Non-Techies Intro to Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Or How to Make Your Site Rank Better

First things first, before we can begin to discuss what needs to be changed to make your site more SEO friendly it might be a good idea to get a firm grounding on just what SEO is and what it means to a site. The all-knowing Wikipedia describes SEO as:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it “ranks”, the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

Ok so basically SEO is the art and the science behind getting our sites to place as high as possible in the results returned by a search engine. Easy enough to understand right? The concept is easy the practice can be a bit daunting. Don’t worry though, I promise not to use any really technical jargon or get off on a long tangent about internal linking strategies, site structure or anything of the sort. SEO is all about making your site as appealing to the search engines as it is to your more human visitors.

How does site code affect SEO?

You know all those awesome themes we see as we cruise the Internet. Themes that just make you smack yourself and say, I wish I had picked that for my theme! Why do they appeal to you? As humans we are rather visual. If something has nice lines, pretty colors, and flows well we like it. It is appealing to our eyes. Well search engine spiders have eyes too, of a sort. The more appealing your site is to a spider the more likely it is to crawl through it and the more likely your site is to place high in the search results.

Ok but how do you make a site appealing to a spider? Well first off spiders are a bit finicky, kind of like cats. When they visit your site they read the code for your page and look for some rather specific things. While we look for pictures and colors they look for meta tags which are pieces of code that tell a spider information about the page. Such as a page’s description and certain keywords that describe that page. If they find what they are looking for it is store in their database and they keep searching the code for other things such as other links which they can follow. If not they will search the code a bit more then move on to the next page on their list. Obviously we want them to keep searching our pages versus moving on to someone else’s.

This is where the site code comes in. A large number of template makers develop themes that are appealing to humans and just do the bare minimum when it comes to making it appealing to spiders. They have some of what the spiders want but not everything so the spiders are tempted to look at the page, but then they lose interest and move on. So the page gets put into the search engine’s database but it doesn’t get all the attention, and therefore the highest ranking, that it could. But don’t worry all is not lost! We can rebuild the themes to make them more spider friendly!

What can a non-techie person do?

If you use WordPress to power your sites then you are in luck. If not, then my suggestion is to start using it. One of the greatest things about WordPress is the almost endless array of plugins which are available. There are plugins to do just about anything, including make your site more appealing to spiders. Specifically the plugin, All In One SEO Pack. Now this isn’t the only one out there, indeed there are several, but this is the one I use and I can highly recommend it.

Installation couldn’t be easier and it works great right out of the box, no configuration necessary. Just upload it, extract, and activate. The plugin takes care of creating the meta tags the robots are looking for all you have to do is keep doing what you have been doing, creating really great content. Of course there are options you can change on the plugin but even if you don’t change a thing your pages will start appealing more to the spiders and that should get you higher in the ranking.

So there you have it, a quick intro into SEO, an explanation of how your site code affects your SEO and even a recommendation on how to fix it. If you do nothing else but read this post and install a SEO plugin you will be better off than a large number of sites, but it doesn’t have to end there. Like I said at the beginning, SEO is an art and a science which means there is always more to learn, more to experiment with and more to share.

Should you want to learn more then I would suggest starting with the sites I have listed in the recommended sites section. They are some of the best I have found I will definitely answer most if not all of your questions. Of course you can feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer your question if I can, or find the answer so both of us will know. Thanks for reading and I hope you found it useful.

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