SEO Essentials For Top Search Engine Rankings

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a process of improving your website visibility in the search engines including: Google, Yahoo and Bing. SEO is a long term process of targeted traffic generation. More and more businesses are focusing on search engine optimisation as a method of generating traffic and sales.

Why SEO is important?

Many businesses focus on the organic method of generating search engine traffic. Search engine optimisation is a long term asset for your business.

A small business owner such as the local butchers gathers their business through passing trade and word of mouth. A website or blog that's located on the first page of Google is highly likely to gain more leads and sales because they can be easily found.

Being on the first page of Google is the same principle as participating in the Top 10 Music Singles Chart. Everybody wants to be number one.  The Top 10 Music Singles Chart is highly competitive and there could be a difference of 25,000 sales in records between the number one chart position and the number two chart position.

Unlike the music industry, once you've reached the first page of Google you’re more likely to be on the first page of Google longer. However, it’s always a constant effort to stay on the first page of Google.

The Internet has thousands of niches and varying levels of competition.  Niches such as “credit cards” or “mortgages” are highly competitive and these businesses depend on high SEO rankings to maintain their profit margins. Businesses understand the importance of high search engine rankings.

How Google sees the Internet

Google doesn't see fancy graphics, video or audio. Google can only read HTML. It’s more important than ever to develop a search engine friendly website or blog. Google loves content. Google is like a journalist that’s eager to find the latest news.

Websites such as: YouTube, Facebook, Digg and Twitter are crawled more often than a website that’s updated once a month. The Googlebot (Google’s search engine spider) is always searching for fresh new information.

Many businesses are beginning to implement blogs into their marketing strategy. You may have heard the term blog referred as “better listings on Google”.

Below is an example of how Google sees a web page. The Googlebot will read a web page and all the hyperlinks that are located on that web page. It’s important to have a strong link structure throughout your website.

Google Cache Example

SEO tips for Designers & Developers

Search engine optimisation can sometimes be overlooked by web designers. Web designers usually focus on making the web page look attractive.  A website or blog is a marketing machine that should generate results and traffic.

SEO tips for Web Designers

  1. Write your website mostly in HTML. The search engines can read HTML clearly and concise.
  2. Avoid making websites entirely in Adobe Flash. Websites that are self-contained within an Adobe Flash Player can’t be read by the search engines.  An example of using Flash would be in a banner or an interactive diagram. Avoid using Flash in your main navigation.
  3. Before designing your website, think about your information structure. Ask your client for the goals of the website. Content is an important part of any online presence.
  4. Take into consideration how Google sees your website or blog. The client wants results from their website or blog.
  5. Many web designers overlook the content structure of a website. The most popular websites have an outstanding content structure. Web users visit the Internet to find and research content that's relevant to them.  When you design a new website focus on the target audience and the benefits from a content point of view. Design is important, but content is crucial.

Ask yourself this question:

“If you become highly skilled at SEO and can generate an abundance of sales, how many clients would demand your skills?”

Search engine optimisation is a long-term asset that businesses are craving for.

On-Page SEO

There are a number of techniques that can be applied directly to your website or blog. The beauty of On-Page SEO is you have full control of your online presence. It’s important to get your website ready for the search engines by using On-Page SEO methods before launching your website or blog. Everybody needs targeted traffic. Everybody wants targeted traffic. Creating an excellent link structure will prove to be an important factor for any online presence.

20 tips to develop an SEO friendly website or blog

1. Web Hosting

Purchase reliable web hosting. Google review website speed as an important factor in their search engine ranking algorithms.  It's a good idea to use a local web hosting provider. You want your web hosting provider to be located as close to your business address as possible. The Googlebot establishes your business from where your hosting is located. If you have a local shop that is based in Newcastle, but your web hosting is based in the United States you will not benefit from local search. Search engine positions vary from different locations.

2. Review your competition

The Internet is a fantastic research tool. Thanks to Google, you can review all your competition just by conducting a search query. If you’re serious about creating a great website or blog review your top ten competitors in the Google search.

Review their online presence for the following:

  • Does your competitor have any unique content?
  • Does your competitor use multimedia?
  • Where are your competitor’s back links coming from?
  • What’s your competitor’s unique selling point?
  • How can you make your website or blog better than your competitors?
  • Does your competitor use: social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any aspects of social bookmarking?

3. Keyword research

Before purchasing a domain name focus on your target audience. Research the key phrases or keywords that your potential customers will be searching for to find their information.  Research the competition of the keywords that you wish to rank for.

Choosing the correct keywords is extremely important. Use the Google Keyword Tool to help find the correct search terms.

If your website or blog is in a competitive niche, it’s going to be more difficult to reach the first page of Google.  Target long tail keywords and you’ll have more success.

Examples of keyword research

Example A:

The term web hosting has 196,000,000 results.

The term web hosting is a broad phrase.

There are many types of web hosting including:

  • Cheap web hosting
  • Reliable web hosting
  • Linux web hosting
  • Windows web hosting

A potential customer that’s ready to buy web hosting is more likely to type in something more concise.

Example B:

The key phrase “Linux Plesk Virtual Dedicated Server” has 167,000 results.

This phrase is called a “long-tail” key phrase. The customer knows exactly what they want to look to for and more likely to a make purchase. A broad term such as “web hosting” is likely to be someone researching a nice. If you can focus on targeting long-tail key phrases you’re more likely to make more sales.

4. Choose a keyword rich domain

Once you know your competition. It’s important to purchase a domain name that reflects your target market.  If your business is based in the United Kingdom it’s advisable to purchase a .co.uk domain.

Try and use your keywords in your domain name. Every domain is unique and Google searches for content that’s relevant to your search.

5. SEO friendly links

It’s important to create SEO friendly navigation. Review DMOZ.org for some ideas on SEO friendly links.

The website link below, doesn't tell the search engines or the reader what the hyperlink is about.

This is an example of poor link structuring.

http://www.mydomain.co.uk/?=1334334

An example of good link structure

http://www.intrahost.co.uk/web-hosting/linux-plesk-hosting/

The SEO friendly link demonstrates to the web user and the search engines that the hyperlink refers to web hosting and Linux Plesk hosting. Therefore, both the user and search engines can recognise the meaning of the hyper link.

6. Page title tags

One of the most important aspects regarding search engine optimisation is the title tag. The title tag is the first piece of information that the Googlebot notices.  If you‘re looking to increase your search engine rankings - change the title tags to improve search engine ranking positioning.

Tips for modifying the page title tag.

  • Make your page titles are unique for every page. Google is constantly looking for unique content.
  • Avoid using “and”, “&”, “or” in your page titles. Instead use “-“ or “|”.  Focus on your keywords. You can use up to 70 characters in your page title - it’s highly recommended to use all of them.

7. Heading tags

HTML uses a variety formatting tags known as heading tags. Heading 1 (<H1>Heading one</H1>) being the most influential to Heading 6 (<H6>Heading six</H6>) being the least influential. The search engines understand that content in the heading tags are important.

It’s important to use your keywords in the heading tags. Make full use of your keywords in the heading tags. Keep your headings as short as possible.

Only use the H1 tag once on each page. You can use H2 and H3 multiples times throughout your web content.

8. Create a Sitemap

A sitemap is an excellent tool to the aid search engines. A sitemap is an index for your website that's read by the search engines. The Googlebot will read this and crawl every page on your website. A visual sitemap is another resourceful aid for your web visitors. Not only, a sitemap assists the search engines, but a visual sitemap helps the web user to navigate around the website more efficiently.

9. Use your keywords in the first 50 words of your content

Remember that the search engine’s priority is to find: relevant, resourceful and unique content.  It’s good practice to use your keywords as early as possible in your content.

10. SEO friendly footer

In web design, footers can been generally overlooked.  The purpose of SEO is to increase your visibility in the search engines. This is can be implemented by internal linking.

11. Internal linking

Google is interested in natural link building. An excellent example of internal link building is Wikipedia. The Wikipedia website constantly interlinks resourceful content internally throughout their articles. Internal linking also promotes deep linking, where the search engine spiders can crawl more thoroughly through your website or blog.

12. 404 Error Page

How many times have you seen the “Page Not Found” (404 error) when using the Internet? A customised 404 page can be applied to retain web visitors that have become lost through your online presence. A customised 404 error page can be used to improve your SEO and usability.

13. Create a keyword rich article for your home page

If you’ve got a frequently changing home page on your website, create a keyword rich article to go underneath your footer on the homepage.  This will help to improve relevancy throughout your online presence.

14. Install an RSS feed

Many web users are unaware of the power the RSS Feed. Do you have a favourite blog that you visit frequently just to review new updates? The RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndicate) is a free subscription service that informs you when your favourite website or blog has been updated with new content.

For many bloggers, an RSS feed plays an important part of their overall website traffic.  Educate your target audience about the benefits of using an RSS feed.

15. Image Files

Digital cameras are commonly known for producing instant photographs but creating poor file names. For example, you’ve taken a photograph of a Jack Russell Puppy. How relevant is the file name “001.jpg” to you?

Instead of: “001.jpg”, name your file to “jack-russell-puppy.jpg”.  By creating relevant file names you could rank highly on Google Images. This is another opportunity to create targeted web traffic.

16. ALT text

In a nutshell, ALT text (alternative text) is applied to images. Search engines can’t see images, instead they see text. In addition, ALT text is required for accessibility. If an image doesn’t load for whatever reason the ALT text explain what the image is.

For SEO purposes, use clear and concise phrases that describe the image. If possible use relevant keywords that relate to your web page.

17. Create fresh content often as possible

The search engines are constantly searching for relevant and unique information. Develop a content creation strategy for your online presence. Depending on your schedule, try and develop at least three new articles per week and make your content keyword rich.

Focus on quality information rather than quantity. Your target market wants relevant and unique information. Your information must serve the needs of the target market and provide value. An online presence that contains value will be link worthy from other websites and blogs.

18. Submit your content to social bookmarking sites

In order to get your web content noticed, you need to promote your online presence on as many social media sites as possible. Submit your recently published content to the following social media sites:

  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Technorati
  • Digg

The main benefit of submitting your content to the main social bookmarking sites is that the search engines will crawl: Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Technorati much faster than smaller blogs or websites.  Make a habit of submitting your content to social media sites after you’ve published a new article.

19. Keyword Rich Hyperlinks

How many websites have you visited and seen the phrase “Click here?”

The clickable text in the hyperlink is known as “anchor text”. The anchor text plays a major factor in the weight of search engine rankings.

If I wanted to increase my website rankings for the term: cloud servers. My anchor text would be “cloud servers”. Using the relevant anchor text will increase the search engine position for that particular phrase.

"Search engines are constantly looking for relevancy."

20 . Use breadcrumbs in your navigation

An easy to use navigation structure is resourceful for website users.  You’ll notice on a variety of websites or blogs that a breadcrumb structure is common. This promotes internal linking and makes your site user-friendly.

21 . Start blogging

Some businesses are using blogging and social media as a part of their online marketing strategy. Never before, has there been an opportunity to create an online presence and develop conversation.

Blogs are online journals that are search engine friendly and support the Web 2.0 features such as commenting and RSS.

Summary

Marketing is a constant on-going process where you need dedicate your time and efforts to achieving the results that you require. Search engine optimisation is an important factor of any successful marketing campaign.  Some niches are more competitive than others. If you focus on your SEO campaign you're on the way to better search engine listings.

Content generation is an important factor of any online presence. A website or blog is like maintaining a car. A car needs fuel to operate. The engine requires oil to function properly. Regular maintenance tests are required to ensure that the car is running smoothly. But most importantly, a website needs a confident driver to push their online successfully forward.

Focus on developing the best online presence that you possibly can. Constantly supply unique content. Think about developing content that’s link worthy. This is known as link bait. Develop a free eBook or resource and promote your content frequently.

Now it’s your turn

If you’ve done any link building, how successful have your efforts been? Do you have any SEO stories to share? Do you have any tips on traffic generation?

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