags instead of tables will aid in the parsing of your site, for both search engines and social networks. This also factors in how well the site is built, see “design considerations” below.

Design Considerations

Validate all your code and test it in all browsers. XHTML/HTML and CSS are key for not only presentation to multiple browsers (which helps you get linked to, improving page rank), but also allows the search engines to parse the page better.

Use the alt= attribute for images wherever possible, since search engine bots are text-only. This will allow them to rank the page correctly, and also allow them to associate the image with a query in image searches (should you allow them).

Submit your site!

Don’t wait for the search engines to find you, let them know you’re available to do business! Several companies will say “Get listed in Search Engines Today!” and charge you some crazy fee to get listed in 100’s of search engines.

Truth is, it takes a while for you to get listed (up to a month, usually), and it costs you nothing to get on them. Lastly, most of the search engine sites use the major search engine’s directories for results, so if you submit your site to the big guys, you’ll eventually be found in the small search engines nobody uses.

Below are a few links for major search engine’s submission links:

Telling Search Engines What You’re About

Of course header tags help search engines create an outline of your site, but how do you get results like this:

Tips to Great SEO : Robert Lerner Want the number 1 spot on search engines? Follow these SEO
(Search Engine Optimization) guidelines to get your site up there! Cached | Similar

Using proper head constructs is the only way. The link portion: “Tips to Great SEO” is the page title specified with the <title /> tag. The text directly underneath (which reads like an advertisement, doesn’t it?) is simply in the description of the page.

<meta name="keywords" content="Robert Lerner search, engine, optimization, seo, tips, considerations" />
<meta name="description" content="Want the number 1 spot on search engines? Follow these SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guidelines to get your site up there!" />
<meta name="robots" content="index,follow" />
<title>Tips to Great SEO : Robert Lerner</title>
(CSS, JS, Language, and other meta tags here)

Above, you can see how this page has its head tag designed. Using the robots attribute, I’m allowing search engines to index (i.e. crawl) all my pages, and follow all links (with exception to links with the rel='nofollow' attribute.

You must have this for a search engine to successfully crawl your site and assign pagerank.

The keywords attribute, obviously, is the targeted keywords for the page. Do note, however, that crawlers will not give your page any special consideration because of these keywords, and will most likely do a frequency analysis of the words, and the words in the document, to assess whether or not the keywords are of value to the database.

Finally, the title tag, and description attribute both control the search engine’s presentation for your content when searched.

Determining your pagerank / visibility

  • – Using Google, you can see what pages are in their index for your site. At the time of this writting, this site has 85 pages in Google’s index.
  • Using a plethora of pagerank checkers, you can assess your pagerank with Google and other search engines. These range from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest). A page rank of 3-6 is generally normal, however depends on the size of the site. Do note that these checkers aren’t “scientific”, and don’t analyse a specific keyword’s value on your site, and as such are relatively useless except for patting yourself on the back.

SEO Tools

Mozilla Firefox has several SEO add-ons to assist you in verifying that you’re on the right path to SEO Success.

I recommend:

  • SEO Doctor – Provides a quick overview of the sites “rating”, and tells you what you can do to improve it.
  • SenSEO (Requires Firebug) – A more comprehensive SEO scanner.


Thank you for reading the article, and hopefully it helps you on getting to the top. I do plan on expanding this as issues are brought to my attention, and also adding as times change. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

2023 Update: Most information about SEO is wrong, and SEO is a pretend field. When I posted this, I had read every article and patent filing that I could find to figure out what to share. I never made it big either. That said, there’s tools in Chrome and Firefox to help optimize things that will knock your site, but I have doubts anything contained here is really valid anymore.






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