The Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) industry is a lucrative one and is often shrouded in secrecy giving website and business owners the impression it’s a mystical art….. But is it?
Getting your website to the top of search engine results is becoming more and more important. Google is secretive about the algorithm they use to decide which sites appear at the top of their listings and it’s constantly evolving as people find different ways to exploit it. The main message from Google is that as long as you are providing good quality and relevant content then you should find your site ranking well. We're by no means SEO experts, however there are a few tips that everyone should take into account when trying to increase their visibility on search engines. We have focused mainly on Google as it is by far the most popular search engine but the majority of information will help with your SEO on other search engines too. We thought it would be useful to provide our readers with a weekly tip for increasing your SEO naturally.
Week 1: Pick your Keywords carefully
Use Google’s keyword tools, it’s free and allows you to type in search terms to see how many times the phrase is searched for, what the competition is and other similar phrases suggested by Google. You should pick a balance between lower competition and high volume of searches and keep your keywords focused.
Week 2: Meta Data
Ensure that you have a unique Meta title and Meta description per page, this is the data that is shown in Google’s search results. Make sure it contains your keywords that relate to that specific page but avoid using a string of words and commas; this can make Google think you are just trying to cram in your keywords and cheat the system. Google explicitly states that they don’t take Meta tags into account in their search results; however other search engines do so it’s advisable to put them in anyway.
Week 3: Heading tags
The second most important tags as far as Google are concerned are your < H1 > and < H2 > tags. You should ensure your website has one single unique < H1 > tag per page and as many < H2 > tags as you like. When writing this content you should also consider your Keywords.
Week 4: Content
Search engines read your content from top to bottom so the closer to the top your main content is the better. Consider your keywords but don’t overdo it, search engines could penalise you and your content needs to make sense to the users first and foremost.
Week 5: Images and Files
Google currently prefers file names to be hyphenated; it sees underscores as continuation of text so stick to formats such as fastnet-logo.jpg as opposed to fastnet_logo.jpg. You should also use file names that contain your keywords where possible whilst keeping it relevant to the image itself. Don’t forget to add alt tags and title tags to the images throughout your site, this can only help with your SEO, keep your keywords in mind here too.
Week 6: Links
Try to avoid hyperlinks (anchor text) that just say ‘click here’ use anchor text that is relevant to the page you are linking to, for example:
To see our award winning Business Fibre products click here
Why not take a look at our award winning Business Fibre products
Week 7: Site Loading times
You should aim to have your site loading as quickly as possible, the longer it takes to load the more likely it is that search engines will penalise your ranking for reduced usability. Use a free online tool such as Pingdom, this tool will test your site and tell you where it ranks when compared with other sites. If you’re in the top 50% of sites recently tested you shouldn’t worry.
Week 8: Don’t duplicate content
You should keep all content throughout your site unique, this helps search engines realise that your content is valuable, duplicated content can reduce your site quality as far as users and search engines are concerned. As well as keeping content across our site unique, you should avoid duplicating content from other people’s sites, search engines can pick up on this and your sites’ ranking will be affected.
Week 9: Keep it fresh
Search engines love fresh content, the more your site is updated and new content is added the better as your site is seen as being more relevant. A good way to do this is through Blogging. As a general rule Blogs should publish articles about once a week to build and keep an audience.
Week 10: Google Webmaster Tools
Take full advantage of the Webmaster Tools that Google has on offer, you’ll need to sign up for an account, if you’ve got Gmail, Google analytics or a G+ account you’ll be all set to go. Using webmaster tools you can submit a site map to help Google crawl your site more efficiently and ensure they capture the entirety of your site. Webmaster tools will also show you where there are errors on your site and any potential issues that might cause it to not be ranking as highly as it could be. There are plenty of guides that will help you to put Webmaster Tools to good use.
Week 11: Social Networks
You should have a presence on as many networks as possible these include but are not limited to; Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube. The more active social networking accounts you have the more it will improve your SEO. Social networking is becoming more and more important to SEO as it is a very powerful way for users to share valuable content on the web, if your site gets shared based purely on its content your sites reputation and therefor search engine visibility will improve. You can use a site called Klout to see how your social reputation is progressing. It looks at your social influence by taking into account where your posts are reaching and the influence of the people that follow your accounts.
Week 12: PageRank
You should keep an eye on your PageRank. It’s a score out of 10 and is based on your sites quality and authority. Google uses a whole heap of factors to determine your PageRank, most of which are not common knowledge. A score between 1 and 5 is average and top ranks above 7 are reserved for massive sites such as Amazon, BBC and Facebook. You can download an add-on for FireFox or Chrome browsers or just use the Google Toolbar in Internet Explorer, these will show the PageRank of the sites you are visiting. The PageRank is mainly determined by the content and quality of Links to and from your site as well as how established your domain is. The better your PageRank the more your page will show up in Google’s search results.
Week 13: Backlinks
You should keep an eye on external sites that link back to yours. The more trusted the website is that contains a link back to your site the better.
Watch out for low quality links back to your site from pages such as paid directories. Any long lists of hyperlinks off to different websites should use a ‘Nofollow’ tag to tell search engines not take it into account for indexing and PageRank, for example:
"< a href="www.fastnet.co.uk" rel="nofollow">FastNet"
You should also use ‘Nofollow’ when placing site wide links on other peoples sites, for example if you are a web developer and you place a link to your site at the bottom of your clients sites, especially if they are all hosted on the same server. Google sees the practice of site wide links (that are not tagged ‘Nofollow’) as low quality links, this could negatively affect your SEO.
Week 14: Reciprocal Links
Avoid linking to sites just because they link to you, this is seen by Google as someone linking to you just to increase their search engine visibility.
Week 15: Keep up to date
Google and other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to decide which results are given higher priority; to keep up to date with these changes you should keep an eye on Goggle's webmaster blog.
That concludes our SEO Tips, we hope you have found them useful.