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An Insider's Guide to SEO Secrets30th Nov 16
Ravi Sundram - IVT's Front End Developer gave us his top 20 tips on how to improve your website and kick start your SEO Campaign.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) after all these years is still a bit of a mystery. In fact, I would say that this applies to a lot of areas within the IT industry (but that is the topic of another article!). Think about it... only a handful of people at Google know how it actually works. So unless we have a friend that we can shout a 6 pack in exchange for a search algorithm, can we truly claim that we know how to make a website achieve a higher rank over another one?
To help the average punter improve their own website without all the hype, I've curated a list of what I deem to be the top 20 industry advice, tips & tricks that will help kick start any SEO campaign (not in any particular order):
1. Keep in mind that average SEO performance results are about 3 to 6 months. Results do not happen overnight. Web surfers start thinking about Christmas trees in September. If you didn't start your SEO campaign for this phrase some time in August, you were late off the boat.
2. You are not trying to beat Google. You are trying to beat your highest ranked competitor.
3. Fresh, useful & relevant content is a must. This does not necessarily mean rewriting pages every month or every week, but you need to make sure that your copyright date is correct, your phone number and email address have not changed and that the products you are selling have not gone out of style or passed their freshness date. Spend less time on fancy graphics & gratuitous animations.
4. Site maps help to make sure that search engine spiders can actually find (crawl) all of your website pages. Make sure that all pages link to at least one other page.
5. Make sure that each and every page of your site is a unique entity. You're better off targeting phrases, not single words. It's also best to target one phrase per page, otherwise your keywords will dilute one another.
6. You should have at least 200 words of copy on each page of your site. You can reach the top of the search engines with a page word count of between 100-1000.
7. Search engines do not place a great deal of value on the content contained within Meta tags, because they have been used too much by spammers. The only real Meta tags you have to focus on is the title, description & alt tag.
8. Your page titles must be as simple, descriptive and relevant as possible, as it will make it easier for the search engines to know what each page of your site is about. What do you want people to find when they land on your home page? And once they are there, where do you want them to go?
9. If your page description is boring and unenticing, searchers may skip right over it, even if your site appears in the top four or five results.
10. It is important that you look at how users will search for your pages, and which specific questions the content of your pages actually answers (customers will often phrase their search term as a question). A large portion of searches carried out contain three words or more & customers search using their own words, not necessarily industry ‘lingo’.
11. Ranking for a singular and plural of the same search term are different.
12. Google is not case sensitive, so HOUSE PLANS, House Plans, house plans are all treated the same.
13. Incoming links are the hardest part of SEO to implement. Think of the search engines as a big election. All the websites in the world are candidates. The copy on your website is your campaign. The links to your website are votes. The more votes (links) a candidate (website) has, the more important it is, and the higher its ranking.
14. Don't use "click here" as the text link for any link, ever.
15. You can put Google to work for you by simply adding your website to the Google Webmaster Tools* that are linked to your Gmail/Google account. It shows you how Google crawls and indexes your site to help diagnose problems, such as broken links. You can see all internal and external links pointing to your site and which search queries are driving the most traffic.
16. Try to keep your website hierarchy fairly flat i.e. each page should only be one to three clicks away from the home page.
17. Design an effective website footer. Use your footer links to help search engines navigate through your site, replicating your main navigation and linking to the most important pages on your site.
18. Not just HTML pages need to be optimised. If your website contains PDF or Word files, these too must be optimised. Google will index all files on your web server that it can find, and these will be included in the overall site ranking algorithm.
19. The Google search engine is like a blind person reading a book in Braille - anything that is graphical, spatial, or visual in nature is simply not seen.
20. There is no guarantee that using any one particular SEO strategy will be successful in either the long or short term for any website, because all factors in the Google algorithm are subject to change. Optimising your site should not be considered as a one-time task. You should always try, test, and refine your efforts.
A Practical Example
A cosmetic dentistry in Toowoomba wants to promote their home page. Here are some recommendations for the keyword, title, description and headline:
Keyword: cosmetic dentistry toowoomba
Title Tag: Cosmetic Dentistry in Toowoomba
Description: We provide a range of affordable cosmetic dentistry to residents in Toowoomba area and beyond. Our services include teeth whitening, reshaping, veneers and dental bridges.
Headline: Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Services
*Tools & Resources
• Google Webmaster Tools - Understand and improve your site in Google Search.
• SEOprofiler - Free SEO tools.
• Google Site Map Generator - Create a site map that that can be submitted to Google.
• WordTracker - Reveal high-performing keywords in minutes.
• Google Alerts - Obtain additional ideas for places to generate links by monitoring keywords related to your niche.
• Trend Report - Allows you to view search engine information about any URL that you enter.
• Google Rankings - See what words & phrases a website uses most.
• Alexa - Traffic metrics across the web.
• Google Guide - Information about Google's capabilities, features and services.
• Copyscape - Search for copies of your pages on the web.
• Google Trends - Tells you which NBA player people are searching for most frequently, or how interest in the word "twerk" hit an all-time high in August 2013.
• SEOzio Tool - A free website SEO analysis report.
• Google Algorithm Change History - Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500-600 times. While most of these changes are minor, occasionally a major algorithmic update (such as Google Panda or Google Penguin) is rolled out.