Optimizing a site for search engines is an increasingly critical component of any online marketing effort. Ranking well in search engines can be very competitive and is only going to get more difficult. There are millions of pages of new content indexed by search engines every day. It’s inevitable that something is being written every day that competes with your websites content. In order to stay competitive in your search engine rankings, search engine optimization, or “SEO,” techniques need to be implemented to make sure that people searching for topics you write about will find your site.
Here are ten tips that will help improve your search engine rankings:
1. Keyword Research
Researching keywords in your industry is going to give you an idea of the search volume for that keyphrase. Once you have this knowledge you can use it to modify or create content that targets these keywords. The Google AdWords keyword tool allows you to enter a keyword giving you related keyword suggestions and the approximate monthly search volume for that keyword. When you’re doing your keyword research, create a spreadsheet with your targeted keywords and check your search engine rankings for each keyword. Use your spreadsheet to benchmark how well you’re ranking and to see your improvements over time.
If you’re targeting certain keywords it only makes sense that keywords appear in your page content. The key is to make the placement of your keywords look natural and not overdo it. Shoot for around a 5% keyword density. Once your get over 7-8% it might start to look a bit spammy. There are several keyword density tools available on the internet to measure the keyword percentage.
3. Title Tags
Use keywords in your title tags but also make sure that each title in your website is unique and descriptive. Having the keyword towards the beginning of your title also helps. Users see the page titles in the search engine results pages (SERPS) so a well written title can make the difference in the users decision to click through or not. Duplicate titles across your site is a sure way to lower your rankings.
4. Google Analytics
Google Analytics will give you an unbelievable amount of information about your site. Use the information to examine where improvements can be made to your site. For example, through Analytics you may discover that the bounce rate on some sections of your site is very high. You might want to do some experimenting with navigation or graphical elements to make the site more ‘sticky’. Analytics will quickly let you know if your changes are working or not. A quality user experience is a factor in search engine rankings so it’s important to respond to the information Analytics offers you.
5. Link Building
Generally, the more inbound links you have to your site the better your site will rank. Every link to your site is looked at as a ‘vote’ for your site. The key is to have quality and relevant links. A link to your site from New York Times online doing an article about your industry will far outweigh a link that was created through a link exchange program. Another important factor in link building is the anchor text of the link. Anchor text is the text used in the link itself. If you sell golf putters an inbound link using ‘golf putters for sale’ will have much more value than ‘click here’. I cannot stress the importance of what a quality inbound link can do improve search rankings. I have seen inbound links from quality sites that have propelled the recipients ranking for the phrase used in the anchor text almost overnight.
6. Quality Content
The old SEO adage that content is king is as true today as when I first heard it almost ten years ago. Continually creating unique and quality content for your website works on many levels- it creates a good user experience, it helps your site become ‘authoritative’, it allows more opportunity for visitors to find your site and it help create ‘link bait’- content that is compelling enough for other sites to link to.
7. User Friendly URLs
User friendly URLs are URLs that include keywords. For instance the URL mygolfsite.com/ping-redwoood-golf-putter is much more attractive to search engines and users than mygolfsite.com/products.php?prouductid=54271. User friendly URLs that include keywords help in a couple of different ways. First the keywords will be bolded in the search engines which will help with your click through rate and secondly if someone links to your site using the URL as the anchor text the keywords will already be included in the link.
8. H1 tags
H1 tags help to organize the page by telling search engines that the topic is important. Avoid using titles, anchor text and H1 tags that are identical.
9. Meta Description Tags
Most search engines display the meta description tag in the SERPs so this is your chance to write a captivating description that will increase your click through’s. Like the title tag, each meta description should be unique and descriptive.
10. Make your site ‘Crawler Friendly’