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Cheap Search Engine Optimization

Cheap SEOBefore you hire an “SEO specialist” to optimize your site, make sure you’re doing all the quick and easy fixes that make for cheap search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization isn’t an exact science — at least not to site owners. Google wants to display the most relevant content to the given search. Bloggers simply want the traffic from showing up high in the search engine results pages (SERPS). And sometimes those two goals are at odds with each other. Google doesn’t publish their results algorithm and they change it often both to make it better and to keep people from gaming the system. So search is mostly a matter of trial and error and experience. And there is always ongoing debate about what works and how important it really is.

But there are some basic steps you can take to ethically increase your chances of showing up in the SERPS for relevant searches — snd most of them occur while creating each post. In my experience, the following 10 SEO tips are the easiest, most basic, and cheapest methods of optimizing your blog posts for search engines.

Do Keyword Research

What search terms will be used by those looking for this blog post? While I’ll admit that keyword research is actually a huge, complex topic, you can at least begin to think about what readers will be looking for and try to focus your posts on phrases that might be used to search for them.

Since basic SEO depends upon having a solid understanding of what keywords are and how they work, this is the place to spend some time. The best tool I’ve found for this is Market Samurai. It’s easy to use and reliable and you can download a free trial. (It’s available on both Mac and PC!)

The free tutorials are very helpful for beginners and really explain in depth what to look for in quality keywords.

Use Keywords in the Title Tag

Once you know the keywords you’re targeting, use them in the post title.

Use Keywords in URL

Formerly called the “post slug,” simply use more of the same keywords in the end of the URL.

Thesis makes this simple. Just enter the words you want to use in the Permalink field just under the title field. I like to use the main keywords separated by hyphens, leaving out common words like “the” or “and.”

Focused & Updated Content

Your content shouldn’t just be about the keywords, it should contain the keywords. Try to use variances of the keywords to total around two to three percent of the content. Keep posts on topic and related when possible.

Download a free report explaining how to create compelling content that ranks well in search engines. Read it. Follow it.

Regularly updating your blog with quality posts will teach the search engines that they need to crawl your site regularly for new content. Keep them coming back!

Use Keywords in Categories

Keywords used as category names reinforces the keywords.

Use Keywords in Tags

Always tag your posts and include important keywords. This also makes it easier for browsers to find something they are interested in.

Use Meta Descriptions

In the Edit Post window in Thesis, there is section just below the content field called SEO Details and Additional Style.” This optional area has great stuff. The custom title tag will show up as the linked title in SERPS and the meta description will be the descriptive paragraph after the title in Google. Put keywords here and a great descriptions to draw readers in.

[Note: I haven’t bothered with Meta Keywords for years now. Google stopped using them in it’s algorithm due to abuse, so I don’t think it’s worth your time. Instead, spend an extra minute writing good content.]

Use Header Tags Appropriately

Your title will be given an H1 tag. Use other tags (H2, H3, etc.) to appropriate subdivide your post. In the “visual” content input method, this is done easily with the Paragraph drop-down menu. The words in the titles and subtitles are deemed relevant and important to your post.

Internal Links

Link to your posts — using keyword anchor text — from other posts on your blog. Interlinking old blog posts not only helps with SEO, but helps readers find other posts on topics they are interested and keeps them on your site longer.

Note that Day #8 in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is all about internal linking!

Create a Sitemap

A sitemap is simply a list of accessible pages on a web site. Back in the day, these had to be created manually and were time consuming and easily outdated. Now, they can be created automatically. I use a free plugin called Google XML Sitemaps that makes it easier for search engines to crawl your entire site.

Good luck with managing basic SEO functions. This is the first step to getting the results rank that will get your traffic flowing.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Norm October 27, 2010, 2:21 am

    This is going to sound dumb, but how do you set categories and what’s the difference between categories and tags?

    Thanks for helping the newbies!

  • Alison Moore Smith October 27, 2010, 3:10 am

    Norm, fellow night owl!

    It’s not a dumb question at all! Learn to create categories and tags in WordPress and you’ll also learn about the differences between the two. 🙂

  • CarnieD October 27, 2010, 10:06 am

    Thank you for a clear resource. I keep hearing about SEO but it’s pretty confusing!

  • Jerry October 27, 2010, 3:04 pm

    My friend sent me this link this morning when he got frustrated trying to explain how to start with SEO. Now it makes sense. Thanks.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 27, 2010, 3:24 pm

    Jerry, so glad this was helpful! Nothing better fora blogger than to learn that you actually wrote something that was read and was helpful. Woot!

  • WorkFirst October 28, 2010, 1:21 am

    I decided to download the trial for Market Samurai yesterday just to try it out. I learned so much already in just a couple of hours that I bought it. It’s so easy.

    Like you said, I recommend that people watch the vids after they download it. Everything is explained really well. Now I can finally start really getting my blog going and stable.

    But I know that getting traffic and better search results isn’t going to happen all at once. It’s a process.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 6, 2010, 1:29 am

    WorkFirst, spot on. So glad you found it helpful. I think you’ll be amazed at how much you learn.

  • Leo November 25, 2010, 11:45 am

    The “problem” is that the most important – and most time consuming – part of SEO is link-building, so on-page optimisation is never the be-all and end-all of search engine optimisation.

    The 3 most important aspects you mentioned are keyword research, title tag and internal linking -> these are the ones to concentrate on, espcially creating internal links from within the main body of the copy (not site-wide footer links which can get devalued).

    If you blog about specific products, image optimisation (image name, alt and page “theming”) can also drive a lot of visits.
    Read Leo’s inCREDible post…Web Design for Hair SalonMy Profile

  • Joel December 14, 2010, 12:30 am

    Alison, basically you pointed out all stuff that’s required for on-page optimization correct? The same thing you mentioned can be done quite well with “website auditor tool” of link-assistant or from freeseoreport.com website too.

  • sriram December 14, 2010, 7:03 am

    Informative article. May be h3 heading should be colored related to website color.

    I think you use sexy bookmarks plugin. It is messy and show dots. Is there any way we resolve this.
    Read sriram’s inCREDible post…5 Tips to find top payday loans providersMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2010, 8:30 pm

    Hi sriram. Not sure I understand your comment. There are no H3 tags in this post. What post/site are you referring to? Also, are you having trouble with Sexy Bookmarks? If you could give me some more info, I’ll try to help.

  • Jessa from search engine optimisation December 30, 2010, 12:46 pm

    It is necessary to know the seo provider first before dealing with it. You don’t have to be very stingy just to save a few amount. SEO is just all about consistency and doing the correct white hat things.
    Stay away from the dark side and work hard at your onsite optimization and link building, and you will see success.
    Of course proper keyword research is essential too.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 30, 2010, 2:49 pm

    Yup. Basic keyword stuff is simple and should be automatic once you understand it.

  • MSD February 18, 2011, 7:03 pm

    Internet marketing is an open wide opportunity for businesses. Creating a quality links is a strong foundation in SEO. Inbound links is powerful.

  • Tim Ryan November 1, 2011, 1:58 am

    There are a lot of cheap, even free, SEO strategies available. It’s advised that before one goes to invest in a paid SEO service, it’s important that all the basics and the fundamentals (these are usually done for free) are understood first, if not mastered. This allows for better judgement in deciding on what SEO service to invest on.
    Read Tim Ryan’s inCREDible post…Title InsuranceMy Profile

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