I am often asked about the best place to start the process of search engine optimization.

"Do I have to pay for high rankings?" "Should I contact Google?" "Is there a magic SEO wand I can buy on Amazon?" No, no and...no, at least not yet. There are, however, three easy ways to make sure your website is formatted in a way that makes it easy for search engines to find you.

1) Check your HTML!

It sounds simple, but it's very important that Google and other search engines are able to read and index what's on your website. If you have faulty tags or missing links, crawlers (programs used to index websites) may not understand what's on your website and you may get skipped altogether – So make sure your code is solid!

2) Create a sitemap file

Again, search engine crawlers rely on sitemap files to tell them what's on your website and where to look for it. Think of it like a roadmap that you can supply and it tells Google exactly how to find your site!

3) Use your Keywords

In the old days, search engines relied heavily on the use of metadata (kind of like descriptive hashtags in your website code) to determine how relevant a site was to a search and how highly it should rank in search results. Now, Google and other companies are able to read the actual content of your website and, along with your incoming and outgoing links, use that information to more accurately guide users to your site. So the more you're able to use keywords on your website and in articles linked to your website, the more highly search engines will rank your content.

Thoughts on your favorite way to optimize websites? Comment below: