In th 21st Century, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the key drivers to ensuring the success of a company. Without effective SEO, a website is unlikely to be an effective tool. We hope that you find these tips valuable
Consider the following. You are a struggling author, and have spent many months of your life writing a book. You have made every possible effort to ensure that it is the best book that you can possibly write, spending many a late evening refining and reviewing every word until you are satisfied. Your publisher has produced a fantastic cover, and the printed copy is impressive. You have printed several thousand copies.
Then, you hide all the printed copies in a warehouse. No copy appears in any library or bookshop. No copies are sent to any book reviewers for review. No attempt is made to publicise or sell the book in any way.
This describes the website development process for many organisations. They go to great lengths to produce a website, then hide it! SEO is about promoting the site – ensuring that it is in all the bookshops, every library, and that all the promotional activities are undertaken to make sure that people are aware of the book’s existence and, crucially, can find it when they want to buy!
The following hints and tips should help anybody responsible for promoting their website, and making sure that it appears high in all search rankings.
(1) FIND THE BEST KEYWORDS
It would be a waste of your time to optimize your website for keywords that are not even being searched for. Therefore you should invest some energy into finding the best keywords. There are several SEO tools available on the Internet to help you find the best keywords. Tip: Don’t be deceived by organizations that require you to register first. The two most popular resources are WordTracker and www.KeywordDiscovery.com.
When using any SEO tool for doing keyword research, start by keeping your searches ambiguous and general. The results will always return suggestions, sometimes surprising ones that you may not have thought of.
You can get less comprehensive results by using DigitalPoint’s Keyword Suggestion Tool. This SEO tool will give you a summary of information without the KEI.
(2) KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS
Search engines analyze incoming links to your website as part of their ranking criteria. Knowing how many incoming links your competitors have will give you a fantastic edge. Of course, you still have to discover your competitors before you can analyze them.
A terrific tool is SEO Elite, which digs through the major search engines by keyword to not only tell you who your competitors are, but also provides you with an in-depth analysis of each competitor. The analysis includes these extremely important linking criteria, such as:
- Competitor rank in the Search Engines
- Number of incoming links
- What keywords are in the title of linking page
- % of links containing keywords in the link text
- The PageRank of linking pages
- The Alexa traffic ranking information
Stats, such as the above, play a critical part in determining what tools your website will need to compete in the Internet marketing competition. SEO Elite also offers you the ability to see who the website owner is and even send emails to all websites discovered to have quality link potential.
(3) OPTIMISE YOUR TITLE
The Title and META tags should be different on every page of your website if you wish for most search engines to store and list them in the search results.There are different theories about how long your Title should be. Since Google only displays the first 66 or so characters (with spaces), it is important to keep it under 66 characters and relevant to the content on the page.
If you wish to be on the first page of the search results, you must include your keywords in your Title tag. Preferably before all other words in the Title. No need to repeat your keywords in the Title, that’s interpreted as spam by the search engines.
(4) OPTIMISE YOUR META TAGS
META tags are hidden code read only by search engine webcrawlers (also called spiders). They live within the HEAD section of a web page. There are actually 2 very important META tags you need to worry about: description and keywords. Meta tags summarize what the site is about, and despite some SEO controversy, they still play an instrumental role in meta-based search engines. The META tags you need to be the most concerned about are:
The description META tag is the text that will be displayed under your title on the results page. Generally, these should be limited to 160 characters, as this is all that the search engines will read, and keywords shoud not appear more than three times, or they will be ignored.
The last important META tag is the keywords META tag, which some time ago lost a lot of points in Google’s search engine algorithm. However, this tag is still important to many other search engines and should not be ignored. You can have approximately 800 characters in this tag (including spaces).
SEO Tip: if you repeat your keywords more than 3 times it can be a pretty good indication to the search engine that you are trying to spam their search results. Also, don’t waste your time including keywords that aren’t used in the BODY section of your website, that could be seen as another spam technique.
(5) USE HEADINGS
Headings play an important role in organizing information, so be sure to include at least H1-H3 when assembling your page. Since a page full of headings would look just plain silly, you should fill in the blank space with paragraphs, ordered and unordered lists, images, and other content.
(6) USE TITLE AND ALT ATTRIBUTES
More often then not, web addresses (URL’s) do not contain the topic of the page. For example, the URL www.myspace.com says nothing about being a place to make friends. Where a site like www.placetomakefriends.com would tell Google right away that the site being pointed to is about making friends. So to be more specific about where we are pointing to in our links we add a title attribute and include our keywords.
Using the Title Attribute is an direct method of telling the search engines about the relevance of the link.
The ALT Attribute is used for the same reasons as the Title Attribute, but is specifically for describing an image to the search engine and to the visually disabled.
Whenever possible, you should save your images, media, and web pages with the keywords in the file names. Many SEO’s have experienced improvement in ranking by renaming images and media.
(8) CREATE A SITE MAP
PageRank is relative and shared throughout a website by a unique voting system created by Google. PageRank works by having efficient navigation throughout your site. That where a site map page comes in. Since every page on the website will be linked to the sitemap, it allows webcrawlers (and users) to quickly and easily find content.
(9) INCLUDE A ROBOTS.TXT FILE
By far the easiest top 10 SEO tips you will ever do as it relates to search engine optimization is include a robots.txt file at the root of your website. Open up a text editor, such as Notepad and type “User-agent: *”. Then save the file as robots.txt and upload it to your root directory on your domain. This one command will tell any spider that hits your website to “please feel free to crawl every page of my website”.
(10) INSTALL A SITEMAP.XML FOR GOOGLE
Though you may feel like it is impossible to get listed high in Google’s search engine result page, believe it or not that isn’t Google’s intention. They simply want to insure that their viewers get the most relevant results possible. In fact, they’ve even created a program just for webmasters to help insure that your pages get cached in their index as quickly as possible. They call the program Google Sitemaps. In this tool, you’ll also find a great new linking tool to help discover who is linking to your website.
These hints and tips should help you to get the basics right. However, an increasingly important element of site optimisation and promotion is link-building, as PageRank weights it’s site rankings heavily towards those sites that are accessed from other sites that are both relevant and important. Building links is what sets great SEO apart from good SEO. However, these 10 tips should set your site well and truly on its way.