Search engine optimization is the art of creating a website that calls attention to itself by having something worthwhile to show an audience of internet searching users. Calling that attention is a mixed game of making the search engines notice your website and index it to their listings because of its content, structure and keywords (within limits) and of making readers then go on to boost your site’s popularity even further by visiting it frequently, sharing it through other websites or linking to your site through their own websites. In essence, this is what all your efforts are going to be dedicated to; getting it to happen and sustaining it for the long run. Since you want sustainability, the most important SEO tactics are those that create value over the long run.

Top 10 SEO Tips

1. Pick Your Niche Carefully

You can own a website that doesn’t belong to a specific niche but it will make promotion and SEO quite a bit more difficult. Broadly themed topics are inevitably going to encroach on a number of highly competitive niches simultaneously and handling successful SEO campaigns across such a wide spectrum is going to be very, very hard. Your best bet is to pick one or two more narrowly defined niches and research them until you have an excellent knowledge of their main keywords, key phrases and specific themes.

2. Research Your Keywords Carefully

Once you have a niche for your website, start researching your primary and long tail keywords or phrases. Long tail keywords are those that are connected to your niche but not quite as directly as your main words. Use free online tools like Google’s Adwords Keyword Research to find the best keywords and phrases for your website and its content.

3. Your Most Important SEO is in Content

That’s right, since the main reason most people visit a website is to admire its content, it’s also where your best SEO efforts need to be invested. Of course, this doesn’t mean stuffing your text with so many keywords and phrases that it just comes across as unnatural. Instead, what you should do is create detailed, uniquely conceptualized and highly informative content about your particular niche. This will naturally contain plenty of keywords that get your site indexed and naturally attract continued reader attention that keeps your site moving upwards in the rankings.

4. Optimize your Pages

In order to optimize your web pages themselves, carefully craft Meta descriptions for each page (the words that go under a headline in search listings on Google and other engines) that fit its content. Also make sure that the URL of every single one of your pages is unique and contains a brief two or three word description of what the page is about. Also add descriptive text tags to any images on your website. In addition to these things, interlink your pages in an organized hierarchical or web-like structure. This means that every single one of your pages should be accessible from at least several other pages through text based links (see point 5).

5. Avoid using Flash and image based Text

When you’re building the content and navigation menus for your website, avoid as much as possible the use of flash and images-as-text. Search engines index and rank websites by sending out what are called “search spiders” –connected to a search engine algorithm that crawl through websites via text based navigation and index all of their pages by clicking through internal links (This is why point four stressed the importance of connecting all of your website pages together thoroughly). These spiders cannot read flash content or Image content, so if your website link menus or content are built on either of these two, you will register as a dark spot on the internet. This is exactly the opposite of what you want.

6. Include a Sitemap Application or Two

Sitemaps provide yet another means of crawling through your web pages easily, for both humans and search bots from the search engines. Your website should absolutely have a site map installed on it, maybe even a couple of them for differing compatibilities. This applies especially if you have an eCommerce store with hundreds of product pages. Some excellent sitemaps apps that you or your programmer could place on the site include: RSS Feed, XML or URL List. A link to your sitemap should be placed somewhere visible on every single page of your website; naturally, the link should also be written in text.

7. Update your site with Fresh, Relevant Content Frequently

Your website can become stale and start sinking in the search engines if it does not include periodic additions of fresh, well written and informative content. If you own a business website, it might be a very, very good idea to attach a blog page to it. You can use your blog to entice customers, create a brand reputation, personal reputation and as a forum for regular content updates within your niche. Any blog or posts should have a link to your regular website and business services or products.

8. Link Building

Make a concentrated effort to create inbound, embedded links to your website from other pages on the internet that are also of high quality, relevant to your niche and not connected to spam, porn or malware. You can build links by offering to guest post on other sites, spreading links to your content through the social networks in the hope that they get distributed by interested fans on their own websites, and by commenting regularly and informatively on the blogs of others in your niche, causing them to take interest in what you have to say or offer and backlinking to your content eventually. This is a link building strategy that’s organic and doesn’t involve SEO spam.

9. Avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques

Keep your SEO honest and stop worrying about being punished by the search engines. Use the other 9 steps shown here to slowly grow your SEO instead of constantly shifting gears with the latest black hat SEO spam that the search engines forbid under penalty of deranking.

10. Focus on your Human Readers, not the Search Engines

As a final step, keep in mind that everything your website is about should be focused on human interest and human clients. Craft your content and plan your SEO with them in mind, not the machines and algorithms behind the search engines. The human fans you find will be there to support you regardless of any future search algorithm changes.

About the author: Mary Walters is an award winning freelance writer with years of experience in the business and marketing industry. When she’s not busy covering promotions marketing companies , she enjoys chasing her dream of competing in a triathlon.