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SEO 101 - how to optimize a web page for SEO

This is our most frequently asked question. How do I optimize my website for SEO?

Luckily, the LVSYS CMS has built-in SEO, but that only goes so far. You have to write your content in a way that is friendly for search engines, which means using keyphrases and keywords in your page titles and article headlines that are very relevant to the articles or pages in question and to what you are trying to sell. You need to get in the mind of your target audience.

SEO is both and art and a science. Let's start with the science, and talk about the art later.

Overall strategy

Here's the overall strategy to get your website well ranked with the LVSYS CMS.

  1. Optimize your website
    1. Use the google adwords keyword tool (see below) to identify keyphrases and keywords relevant to your business
    2. optimize your page titles, description and headlines (articles, events, etc) to include these keyphrases
    3. create as many dedicated pages as possible (see below) to further target your page titles for your keywords
    4. write relevant content in our articles where you recall keyphrases from titles and headlines
  2. Submit to search engines
    1. Submit to Google, Yahoo and Bing.
    2. Submit your sitemaps (http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml0
    3. Submit your RSS feeds (see below)
  3. Build Massive Inbound Links
    1. Submit your site to web directories, especiall Open Directory (http://dmoz.org)
    2. Submit to web directories both local and in your industry
    3. Subscribe to forums and start chatting. Leave the appropriate url in your signature
    4. Same with newsgroups (search engines love newsgroups and forumsL it's fresh content)
    5. Leverage social media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter where relevant.
  4. Monitor ranking
    1. Watch your google ranking
    2. Use our keyword monitoring service, which could be sending you an email regularly showing where you stand for specific keyphrases

The rest of this article talks more in depth about each section and how the LVSYS CMS can help you execute the above SEO strategy.

Page titles and H1 tags, from the search engine point of view

First and foremost, optimizing a website start with understanding how search engines find and index websites. So let's take for a moment the perspective of a search engine.

Basically, imagine you have 8 billion web pages out there and your job is to index them so that people can find relevant content by typing in some search terms.

If all these pages were text files without structure: no title, no headlines, no clear distinction between paragraphs, the job would be very hard. How can you tell which content is more relevant than others? You can't. All you can rely on to rank these pages is how often people decide that a result is what they were looking for, and how often the keywords appear in the document. This would obviously lead to a lot of noise in your search results. It wouldn't work very well.

Luckily, it's not the case. Web pages follow the HTML standard and can use page titles, page descriptions, page keywords (we'll talk about how useless these are), heading tags (H1, H2, .. H6) and site maps to describe their content and give readers a hint for what they are about to read, or what they might find on the website.

Now, you can think about the web as a big giant library where each book has a title on the border, so that you can find it on the rack; some more information on the cover and the back so that you can make a reasonable judgement as to what the book talks about. And it has a table of index inside that you can glance at to see if the book is relevant to your very precise research.

That being said, SEO is about making sure that your book will be found and is listed in the index properly.

Page Titles

At the very least, your site needs a good page title. Our system allows you to configure it globally. Good enough for small websites with few pages. Alternatively, and it's our recommendation, you can fine tune the page title for each web page of your website. 

The title should contain the keyphrase that people are most likely to type to find your content. The trick is in the "most likely". For that, you can use Keyword Research tools from google adwords (to name the most obvious) to help you in your research. Further down, we talk about that tool, so you can just jump there for now.

Keep it under 60 characters. Why? Because that's the space you have in browser title windows; and search engines know it. If you need to say more, that's what the page description is all about. Remember: the page title is like the lining text on a book. Be specific.

Page keywords are used by mostly disregarded because it has been widely abused by webmasters for years. So, put the keywords relevant to your content, but don't over do it either.

H1 Tags (also known as Heading 1)

The H1 tag is automatically generated by the LVSYS CMS. So you do not have to worry about whether we do it or not. There can only be one H1 tag per page and our templates enforce this rule.

Your H1 tag should be very relevant to the article, event, business listing or product that it is attached to. You've already noticed that you cannot save any of the above items without specifying a Headline field. That's the H1 tag.

Be careful not to mess with your headlines, search engines will penalize you if you try to trick them. For example: if you are a winery website and you promotes the benefits of a pharmaceutical drug in a headline that is totally irrelevant to your content, you will be walking on dangerous territory. If your website domain gets flagged as spam, you may have just killed the entire SEO of your domain name.

Keyphrase and keyword research and analysis

As said above, your content should contain in headers and page titles the keyphrase or keywords that people are most likely to type to find your content. The trick is in the "most likely". For that, you can use Keyword Research tools from google adwords (to name the most obvious) to help you in your research.

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

This tool will show you how your keyphrase ranks with other similar keyphrases, what the competition for that keyphrase looks like, and what the trend is. What's the trend all about? It's about new products appearing on the radar: for example when the iphone came out, nobody was searching for the iphone, then all of the sudden the search engines start recording more and more research for it. That's an upwards trend. It's good! Avoid picking keyphrases in downward trends.

Once you find the proper mix of keywords, then start using it in your page titles, headlines, and content. But don't over do it. Less is more. 

Submit your website to search engines

Page names and dedicated pages

Make sure to use lower case and separate words with hyphens. Do not use blanks of spaces in your page names. That will just cause lots of search engine failures, and confusion for users. There are more than 400 search engines out there.

The LVSYS CMS lets you type in any name you want for your page names, allowing you full flexibility for your URLs.

Dedicated pages are pages that you link (redirect) directly to an article. Because they are pages, you can customize their page title and meta tags, therefore allowing you to better fine tune the SEO for those articles, events, listings or products.

Sitemaps

You should have as many pages as possible because the LVSYS CMS will automatically regenerate your site map (http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml) every 24 hours.

Submitting your sitemap to search engine is like telling them: here's my table of content. It's something that everyone should do, because you simplify their work.

RSS feeds

Just like sitemaps, RSS feeds should be submitted to search engines. Your RSS feeds are automatically generated for each article category, event category, business listing category and product (ecommerce) category that you have. You can discover them with Internet Explorer.

Typically, they are in the form: http://yoursite.com/?rss=Article&P1=news - for the article category named 'news'. 

Watch out for Google, for them you need to submit your RSS feed as a sitemap, it will recognize as an RSS feed afterwards. Yes, it's a weird quirk.

Inbound Links - a grass root approach

Inbound links is what allows search engines to find you, and to decide how relevant you are. There are several ways you can build inbound links, but let's talk about why inbound links matter.

We're assuming that you've already optimized your website with the proper keywords, keyphrases, titles and headlines. Great. You've successfully accomplished the toughest part. By doing so, you've allowed your site to stand up from the crowd. What you've really done though, is step out of the noise, and stepped into your competition.

So, now, you might appear just like your competition. If that's a problem, then you need to modify your keywords, but most often time you do want to go head to head with your competition. After all you are after the same customers or audience, so don't let them be #1 in rankings.

Your content optimization made the search engine put your website in the same bucket as others for similar keywords. The SEO work is now to step out of that crowd. Again? Yes, again. Proper SEO represents weeks if not months of work.

That's when search engines differentiate websites based on how often they found the website on the internet. That's also when advertising comes in to play. First, start to build a buzz word about your website in all the forums that are relevant in your industry. Build a voice for your company and services, use different urls for your signature according to the forum you are on.

Second, find out the most popular blogs in your industry and get your website out there. A good portion of your customers will likely be browsing review blogs and "this vs that" - plus, those who are looking for "this vs that" types of blogs are already very close to a buying decision.

Next: advertise in google adwords for the correct keywords. That will bump up visits to your site, and properly executed, advertising should help you build a buzz word about your company.

Monitor your ranking

Message in a bottle? Not quite. Once you're done with your SEO you need to keep an eye on it. It never ends. New competition will appear, new web directories will surface, old web directories will die, new products come out, it's the creative destruction in full force.

Luckily for you, we provide a premium service called "keyword monitor". It works like this: you submit a keyphrase and it will monitor the rank of your website for that keyphrase on all major search engines (google, yahoo and bing) and will email you a regular report containing your ranking, your trend, and what your competition is doing.

It's a very easy system that will tell your SEO is doing.

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