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Basic SEO – DIY SEO for free

English: Tools

English: Tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you manage a site or a blog, you probably received at least one email from an SEO company, offering you their services. But do you really need an SEO professional? If you never did any optimization on your site before, here’s the good news: there are a couple of important DIY SEO  tweaks you can do yourself – for free.  It will help your site be the most search engine-friendly it can be.

Let’s look at them in detail.

Title tag

This is the single most important factor of on-page optimization. If you are on the home page of your site with a browser like Firefox or Safari, the title tag is the text appearing at the very top, sometimes in the tab of the open page. If you look at the HTML of the page, it’s the text between the <title></title> markers.

In the Home page, the title tag is the first thing that search engines get to know about your site when they crawl it, so it has to describe what it is about in an accurate and natural way. Remember however, that only 70 characters are normally displayed in search results, so you will need ability to wordsmith it to come up with something short, descriptive and appealing.

Products page. Take a look now at the title tag of your products page: is it the same as the home page? If that’s the case, it needs to be changed. Again, search engines use the title tag to figure out what the page is about and they assume that each one has different content, hence different titles are required. To sum up: when it comes to title tags, duplicates are frowned upon, and the more specific the better. If you find it difficult to come up with a detailed title for your products page, chances are that you need to further divide them into sub-categories, and this brings us to the next important SEO factor.

More info about Title Tags on our SEO FAQ’s page.

Site structure

Search engines like sites with simple and linear structures. The assumption is: if they are easy to crawl for them, they’re easy to browse for the visitors, and user experience is paramount. As a good rule of thumb (given by Google) for DIY SEO, each page of your site should be no more than three clicks away from your Home page.  Figure it out by laying out your sitemap on paper or a mind mapping tool.

The mother of all sitemaps?

The mother of all sitemaps? (Photo credit: hungrybrowser)

Sitemap

Whenever the structure of your site makes it difficult to search engines to craw all the pages, then a sitemap will do the trick. Simply put, it’s a list of all the pages of your website: once you have it in place, the search engine will easily find every single piece of content. Especially for WordPress users, sitemaps can be easily generated and updated with the use of specific plugins.  (Leave us your favorite in the comments.)

Meta descriptions

Search results are always displayed with a description right underneath the link. These short summaries are called meta descriptions, and are the first thing users look at, when they decide if the link is worth clicking or not. Although they’re not a ranking factor (and Google will not necessarily show them in search results), if compelling and clear, meta descriptions will likely boost your click-through rate.

Use SEO Mofo’s SERP tool to check what your meta will look like in Google.

Images

Whether you sell products or services, or you simply have a blog, your site needs images. Not only because visual aids make content more interesting, but also because they have now become one of the quality signals that search engines use to separate the wheat of legit sites from the chaff of spammy content.  Google has recently introduced changes to the way images are displayed in search results, which have reduced their importance as traffic source.  However, there is a detail that remains important: the ALT tag, which is the only piece of text attached to the image, that search engines actually crawl. Although it won’t necessarily boost your rankings, a well-phrased ALT tag will be a chance to include an extra keyword in the text of the page.

Site speed limit, Canna industrial estate

Site speed limit, Canna industrial estate (Photo credit: macspite)

Speed

There is actually another important factor to take into account when it comes to images, and that’s their size, as that affects loading speed, and speed is important. Again, this is related to user experience: when we click on a link and the page takes forever to load, we tend to bounce back. There are different ways in which site speed can be improved, and some of them are quite technical, but you can start right now, by optimizing your images and making sure that the size you upload is the one you want on the page. If you upload a huge image and then let your CMS do the resizing, your server will still have to deal with the size of the original, and more pixels need more bandwidth.

That is what we recommend to everyone as some simple, free SEO tips for DIY SEO – before you hire an SEO consultant, check out these simple but important SEO tasks.

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Keyword in H1 – FAQ

The H1 tag is an HTML tag which is is used for “headers” – hence the “h”.

H1 Tag Example:

<h1>This is the best page.</h1>

H1 Tag Best Practices:

There should be one (1) and only one <h1> tag on a given webpage.  More than one, Google and other search engines will throw out your page as search SPAM.  Less than one, well – that is just not a very smart thing to do.  But either way – you must use the keyword in H1.

h1 tag

H1 Do’s:

  • Do make sure your keyword is in the H1 tag.  This is important…do not miss this step, ultimately important for SEO.
  • Do NOT have more than one H1 on a page.

What does it do?

The H1 tag is the engine of the page.  It is the place search engines go to verify the keyword it finds in the title tag.  When it finds it – it sets off through the page to see what it finds.From an SEO perspective, it is the second most important tag.

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Title Character Count – FAQ

The title tag is an HTML tag which is located in <HEAD> section of the HTML page.

Title Tag Example:

<head>
  <title>This is the example of the title tag...</title>
</head>

Title Tag Best Practices:

Officially – 70 characters or less.  Why?  Because of SEO.  It comes down to 70 characters because it is “essentially” what Google uses and has become an for an unwritten  standard for SEO types.

Example from Google of a tile tag.

Example from Google of a tile tag.

Title Tags Do’s:

  • Do make sure your keyword is in the title tag.  This is important…do not miss this step, ultimately important for SEO.
  • Keyword position – some will argue it must be at the from of the title, we feel you do what works.  One thing that works is SEO Mofo’s SERP tool – check it out and put the keyword where is works best.

What does it do?

Outside of the essential HTML tags, the title tag is the key tag in a webpage.  From the SEO perspective, it is the most important HTML tag.  You will find the <title> tag appear in two places:

Example of a title tag on the browser tab.

Example of a title tag on the browser tab.

  • Browser:
    Title Tags show up in both the top of a browsers chrome and in applicable tabs.
  • Search Result Pages:
    Title tags also show up in search engine results.
  • Note:
    Sometimes other websites will index or “store” websites title tags.  These sites may be involved in SEO or archiving, and they may also use the content between the title tags.
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Prevent Malware Hackers – 4 Tips for Protecting Your Website

Multiple racks of servers

Multiple racks of servers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

American inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” While this is a wonderful, positive outlook to have about most things in life, it is a sad fact that hackers often have the same positive attitude. If they can’t hack into a computer, this time, they’re positive that they will eventually find a way that works. And if you aren’t prepared, then your computer might be next!

Basic Safety Precautions

Designing a website can be exciting, whether you are creating something from scratch using HTML or using WordPress plugins to design some kind of preexisting template. Once your hard work is complete and you are ready to publish your content to the internet, the last thing you want is to find out that some hacker used a malware program to infect your site with a virus.

Hackers look for websites that lack the protection offered by complex passwords, insecure coding, and outdated scripts. They replace the code originally put into place by the website owner with different messages or advertisements. These fake bits of code are almost always linked to some kind of a virus.

Don’t Be a Victim

Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. The primary way you can avoid hackers and having your site infected with malware is to use some type of secure web hosting service that can publish your content to the internet. A lot of people assume this is a hefty expense, but the reality is that you can find cheap reliable web hosting companies that offer quality services and features.

When you use standard security practices with your website in conjunction with the services offered by a web hosting company, then you are only raising the bar on being a safe website owner. Here are some things you can do that will make it more difficult for hackers to infect your site with some kind of a harmful malware program.

  • Change Passwords – You should change your password every month or so. A combination of lower and uppercase letters as well as numbers works better than a simple word by itself. Avoid using common information like your spouse’s, children’s, or pets’ names and your birthday. For example instead of using “sunshine” as your password, which would be easy to guess, you might consider using “5unSh1n3” which is a stronger password overall.
  • Use Different Passwords – Using the same password for every website is a huge no-no. If someone is able to access your computer via the internet, knowing one of your passwords would then give them intimate access to every site you use, which might include ones for your bank or other financial institution, shopping websites, and possibly any sites you use for work.
  • Update Software – This not only means your operating system but also your web browsers. When these programs prompt you that an update is available, then there is a reason why the manufacturer worked to create that update. Always take advantage of updating software so you can enjoy having the latest technology, which almost always carries the best protection against hackers.
  • Run Antivirus Software – Scan on a regular basis, for instance you might scan your computer once per week. Antivirus software will not only locate any type of nefarious files on your computer, but it can also tell you when a site you are visiting has outdated certifications and a risk of infecting your computer with some type of malware program.

Hackers Go After Everyone the Same

Big businesses have the same risk of being hacked as self-employed entrepreneurs, and many may not become aware of the infection until it is too late. In fact, when it comes to security breaches in a corporate setting, 48% of the 583 IT workers surveyed by the Ponemon Institute reported that the primary cause of a malware attacks or hacking attempts was due to downloading software from the internet.

If the IT professionals for major corporations do not know that their company’s site has been hacked, then how is the typical computer user supposed to know for sure what’s going on with their website? The truth is that hackers are very good at what they do as well. If you are a website owner, finding things like backdoor scripts or iFrames in your site’s code can be tricky business.

Before selecting a web services company, be sure you know how often they back up the information that they are publishing to the web for their clients. Ask them where they store the backed up copies of the information. And if you have any other questions, ask if they have any recommendations or testimonials from other clients that you can read to help you make a final decision.

About the Author

Freelancer Mark Harris may only be in his mid-30s but like some of the people at http://internetbusinessbts.com he has found great success in working for multiple industries online. Working online gives him the freedom to work from anywhere that has a WiFi connection, including his home in British Columbia. During his free time, Mark takes part in activities like hiking and kayaking. However his favorite activity is enjoying beaches along Canada’s western coastline with his wife.

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