How to Put SEO to Work for You

If you’ve ever wondered how Google performs its magic of returning relevant results when you type in your keywords, the answer lies in three little words: search engine optimisation, or SEO. More accurately, Google and its counterparts use algorithms to assign relevance to keywords and rank pages accordingly. Proper use of these keywords is essential to optimising your site for search engines.

Keywords Still Count, but Don’t Count Keywords
However, putting SEO to work for you is not as simple as stirring a few handfuls of high-value keywords into a document. Search engines have gotten clever enough to detect pages that contain heaps of unrelated key phrases, a practice known as keyword stuffing. Packing a site with high keyword density can even harm your site’s ranking; search engines view these pages as spam and assign them low relevance.

The ultimate goal of search engines is to behave more like human readers so they can return the most relevant results. When you see a site with unrelated keywords and thin content, you probably click away because it has little value to you. Similarly, search engines have evolved past the rudimentary concept of optimization that holds keyword density above all else when creating content. To win search engines’ love, write content your human readers will appreciate and let keywords happen naturally.

Although keywords still matter to modern SEO techniques, simple keyword counts and density percentages are not enough to rise in rankings. For that, an effective linking strategy is vital.

Linking Strategies that Work
Search engines’ algorithms assess how many other sites link to yours as a measure of its authority. Authoritative sites naturally accumulate more links; therefore, sites with more inbound links must be authoritative, or so search engines believe. As with keywords, this formula is not as simple as it appears because those links also have value based on their sources. Garnering ten or a dozen high-value links from well-ranked sites is vastly better than creating hundreds of low-value links that may even damage your site’s rank.

As with keywords, links should be a part of relevant, well-written content. Use them sparingly, and do not solicit them from link-trading ventures or spam-filled sites that search engines disdain. Possibilities for a sound back-linking strategy include:

•    Inviting other writers as guest bloggers
•    Creating white papers, e-books or other high-value content to contain links
•    Adding links in relevant message boards or crowd-sourced answer sites

SEO is more complex than well-chosen keywords and quality links. Developing niche keywords, incorporating latent semantic indexing principles and keeping content fresh are also important parts of your SEO strategy. However, understanding the basics of keyword use and quality links is at the heart of all SEO.

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