We had the good fortune of getting into the packed SXSW Interactive session on How to Rank Better in Google & Bing, presented by a panel of search engine heavy hitters including Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Search Engine Land; Duane Forrester, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Matt Cutts, who heads the Webspam team at Google. Some attendees may have felt that having Forrester and Cutts on the same panel might result in a smack down between Google and Bing, but on the contrary, the two worked together to provide practical advice and a healthy dose of humor. They began with this video that explains what SEO is all about.

Then they shared a few tips about how one should make website content the ingredients for a search engine recipe. If you use the right ingredients, the search engines will love you; Use the wrong ones and you’ll end up with little to no traffic directed towards your site. So what are these magical ingredients that search engines drool over?

Words – Every word you use on your site matters. Write content/copy on your site for humans, not for search engines. The content has to relate back to what your site is about and don’t even think about keyword stuffing (packing your site’s text with many repetitions of your keywords). If you want to check out which keywords are best for your site, use both the Google Keyword Tool and the Bing Keyword Tool.

Tags – As in Meta tags. There are special tags you can add to the head section of your webpages which is read by search engines. According to Google, “Meta tags are a great way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites. Meta tags can be used to provide information to all sorts of clients, and each system processes only the meta tags they understand and ignores the rest.” Don’t skimp on your meta tags. By spending a bit of time to do them right, your site will benefit in the long run.

Links– When you have links coming into your website from other sites, the search engines look upon that with approval, as they view it as a recommendation of good information. Provided, of course, the linked site is reputable. You should also consider the words you use in links. Using keywords for links and around them is also a positive thing in the eyes of the search engines.

Reputation – Your site can earn a good reputation by producing relevant content often, and having good incoming links from other reputable sites. By having a steady flow of new content, search engines are signaled to look at your site, and when they see the content is useful, that helps gain SEO credibility.

Insider tip: Did you know if you’re logged into your Google account, you’ll experience a different set of search results based on your browsing history? If you want to get the “real” results, try browsing in incognito mode.

Both Forrester and Cutts also recommended using the Google or Bing webmaster tools. Both search engines also provide handy tools to help you learn more about SEO Basics.

We hope you find these ingredients to SEO helpful in your quest for better search engine rankings. What tips do you have? Share away in the comments.

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