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What's the big deal with SEO?

There isn’t a hotter term of the moment right now than SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you are unfamiliar with the term, SEO is just a set of “best practices” to get your site to play nice with search engines (read “Google”). The idea is to get your website ranked on that oh-so-coveted first page of rankings.

There are entire companies devoted to SEO that can all but guarantee a top ranking for you. However, you’ll find that the basics of SEO are something you can easily employ on your own. Here is a list of a few things you can do to tackle that SEO itch so you can brag about your site being, like, totally optimized.

  1. Links - There really is no secret to this one, but it’s generally underrated how important it actually is. Google has made a gazillion dollars by being the first to give weight to links from other sites. The idea is that the only way to count “votes” for a sites popularity is if a site is linked from somewhere else. The assumption is that you would only link to another site if you wanted somebody to click that link because there’s something interesting behind it. So the good and bad news is that all you have to do is get your site linked in thousands of places to be popular. Easy if you, say, are breaking the news that Brittney is getting back together with K.Fed. A little more nuanced if you’re actually trying to get your brand out there.
  2. Text Based Navigation and Content - This may sound obvious, but if search engines can’t see your text, you’re hosed. This comes into play when you’re planning your redesign and just absolutely cannot do without your site having all sorts of animation and slick transitions and fancy rollover tricks. These look great, and everyone loves them, but with current technologies there isn’t a way to do this without Flash or equivalent. And why is that a bad thing? It’s not if you don’t care about search engines, but if you do, then there’s some bad news for Flash fans… for the most part, whatever is done in Flash is completely invisible to search engines. Same goes for image based navigation.
  3. Meta Tags - Remember 1997? Yeah, well so do search engines, and just like you’re not the same person you were a decade ago, neither are they. Meta tags are still very important for descriptions. That’s the little block of info that appears beneath your title in rankings. Keywords are definitely still necessary to help search engines figure out what you’re hocking, but their importance for rankings are greatly diminished.
   
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Billy is a web developer and Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Sitemason, and has been with the company since 2006.  Read more about Billy White.

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