It’s Not Sexy; it is SEO – My Thoughts on Improving Your Website’s SEO Ranking
We all have received emails (spam) from many companies offering to get your site ranked in the top of Google, Yahoo and Bing. The truth is there is no simple, magical way to instantly fix your rankings in search engines. Improving your rankings takes research, planning and good old fashion work.
If you are going to go on a ‘SEO Quest’, here is my abbreviated list of things to do to your website:
- Build a XML sitemap listing all of the pages you want the search engines to index and submit that file link to the major search engines. This file gives the search engines a list of the pages in your site instead of hoping the search engines will find all of your pages.
- Use descriptive folder names that make sense to people and computers (/boats/model124) instead of generic or cryptic names like “products” or “products?id=1534”.
- Write descriptive page titles, such as “Acme Boats – 2011 Models”.
- Write descriptive page descriptions that summarize each individual page. Search engines will use this description under your link so take time to get it right. This description should make the search engine visitor want to click on your link above the others on the search engine results page.
- Use breadcrumbs as part of your navigation which counts both as text links and at the same time shows humans where they are in your site.
- Use text links to link between your internal pages as well as outside sites instead of images. Search engines give more value to text links because they are visible to humans and less likely to be spammy. These links to your own pages can score you some SEO points.
- Your menu should be built from a text based ordered list instead of images. This also helps the disabled who use readers to browse your site. Search engines can easily read these also.
- Social media links on your site will make it easier for visitors to talk about you. When they do, those links to your site will enhance your rankings and drive traffic to your site.
- Use H1 through H5 tags to outline your content. H1 would be the title then work your way through the tags in order of importance on the page. For example:
Acme Boats – (H1)
Fishing Boats – (H2)
Under 22 Ft Boats – (H3)
This tells the search engines and human visitor which items belong to which heading or sub-heading.
- Use your keywords in the context of your page. Remember that your customers or potential customers will be reading the content. So, the copy should be written for them but include your keywords. Do not flood your content with so many keywords so that the search engines will love it but your visitors do not understand what you are trying to tell them. Your visitor will not find what they want and move on to the next site. The visitor is the ultimate target.
- Spend some time doing research to find where your competitors rank on the keywords you believe your potential customers would use to find you or your products. How well do you rank on the same keywords?
- Content is king. The more content you have on your site about the topics or products that you sell will make you more authoritative for those subjects. Potential customer will use your site to validate you and the products you sell. Make sure that once they get to your site they get the information needed to proceed to the next step in purchasing what you are selling.
I know I will get emails saying I missed something but these are the methods that have generated the greatest success for me. There are many other things you can do to improve SEO as well as drive traffic to your site but this is already a pretty long blog!
If your site is built with a modern CMS, for example our FlipperSiteDeveloper hosted application it is pretty simple to update these items. For items 1 through 10 we have built in tools that greatly reduced the time it takes to keep these items current. If you have a static site you can still follow the steps above, it is just more work.