Being found in the search engines is crucial to any business. Being found on the first page is a bonus. Why do SEO? From research conducted by Vertical Measures:
- 93% of all buyers online or in stores use search prior to making a purchase
- 86% conduct non-branded queries (i.e. not using your name)
- 94% click organic vs paid links for branded queries
Here are 10 tips to make sure your website is as good as it can be.
- Keyword research
- Website page structure
- Title tags
- Meta Description tags
- Alt tags
- Inbound links
- Content and headings
- Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Domain name renewal
- Stop using the Meta keywords tag!
1. Keyword Research
You need to know what people are using to find your type of service TODAY before you do anything. Once you know your top phrases most likely to help you rank favourably, you can start to build your website structure. Don’t do this task after you have built your website!
You can use the free Google Keyword Planner tool and an Excel spreadsheet to keep everything organized.
2. Website Page Structure
Use your keywords to help you lay your Site Map out. For example, your keyword phrases may be:
- professional web design
- email newsletters
- seo (highly unlikely)
- google analytics
In this case your naming structure would be:
And if you are using Yoast’s WordPress for SEO plugin, there are some great opportunities to put this into practice and help your site rank well.
3. ‘Title’ Tags
This is one of the most important places in a web page to place your keywords into. It’s a hidden tag, located in the <head> of a web page.
- We recommend using 1 or 2 of your main keyword phrases for the page separated by a | pipe character. For example, Keyword Phrase 1 | Keyword Phrase 2
- Use your top-researched phrase first.
- Try to limit the length to 67 characters (including spaces) or less as sometimes, a search engine will cut off your tag and replace it with a “…” if there are more.
- If you have to incorporate your company name for branding purposes, “Professional Web Design & Development | Market 2 All” is better than just, “Professional Web Design & Development”, right?
- Avoid “stop” words such as is, and, the, of, it.
- Don’t repeat keywords.
- Include your top keyword phrases logically, in a way that reads well, and describes what is on the page. Don’t just list them for the sake of listing them. Remember that you want people to click on your link.
4. ‘Meta Description’ Tags
Google ignores this tag for ranking but may display it if the keyword used is not present in your body copy. Also, Facebook imports it (along with the title tag) when you include a link in a post.
We recommend 150 characters or less (and 140 for a blog post) and definitely mention your company name.
5. Alt Tags
An Alt tag is text behind an image on your page. It describes what the image is to a browser and search engine, and is also read by screen readers.
If you add a link to an image to a page, the receiving page benefits from the words used in the Alt tag.
6. Inbound links
These are your “bread and butter” in Google’s eyes, probably making up 70% importance in your ranking. They are links from other web pages or more importantly, domain names.
The best inbound links are ones that come from authoritative, trusted domain names (e.g. business.com, usatoday.com). If the link contains your keyword phrase in their link text, that’s a great link to get. For example:
The best link to have is the first one. You can check your current links using the free Open Site Explorer and also see what your competitors are using. But where to get inbound links? These are the “low hanging fruit” links:
- Internal website links from internal page to internal page
- Blog & forum participation
- Friend- and family-run web sites
- Clients and suppliers – testimonials
- Local organizations, Associations, Chambers of Commerce profiles
- Social media profiles
- Google Places listings
7. Content and Headings
The meat of the website, what the search engines love to scan for keywords and relevant content. Before we start, let’s get something straight. You should ALWAYS write your copy for your customers and visitors, not the search engines. After all, the search engines don’t actually buy anything.
You need to prepare 600-800 words of copy for a Web page, integrating the 2 or 3 phrases for that page into the copy so it makes sense to the visitor. Use keywords in your main heading tags (H1 and H2), close to the top of the page, and bold keyword text.
8. Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
Register your domain name and Site Map file (you should have one, WordPress will generate one) with both Google and Bing then use the Webmaster Tools to set your dominant domain, register your Site Map files, check keyword phrases and more.
When you make a new post, your Site Map file gets updated and “pings” the search engines watching that file.
9. Domain Name Renewal
Keep your domain name renewed for more than a year. Check out this video on age of a domain from Google’s Matt Cutts:
10. Stop using the ‘Meta Keywords’ Tag!
It’s dead. Stop using it.
Please let us know if you have any questions or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you about your best SEO technique.