David “Otto” Rahmel, Chief Research Officer and EVP of Search Engine Optimization at The Search Agency , is an internationally recognized expert in SEO and video search. He was recently quoted in iMediaConnection on the topic of “How to Avoid SEO Failure.” In the article , he discusses the importance of using Google Webmaster Tools  to evaluate your site and optimizing link text to improve your organic rankings.
I asked Otto to share some best practices for anyone looking to improve their site’s organic search rankings.
SEO Quick Tips from Otto
Tip #1: Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools . Knowledge is power.
When you sign up, Google will ask you to put a snippet of code on your Home Page, or put a blank file with a specific name in the root directory of your web site, to prove that you own the site. After confirmation, the data that Google provides is invaluable. The tools will tell you what keywords you are ranking for, which keywords are driving traffic to your site, which pages are in the Google index, who is linking to you, if there are problems on your site, etc… You can monitor your progress over time.
Tip #2: Include Keyword Phrases in your Titles and Descriptions.
The Title Tag of the page is what the search engines will use as the Blue Link Text in the search results and the Meta Description of each page is what the search engines will use as the paragraph of text underneath the link in the search results. These two pieces of text are the most important pieces of content when the search engines are trying to determine which keyword phrase a page should rank for. If you want to rank for the keyword phrase ‘strawberry jam’ then the search engines are going to be looking for those words in your Title and Description. You can check a page’s Title and Meta Description by going to the ‘View’ menu in your browser and pick ‘Source’ in Internet Explorer or ‘Page Source’ in Mozilla. Look in the code for what is between <title> and </title> as well as what is in the Content section of the Meta Description tag <meta name=”description” content=”Look Here”> Update your page Titles and Descriptions to include the Keyword Phrases that you would like each page to rank for.
Tip #3: Use Keyword Phrases in Your Link Text.
When you link from one page to another, the search engines use the words in the Link Text (often blue and underlined) to determine which Keyword Phrase to look for in the content of the page that the link is going to. Is the keyword that you want to rank for ‘More’, ‘Next Page’, ‘Click Here’, etc…? Probably not. Link to your ‘strawberry jam’ page with the Link Text ‘strawberry jam’. The search engines will confirm that ‘strawberry jam’ appears in the Title, Description and body content of the page that you are linking to and award the page with rankability. Once the search engines determine your page is eligible to rank for a keyword, how high it ranks is based on the amount of competition for the term and how much of an expert your site appears to be on the topic.
Tip #4: Use Keyword Phrases in Your Page Names.
Having keywords in Link Text is an important way for search engines to determine which Keyword Phrase a page should be ranked for. A large percentage of links to pages use the URL as the Link Text. If your page URL is www.domain.com/1/2.html, and someone posts a link to the page in a blog using the URL as the Link Text, there isn’t much for the search engines to use to determine a keyword. But, if your page URL is www.domain.com/strawberryjam/ or www.domain.com/strawberryjam.html, and someone posts a link in a blog, then the search engines can pass rankability on to your page for the keywords that they have found in the Link Text. Check your page names and update them to include the Keyword Phrase that your page content is focused on so you can get the Link Text bonus when people link to you.
Otto has gotten us started with his top 4. Use the comment field below to add the best practices any aspiring Webmaster should have in their toolbox, and we’ll re-publish this post as a Top-10 List.
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