Four tips for effective SEO

Chances are, if you maintain and edit a website, you’ve heard of the phrase search engine optimization (SEO). If not, let me refresh your memory. SEO is the process of getting site traffic from a free or organic list on search engines, like Google or Bing.

In honor of July 4th, I thought I’d provide you with four tips for effective SEO—a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.

1.    Inbound links – An inbound link is one that comes from an external site to your website (e.g. if links to When it comes to inbound links, text matters! The best kinds of inbound links are the ones that look natural.

Tip: Include keywords in your inbound links. For instance, Simpson Square may use one titled “Albany SEO.” Once Google or Bing begin indexing this link, they will start to associate with the words “Albany” and “SEO”—this is extremely beneficial.

2.    Homepage – It is critical to specify whether your preferred domain is www or non-www. This is very important because search engines will index every single page on your website. In order to obtain the highest possible ranking, you only want one homepage (you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake).

Tip: When you’ve decided on your preferred domain, use a 301 redirect to redirect traffic from your non-preferred domain. This will let customers and search engines know which domain your prefer.

3.    HTML Heading Tags – Contrary to popular belief, HTML headings are not just to make text look big or bolded. Search engines use headings to index the structure and content of your website. H1 headings should be used as the main headings, followed by H2 and H3 headings, and so forth.

Tip: Only use H1 and H2 headings once per web page. H3 headings should be used at least once, if not more. Search engines use these heading tags to identify important words. In theory, the headings should summarize the topic of the entire page.

4.    Keyword Ratio – Use keywords that have high search engine rankings with free tools like Google Keyword Tool or Google Insights. Much like inbound links, it’s important to use keywords. Just don’t keyword stuff.

Tip: When developing a page of web content, try to maintain a good keyword ratio—which is about 4-8 percent keywords to overall content.  We refer to it as the Goldilocks rule: not too much, but just enough to draw some new attention [Read: Why Compelling, SEO-friendly web content is a Must].

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July everyone!