If you are new to search engine optimization (SEO), here are a few tips to keep you on the right track.
Save time: focus on Google and Bing
There are dozens of search engines. Don’t try to optimize for all of them. Go with Google and Microsoft’s Bing, the search engines that boast 95% of search traffic, and ignore the remaining 5%. As of August 2012, Google has nearly 70% of the search market share, while Bing (which also powers Yahoo!) has about 25%. The remaining 5% slice is fought over by Ask, AOL, and a host of lesser engines. Thus, just study Google and Bing and ignore the rest.
Avoid SEO “black hat” scams
There is a right way and a wrong way to implement SEO. Doing it the wrong way will actually get your site punished by the major search engines, and they will intentionally lower your rankings. When seeking out expertise on search engine optimization, be on the lookout for dubious SEO companies that make grand promises like landing you as the number one spot in Google results without explaining how, for instance, this will be accomplished. We recommend that you read Google’s discussion of this pitfall to get a general sense of what to watch out for.
Keywords, keywords, keywords
Did we mention keywords? Keywords are the words and phrases that users actually type into the Google or Bing search box. They are the currency of search engines, the heart and soul of how they work, and the only way that your website will appear in their listings. Therefore, the golden rule of SEO is to match the words used in your content to the keywords that your target audience types into search engines. How do you know what words and phrases people are using? Fortunately, Google provides a fabulous tool for doing this essential homework: Google AdWords Keyword Search. You can test out a search phrase and Google will tell how many times the phrase was searched for, and suggest better alternate phrasing. You can even drill-down to different past time windows, countries, and devices from which the phrase was searched.