Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of guiding the development or redevelopment of a website so that it will naturally attract visitors by winning top ranking on the major search engines for selected keyword phrases.
In order to optimize your website, you need to ask yourself 3 questions:
1. How are people searching for my products and/or services?
2. Which sites are winning for those searches, and why?
3. Which searches can I win?
After you’ve identified a number of search phrases that are potentially winnable, you are ready to create a search engine optimization plan for your website.
First, review your website and determine whether you have significant content already developed that correlates closely with the keyword phrases you have identified. At a minimum, you need one page of well-written and useful content for each keyword family you have chosen. Each page should be entirely focused on exactly one keyword family. An excellent example is a page from an encyclopedia. For competitive keyword phrases, you will likely need to devote entire sections of your site to winning just one phrase.
A complete guide to search engine optimization would be book-length, and would be out of date as soon as it was published, but here are several tips for building a website with search engine optimization in mind:
1. Every page on your site must have a unique HTML title tag, meta keywords tag, and meta description tag.
2. Follow W3C recommendations for HTML document structure. Begin the body copy of your page with your keyword phrase, and repeat it as needed as the theme of the page throughout your copy. Feature your keyword phrase prominently by including it in headers and making it bold or italics.
3. Use text navigation on your site, and use the keyword phrases you have selected as the links. If you cannot use text navigation, include a footer on every page using text links.
4. Build a text site map, and link to it from every page of your site.
5. Organize your navigation according to the importance of your keyword phrases. If you break your site into many pages, link to the most important pages from every page of your site, and link to the other pages from section header pages and the site map.
6. Establish your site by submitting to the major directories, The Open Directory and the Yahoo! Directory, then build your link popularity by submitting to web directories, search engines, and requesting links from related websites.
7. Be patient. A search engine optimization project can take quite some time to work.
For Google’s suggestions on search engine optimization, see Google Information for Webmasters – Webmaster Guidelines.