How to search engine optimize (SEO) a website


Search engine optimization (SEO), i.e., configuring your website to rank on Google and other search engines, has a lot to do with User Centered Design (UCD) because it is all about the target audience or web visitor segment whom you want to attract to your website. An effective SEO strategy starts with identifying your target audience: Who do you want to visit your website?

Once you have identified the target audience, you have to practice empathy and put yourself into their place. You have to discover: What are they searching for? What do they want? What do they need? What words do they use to describe these needs? What are their search patterns? How do they search?

Only when you have performed this ritual and discovered this insight can you effectively optimize your website for search engines.  So, rule number one of SEO is: Know your target audience.

Once you have discovered who is your target audience, what do they need, and what keyword phrases they would most likely Google to find sites like yours and information like what you have on your website; then it simply becomes a matter of producing relative content with those keywords in mind and injecting those keywords in the title tag of your blog post or article.  Once you do that, your content mangement system (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal should do all the work. If you don’t have a CMS like WordPress or Drupal then it’s going to be a lot harder to optimize your website. So, if you don’t have one, get one.

Where does Google look?

What your CMS will do is to stick those keyword phrases in the 3 most important spots on a web page that Google looks to discover what your web pages are all about:

  1. Page URL
  2. Page title
  3. Link text

Sure, there are other places that Google looks and other signals that Google uses in its algorithm to determine page relevance to a Googler’s search query, but 80% of the weight of Google’s algorithm probably relies on these three basic components.

Rules for SEO

So, to recap, this is what you need to do to effectively optimized your website for search engines:

  1. Know your target audience
  2. Identify the keywords they would use to find sites like yours
  3. Ensure you have a CMS like WordPress or Drupal
  4. Inject those keyword phrases in the blog post or article
  5. Write meaningful, relevant content around those keyword phrases

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