Coding with Jesse

5 Basic Search Engine Optimization Tips

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has grown into an entire industry. There are tons of companies who do nothing except help web sites rank high on Google or get lots of search engine traffic. Most of these companies charge a lot for their services. I'm going to outline a few simple things you can do to your own site for free. This isn't a complete list of things you can do, but you can do very well on search engines by following all of these.

  1. Use a strong title

    Probably the most important place on the page for search engines is the <title>. Rather than cram a thousand keywords in your titles, try to keep them simple and to the point. Describe the contents of the page in plain language. For example, I titled this page "5 Basic Search Engine Optimization Tips" rather than "SEO For Dummies" or something else tricky.

  2. Pay attention to the URL

    The worst URLs for search engines are like "". It's much better to use "". Do everything you can to get the same keywords into the actual URL of your page. Also, make sure you separate the words by a dash "-" instead of an underscore "_". Google sees a dash as a space but sees words attached with an underscore as one big word.

  3. Use header tags appropriately

    Use <h1>, <h2>, etc. whenever you can. Don't use them to increase the font size, use them to mark your titles. Doing so tells search engines that these words describe the page or section of the page. So be sure to put good descriptive keywords into these tags. This will increase the page's relevance to those keywords.

  4. Keep all the words in the HTML

    A lot of sites have titles and navigation made up of image buttons and links. It's better to just use plain text with a background image. If you really want to put words into images, make sure you at least use the alt attribute. Also, try to put the same words in the HTML, hidden by CSS if necessary.

  5. Write good content

    This is an obvious one, yet usually forgotten. Good content will have a lot of keywords relating to the topic. By using lots of synonyms and clear descriptions, you'll give more words and phrase for the search engines to find. Even having user-generated content such as comments or reviews will give more opporunities for searchers finding the page.

Hopefully following these simple tips will help you get some more traffic. There are a hundred tips and tricks out there, but the best tip of all is to just write lots of great content and make good web pages which are useful and easy to read. The rest should come naturally.

Published on September 3rd, 2006. © Jesse Skinner

About the author

Jesse Skinner

Hi, I'm Jesse Skinner. I'm a web development coach & consultant. I teach web development teams how to scale up their server infrastructure, improve automated testing and monitoring, reduce costs, and modernize their legacy systems. I focus on empowering teams through customized training and coaching.

Feel free to email me. I'm eager to hear about your challenges and see how I can make your life easier.