The SEO Essentials, Courtesy of SEO Expert Lew Sabbag

Lew Sabbag is the founder of Publish Today Media, a Boston-based firm that provides a full range of Internet marketing services, including search engine optimization (SEO). We recently chatted with Lew to get his advice on the essentials of effective SEO.

What should every newbie know about SEO? Let’s talk about the bare basics.

Effective SEO boils down to three things: 1) the right keywords, 2) the right content (which incorporates those keywords), and 3) inbound links. Those are the basics.

What are the keys to a solid keyword strategy?

Here are the places where we try to work in keywords:

  • URL: if possible, it’s great to have a targeted keyword within your URL
  • Title tag: i.e. the line of HTML code that also appears at the top of the browser window
  • H1 tag: i.e. the first headline on a Web page

It’s particularly effective to have the same set of keywords at work in the title tag and H1 tag.

How do you go about determining keywords?

First of all, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Consider how they — not you — think about your services or products. Consider the problem you’re helping customers solve; that determines what keywords they’ll be searching for.

It’s also important to pick keywords that people actually are searching for. I’ve seen sites that don’t take this into account, which is why they get little traffic. In fact, a colleague recently told me about a client that had none of the essential keywords for its industry anywhere on its site.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is very useful for keyword selection. Just enter a phrase, and it’ll give you 200-300 variations of that phrase. You can find out how many people search for each phrase each month along with its competitive ranking, in terms of spending on AdWords.

What’s your advice for incorporating keywords into body copy?

Your content should take into account your keywords, which means including them in a few paragraphs on the page. But don’t go overboard. Always remember that you’re writing for humans; there’s an art to SEO writing, and “keyword stuffing” won’t cut it.

And what role do links play?

The more inbound links — i.e. the more sites that are linking to your site — the better. Google likes it when other sites are “endorsing” your site.

Any other advice to share?

So many people really miss the boat on SEO but also on orienting users once they arrive on your site. Here are three good rules to keep in mind on this point:

  1. When the user comes to your site, he immediately wants to know where he is. What’s your company? What do you do? Spell this out clearly in the header and right in the main copy block on the home page.
  2. Next, think about what you want the user to do. Download something? Buy something? Donate? Watch a video? Contact you? The end destination must be clearly established.
  3. Finally, consider how you’ll drive the user to your desired destination. Create an intuitive path so that it’s easy for the user to get where you want him to go.

What do you think? Did we miss any key SEO essentials? Let us know.

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2 replies
  1. Leann Phoenix says:

    Good basic SEO info here.
    Just an additional comment about the role that links play –
    Inbound links are a great way to improve ranking (and visibilty), but it’s important for the links to be from relevant and creditable source sites. There are many link vendors and questionable sources out there that provide an easy way to get inbound links – but at a cost that also includes a of risk of penalization by Google.

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