There are thousands of different techniques to achieve higher ranking in the search results, here I will be covering just the most fundamental SEO Tips that have not changed for a long time now.
The number of links, and how your links are constructed affect how high you rank on Google. Generally speaking, if you rank well in Google, chances are you’ll do well on Yahoo and other search engines. Right now, the top 3 search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing are all most SEO experts focus on these days. The following tips (in no particular order of importance) should help boost your rankings in as little as one week! (though more time may be necessary):
SEO Tip #1, Keywords
Before you even build your website you need to determine what niche or theme your website is about. Same with any other page, there’s going to be main topic for it. Once you decide on topic, you need to find keywords and phrases that relate to your theme, analyze them and pick most relevant and “in demand” keywords. It would be a waste of your time to optimize your website for keywords that nobody is even searching for.
So, how do you go about finding these “in demand” keywords? Google Zeitgeist is a good starting point, which also links to Google Trends, and Google Insight. These tools should provide a good starting point to build a decent keyword list. Check these sites about once a month or so just to do a quick followup and see how well they stack up.
SEO Tip #2, Competition
Analyzing your competitors is important! Search engines analyze incoming links to your website as part of their ranking criteria which is called Page Rank (PR). Though in order to level the playing field, PR does not always win out over better content.
So what other websites are doing to rank on top of search results? Gather as much data as you can about the top ranking sites for whatever keyword or phrase you are trying to optimize your page for, like:
- Competition’s rank in the Search Engines Results for given keyword
- The number of incoming links to the site’s home page, not including internal links.
- What keywords they use in the title tag
- Number of links containing keywords in the link text
- PageRank of linking pages
- The Alexa traffic ranking
SEO Tip #3, Title Optimization
Many SEO professionals still argue over this but the page title tag element is still one of the most important factors for ranking highly in the search engines.
The title tag is displayed as the first line of text at the top of any browser window. Dropping a few keywords, and keeping it short and to the point will give you a better chance at being found. Just be sure not to over do it! It is considered a “Black Hat” trick to overload your site with keywords, and most search engines will drop you if they feel you are being tricky.
Make sure your Page Title is relevant to the content on the page. This means EVERY page should have it’s own unique Title tag.
SEO Tip #4, Meta Tags
META tags are little bits of hidden code in the header of your page. This data is collected and shared with the search engine spiders/crawlers as a simple way to index what the page is about. The most important META tags you need to utilize in your webpages are:
Important things to keep in mind:
- Select no more than eight (8) keywords or keyword phrases/terms.
- Never use more than four (4) words in a primary keyword phrase/term. Line up your keywords/phrases/terms to resemble a sentence – most important ones first.
- Keywords/phrases/terms should not exceed 150 characters.
- Use as many keywords/phrases/terms your description as you can. But be sure it still sounds like a human wrote it. This is what will show up in your search results, so direct and to the point will always work best.
- Description should not exceed one hundred and fifty (150) words. Important! Only the first 25 words or so will show up in the search, so put your best foot forward.
Robots Meta Tag
This tag is used to let search engines know whether or not to index certain pages. This allows some pages to remain hidden from the search view, say for example, a personal page you do not wish to share with the world, can be removed from search indexes by the following line of code:
<html> <head> <title>...</title> <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW"> </head>
SEO Tip #5, Optimize Pages with Headings
Using <h1>,<h2>,<h3>, etc.. tags is the best way to highlight important keywords. And just like their names imply, the lower the number, the greater importance is placed on that tag.
Try to only use one <h1> tag per page. It’s not to say you can’t; just not as advisable for SEO purposes.
h2 and h3 header tags should be thought of as a sub headings for your page.
SEO Tip #6, Backlinks and Inline Page Linking
If you exchange links with other sites, be sure to link them to various pages in your site. Having all pages backlink to one page (your home page) might tell the search engines that your site is shallow and perhaps created by bots – so do not give them as much credit.
When linking keywords within your text, be sure to use a variety of words. Thing like, “click here to learn more” does not add any link value to your site. Changing the sentence structure to allow for something more descriptive like, “want to learn more SEO Tips?”.
Since linking is such a big part of SEO, perhaps I’ll dive a little deeper into this part in a future article. This should be enough to get you going!
SEO Tip #7, Site Map and Google XML Map
Every website needs a Sitemap big or small. The purpose of a site map is to act like a table of contents, and allow quick spider searching through your site, without having to scan various navigation structures and tons of content. In addition, it will help users who may find themselves lost, find their way back to where they need to go.
Smaller sites (like mine) can use second navigation bar in the footer that will act as a small mini site map. This is nothing more than all your important pages as links in the footer.
By submitting a XML Sitemap to a search engine, you are making easier for that engine’s crawlers to crawl and index pages of your site. For regular websites there are many free online xml sitemap generators, just Google it.
SEO Tip #8, Robots.txt
If you are already using a Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla, chances are this file is automatically created for you. It does not mean you don’t have to do anything further; as you can add your own code if needed.
The important thing to understand about robots.txt files is that the main purpose is much like the Robots Meta data, telling the search engine robots to allow access or not allow access to certain directories and files of your site. Instead of having to put the meta data on all pages, a robots.txt file can do this for you in a remote file.
Further reading on Robotx.txt files on The Site Wizard
More Facts and Google Tips
Get the facts here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769. This page covers general guidelines and various Do’s and Don’ts of SEO.
If you are interested in contracting me to assist with your SEO, drop me a line!