SEO Refresher 2

Steps You Can Take To Improve Your SEO (continued)

2. Where you have images on your site, always include an alt tag.
The HTML code for including an image in your page has an optional attribute called the ‘alt’ tag. It’s short for ‘alternative text’. It was originally intended as a text description to aid viewers surfing with images turned off, or vision-impaired surfers who use a screen reader so they could get an idea of what an image was about, since they couldn’t see it. But search engines also use the alt tag to find out more about what your page is about.

You want the alt tag to contain keywords relevant to your site and the image they are describing. Instead of just putting “header” in the alt tag for your header image, use the opportunity to tell the search engines what your site is about, with something like “Affiliate marketing? Header”, if your site is about affiliate marketing .

Don’t over do it though, you want this description to be concise rather than stuffed with every keyword relevant to your site. Here’s a good reference for learning more about image tags:

3. Use header tags wisely.
The header tags H1, H2, H3 etc. are used by search engines to figure out what the important keywords for your site are. You can easily change the appearance of the header tags by using stylesheets, so try to use the standard HTML header tags instead of custom styles for your headers. Then just make sure you’ve got relevant keywords in the headers. The H1 header should contain the primary keyword for your page, the H2 header should contain the secondary keywords for your page, etc.

4. Get backlinks with relevant keywords.
Get backlinks. Get lots of them. This should be an ongoing part of your SEO. The more backlinks the better, but you want to grow your backlinks naturally.

It’s better if you work on getting a handful of backlinks every week than if you suddenly got 10,000 backlinks overnight because you bought them from a link farm. The search engines are watching for these unnatural patterns, and you are likely to be penalized for engaging in such practices.

There are many ways to get backlinks. You can develop relationships with other webmasters to get traditional reciprocal links from other related sites. Participate in forums related to your topic and be sure to have a link to your site as part of your ‘signature’. Write articles for article directories which include a link back to your site in the ‘bio box’.

Create Squidoo lenses or HubPages with a link back to your site. If you have a blog submit your RSS feed to RSS Aggregator sites, and add it to your Squidoo lens or HubPage.

Use Social Bookmarking services to bookmark your pages and encourage your visitors to do the same. Use Twitter to send out a ‘tweet’ when you post a new article. This is just to get you started; it’s not an exhaustive list by any means.

Now that you have some ideas for where to get backlinks, it’s important that you choose good anchor text for your backlinks when you can. The anchor text is the text that turns into the hyperlink (it’s often blue, sometimes underlined). The search engines also use this text to figure out what your site, or page, is about. So where you can, specify what the anchor text will be.

You want to use your main keywords, and variations on your main keywords. Try to vary it a little (that looks natural), while still keeping it relevant of course. Keep in mind that the keywords you use when you are linking to a specific page are not necessarily going to be the same as when you are linking to your homepage.

In some cases you don’t have the option of specifying the anchor text. But don’t miss the opportunity to specify it where you can. If you trade reciprocal links with another site, specify what you want your anchor text to be.

The other webmaster will probably appreciate it because it saves them time having to decide what it should be. When you create Squidoo lenses and HubPages, or forum signatures, you have total control over your anchor text. Use it wisely.

We’ve covered just a few basic, but very important, aspects of SEO in this article. This is a very good place to start if you want to improve your site’s search engine optimization. Keep applying these techniques until it becomes second nature and you should see an improvement in both your search engine rankings and an increase in the traffic to your site.

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