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On Page SEO for Beginners

Beginner On-Page SEO

Most people who put up websites on their own, such as small business owners and individuals that have great ideas, don't necessarily thing of Search Engine Optimization while building the website. Many of us are just learning, and have no idea what SEO is either.

I Have a Website, but where do I start with Search Engine Optimization?

SEO as a whole is a very daunting endeavor. It takes months to fully optimize a site on your own, and that's why the SEO companies do very good business. In this brief article, I just want to reiterate some of the points that I went over last month during our Joomla Detroit user group meeting.

Server Response

This is a critical part of web site building. Period. It is not an area to skimp and try and save a few pennies on. Choosing a "budget" host may save you a little, but if you happen to get a low power host, or one that goes down frequently, Google and Bing aren't going to give you the time of day. (Joomla Detroit is hosted on LiquidWeb.com, a Lansing-based Hosting company that's done really well for us!)

Website Speed

The faster your site loads is a factor with Google. If two sites were identical, but one loaded in two seconds, the other in four, you know which one would rank higher!


That is, links on your site in the content that point to other parts of the same site (not externally, to another site) Very important when building relevance and credibility (just look at Wikipedia... lots of links to other Wikipedia pages on every page). Loading two to four links in the first two paragraphs can carry a lot of weight!

Broken Links are Baaaaaad!!!

The search bots crawl your site and follow every visible link. You definitely do not want them arriving at an "Error 404" page or any other dead link. Google will detract 404's from your website's overall score. Check for error 404's using this tool: http://validator.w3.org/checklink or this: http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/broken-links.php

Canonical URLs

Duplicate content is bad, especially if it's on the same site. The use of canonical tags is imperative to get rid of this problem, and Anything-Digital's "SH404SEF Extension" does this for you automatically: http://anything-digital.com

HTML Errors

Check for html errors, bad JavaScript and CSS. All of these can hurt your rank if done wrong. Check every post you create using the W3C markup validation service here: http://validator.w3.org/. Check CSS here: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/. Just type in the URL of the newly published post and see what needs to be fixed

Your UNIQUE Content still is King!

Having unique content, lots of it and updated frequently is going to be your best optimization! Every page you write has the potential to be the next big landing page that people see when searching. There are certain things that you have to watch out for, though:

Keyword in URL and Title

If I wanted to do better when people search "Baby Stroller with shock absorbers" I would definitely want to have the words "Baby stroller" and "Shock absorbers" in both the URL and Title. E.g.: "mydomain.com/category/best-baby-strollers-shock-absorbers" and the title: "5 Best Baby Strollers that have Shock Absorbers"

Related Keyword as the Category

Your category title should be closely related to the page and URL keywords. In the above example, I'd probably use "transportation" as my category.

Anchor Text for Links

Most CMS and blogs use your article title as the H1 header. If you make sure that your keywords are in the title, then they should be in the H1 tag by default as well (Joomla and Word press do this by default, but the functionality is Template dependent).

Images should have keywords in both filename and in the alt tag

Renaming your images with related words and your main keywords in the (alt="keyword here") alt tag also contribute to relevancy

Number of times Keywords show up in your article

It is a good rule of thumb that your keywords only show up as 3-5% of the total article content. You can also use related words and phrases to bolster your keywords.

Content above the fold

Having over 60% of the article content above the fold (the place where the screen cuts off the article on the bottom) is essential. If most of the article is below, consider shrinking your header image, logo or anything else that's pushing your content down!

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