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The Beginner's Guide to SEO

By Justin Petruccelli

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

KISSmetrics Founder Neil Patel has made a name for himself helping big companies make more money online through search engine optmization. He stopped by Entrepreneur's Winning Strategies for Business Conference to share some of his secrets. If you weren't lucky enough to see his presentation in person, we were there to live blog it for you.

Here are the highlights:

The Fundamentals


Content is King

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness -- Good code is key.

Are You Linked In? More links, higher ranking; links are like votes.

Being on page one isn't enough. The hottest portion of the page is the first three results. Being the top result gives you four times as many clicks as the second spot.

Keyword Research

High search volume doesn't necessarily produce the best results. It's better to have 100 people come to your site from a niche keyword because they're more likely to become customers.

Relevance is key. If you're a credit card processing company, you don't want to optimize your site for the term "credit cards" because people using that search term are looking to apply for cards, not for your service.

If you're doing SEO the right way, the long-tail keywords will give you the best traffic. Plus, it's easier to achieve a higher ranking with these terms.

Go for the low-hanging fruit -- keywords with fewer competitors and high search volume.


Wikipedia always ranks high because content is really important. The more content you have on your home page, the more search terms you're giving potential customers. But the content has to be quality content -- evergreen content, fresh content, how-to guides, lists and other useful information. Your business doesn't have to be sexy to create great content.

You can also start a blog to add content to your site. It's an easy, free and effective way to bring traffic to your business

Stay away from content that's irrelevant or duplicated; this kind of content will really hurt your search rankings.

When it comes to on-page factors, don't forget the basics -- headings, meta tags, title tags, site maps, keyword-rich domain names, etc.

Your URL should use dashes rather than underscores, and should also be keyword-rich. Also, less is more. Subdomains can also help improve your ranking for a particular product.

Ideal Site Structure

Cross-link within the text of your content to other parts of your site.

If you link to external sites, use no-follow links to avoid duplication.

Keep your pages under 100 links.

Link to internal reference pages of your site.

Optimize Your Images

Every image should have a unique descriptive tag.

Use a long description tag.

Enable enhanced image search in Google's Webmaster Tools.

Link Building

If you want to be popular on the web, you have to get other sites to link to your site. A good link is rich in anchor text, is located within text, is relevant and is permanent. Paying for links or providing spam links can hurt your ranking or even get you removed from search engines entirely. Trading links with competitor sites in your market is also an outdated and ineffective tactic.

How to Build Links

Write good content.

Create buzz with a blog.

Leverage social media.

Leverage directories.

Send e-mail to website owners.

Don't lose your links; if you want to move to a new domain name or change a URL on your website, make sure to create a permanent redirect from your old URL.

Patel was also happy to provide his contact information and offered free help to fellow entrepreneurs:

Neil Patel

(562) 292-3834


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