SEO 101

Written by Kiersten Leone, Content Intern at MSM DesignZ. 

How come your embarrassing pictures from 2008 are on the first page of Google, but the business you started in 2016  is on the third page? You can thank what’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for that.

Here at MSMDesignz, we are SEO experts. Every once in awhile we like to go back to SEO basics to inform new visitors the importance of it, as well as teach them a basic synopsis to get them started. SEO is basically an umbrella term for ensuring your site gets the visibility it needs on search engine pages. According to Google, SEO is about making small modifications to parts of your website. When combined with other optimizations, they can have a great impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.

Site Structure to Enhance SEO

Having good structure on your website will better your chance of ranking higher in search engines. Good site structure means giving your users a great experience. This doesn’t mean throw graphics, colors, and fonts around to make the site “fun,” but rather making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for, or locate things where they would be expected to be. A site with great structure can reduce bounce rate and improve dwell time, which improves your rankings in search engines.

Sitelinks are another huge advantage to SEO. They increase the navigation of your site, reputation, help dominate search engine result pages (SERPs), increase click through rate, and improve trust. However, you can’t just fill out some forms and get sitelinks. Google awards them to sites that have great site structure.

Creating Site Structure

First, plan out a hierarchy before developing your website. You want it to be simple, so both users and Google crawlers can navigate the site. You should keep categories between two and seven, as well as keep the amount of subcategories in each category about the same number. Always remember not to let pages, especially important ones, become too buried within the site.

Shallow sites always work better for both the user and crawlers. Next, create your site navigation in HTML or CSS. HTML and CSS are your safest approach when using JavaScript, Flash, and Ajax. You should also develop an internal linking system. Internal linking is important for three reasons according to Moz. First, they allow users to navigate a website. Second, they help establish information hierarchy for the given website. Lastly, they help spread link juice (ranking power) around websites. This may sound complicated, but all it is saying is that your website should have some link to and some link from another page on the website. This tells search engines what pages are important. Other Ways to Boost SEO

Title tags

A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of the landing page is. Choose a title that effectively communicates what is on the page. This means don’t use default or vague titles like “Untitled,” or creating a title that is not relevant to the page’s content. You should also give each of your pages a unique title tag, which tells search engines how that page is different from others on your site. Next, keep it short and sweet. If a title is too long, search engines are most likely to only show a portion of it.

Meta Tags

A page’s meta tag gives search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page’s title may be a few words or a phrase, a page’s description meta tag might be a couple of sentences or a short paragraph. Description meta tags are important because Google will show them under your link to summarize what is on the page. When writing a description you want it to inform and interest users. Avoid writing a non-relevant description, using generic descriptions, filling the description with only keywords, and copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the meta tag.

Properly tagged images

Properly tagging your images with an alt attribute will help google “read” that your images are relevant. By thoroughly describing your image in the “alt text” box, it will increase the chances of your images appearing in the Google Image search.

A New Meaning for the SEO Acronym Strategy Tactics are helpful, but strategy is your key to online success. For example, finding ways to build links such as through hosting a contest, will work better than writing posts for other bloggers. Expert Being an expert in your industry, where you can offer valuable information and data to your visitors is a great way to create authority and attract natural links from trusted sites. On-Page Off-page SEO, or link building, is only half the battle. On-page SEO includes the title tag, headings, keyword placement in the page copy, and most importantly, the quality of your content.

Common mistakes

There are three main mistakes that are made when it comes to trying to master SEO. The first mistake is the “gut check mistake”. This is where people will pick keywords based on their guts, rather than what people are actually searching for. Great tools to see what people use for key words are Soovle, Answerthepublic, and Moz.


The second mistake is the “broken record mistake.” This is when people stuff keywords throughout their content. You should only place keywords in title tags and key copies. If Google catches you stuffing keywords throughout your content, you will get in trouble.

The last common mistake is the “blue light special mistake.” This is when people purchase many links that point to their pages for cheap. The problem with this is that it is about quality over quantity. You should strive to build authoritative trusted links rather than random non-trusted links.

Now that you have learned the basics of SEO, you are on your way to gaining exposure for your site’s content. For other tips and tricks regarding SEO, visit our blog archive!