Promoting your website – it’s all about SEO

// January 6th, 2010 // SEO, Web Development

It is also all about Google. The vast majority of people will come across your site from a search engine, the vast majority of those will be via Google. Google has the monopoly of search, so it is essential to get your site ranking as high as possible. It is impossible to have perfect SEO, as it wouldn’t be perfect for very long. Google are constantly changing their algorithms for searh and page ranking. Therefore it is a constant game of cat and mouse for those promoting their websites. There are some essentials SEO techniques that you should include in the development of your website. These things include:

  • Web page title (keywords used in title)
  • Body copy (good use of keywords)
  • Header tags
  • Strong tags
  • Image file names
  • Image alt tags
  • Domain name
  • Path
  • Parameters (or rather, not having any)
  • Page file size
  • In-bound links
  • PageRank

Web page title

The title tag of your web page is what appears in the search engine results page (SERP). This then has a double benefit in that it allows google to understand what your page is about, but also it communicates to the searcher what the page is about. Fixing only the title tags of your pages can often generate quick and big differences to your rankings (http://www.highrankings.com/allabouttitles).

Body copy – content is king

If you are putting a lot of reasourses into your website you want to make sure you create unique and compelling content. There is a lot of duplicated content out there, and Google will penalise you if you are publishing content that is already there. You should also aim for at least 200 – 300 words per page. Another thing you can do to increase your ranking is to support your copy with images. Make sure your image names reflect the image itself. This is especially important on online stores.

Keywords

You have to make sure that people are looking for what you are selling. This is where research comes in. It is fine writing content for yourself, but you can’t expect thousands of hits without doing research. You need to find out what search terms people are using, and then build your pages with these kewords in the page title and copy. You should also use one phrase per page, creating a seperate page for each keyword.

You need to know what search engines are looking for. The search engine makes the best match it can between the words used when searching and matches it to what it has registered in it’s database. The top of page 1 is the best position. To get there you have to make best use of keywords in your webpage’s copy. If you do this your hits will soar. You must pick the right ones to use however.

Conduct research on target users search patterns. Pick search terms and optimise pages specifically for those. It is common sense really – use the words on your website that matches the words your customers use when searching. But how can you find out what your customers are searching for?

Keyword prominence

The top 25% of the page and the bottom 25% of the page are the most important. This is where Google wants to see critical keywords and phrases you want to be ranked by. The bottom of the page is important. Good navigation with good titles enhance googles perception of your site too.

Keyword proximity

As mentioned it is best to have a definite statement that summarises the subject of the page. The rest of the content should be rich in keywords and phrases, but not as heavy as the intro or the lower 25% of the copy. Using too many keywords however will mean that the googlebot spider will treat the content as spam and give up. You should look for a keword density of about 4%.

Keyword tools

http://www.wordtracker.com – paid for keyword tool. £161 for annual subscription or £20 for a one month minimum term. It does have a 100% money back guarantee. There are some great free resources on the academy section of their website.

Nichebot has also a good reputation, although I have not tried it myself.

Accessibility and web standards

Geoffrey Zeldman once said that 99% of all websites were obsolete. It is therefore important to build your website using valid XHTML/HTML, CSS. Tables for layout are a no-no; tables are used to display tabular data. Google likes clean code. Content that is generated with Javascript will be missed by Google.

The semantic web is basically seperating content from layout/design, and making content logical i.e. main heading, sub headings, emphasised copy etc. Navigation is another factor; make sure it is clear, clean and precise. Good use of breadcurmbs helps the user of the website also, Google will also recognise this. All of these come under the usability heading too, with things to consider such as the three click rule.

PageRank

There is a lot of confusion with this term. I myself for a long time thought that page rank was how high my website ranked in search engine results. This is not quite correct. The term PageRank comes from one of Googles founders, Larry Page. He created an algorithm which assigns a numerical value from 0 to 10 to your website based on relevance, authority, usefulness, and clear meaning.

How fast does your site load?

In the early days of web development the 50k rule reigned supreme. If your site was greater than this, those with 56k and less modems would possibly give up. Since the abundance of broadband designers began to get more creative and use graphic heavy designs with not worrying too much about download speeds. However, Google recently announced that it’s algorithm will factor in page load speed in addition to the other 200 or so ranking factors it uses. See http://www.webdesignbooth.com/7-tools-to-optimize-the-speed-of-your-website/ for more information.

Internal links, external links, and in-bound links

Internal links (links that point from one page on your site to another) carry some weight, but not as much as links from external sites to your site (see http://www.seomoz.org/blog/17-ways-search-engines-judge-the-value-of-a-link).

There are many ways to get in-bound links. If you use forums or leave comments on blogs you can usually leave the url of your website. This is a great way to get inbound links. You can also submit your site to business directories such as Yahoo and Google. Another great way is to suggest your site to the Open Directory Project. They will check out your website manually, so if your website is used for spam or has low quality content they will not register it. Check out http://www.dmoz.org.

Things to be aware of

Multiple domains

Google really doesn’t like redirects. If you have lots of domain names for your website/company it is much better creating a keyword heavy page under each domain and provide links to your website from that.

Metadata

Metadata means information about information. As mentioned, the title of your page is the most important.

Next are the meta keywords. These are what you feel your website should be ranked by, however, these are abused by spam websites so they are not relied on by Google. However, it is best to use them and only include specific keywords to the content of the page. You will be penalised otherwise. It is said that Google do not rely on meta keywords, however, a lot of other search engines do.

If you do a search on google you are presented with the website address, title of the page indexed, and introductory text about the site. Where google gets this text from is the meta description. If there is no meta description then google selects copy from the most specific content of your site.

And finally

If you’re passionate about your site’s topic, there are lots of great avenues to engage more users. Start a blog: make videos, do original research, and post interesting stuff on a regular basis. Update your pages regulary. Alter body copy and add images or downloadable pdf files. Get users to add content. Forums. Get people to add reviews. Provide an RSS feed.

One of the best things to do if you are targeting Google is to follow what Google are doing using the information they provide. Check out http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769

You can also implement Google search on your website, as there are two types of web user, searchers and browsers.

Don’t think that you have rewrite your entire site, you can work on things incrementally. Keep an eye on how your site is doing by using Google Analytics (http://www.davinciplanet.com/advanced-google-analytics-hacks/)

Resources

A great site with SEO basics. One of the best SEO sites out there is SEOmoz.org.

Leave a Reply