20 steps to getting a better search engine ranking in Google search

20 steps to getting a better search engine ranking in Google search

1. Make sure that each page has a different title

The title of each page is very important to good search engine ranking. It should be about 60 – 70 characters long and describe the content of the page. It is not necessary to include the name of the website within the title of the page. The title is shown in search results and should therefore be used to entice visitor to click the link to your site. 

2. Ensure that each page has a different and informative description

The meta-description is also important to good search engine ranking. This should be about 140 characters long, describing the contents of the page and be easy to read.

3. Don’t overstuff your keywords meta tag with too many keywords

The keywords meta tag are ignored by many search engines. Use for common misspellings of words on the page.

4. Make sure that your webpages validate at the w3c website

Ensure that you include a DOCTYPE declaration.

5. Make sure that each page in your site has interesting content

This will ensure that other sites want to link to your site. The best way to get links to your site is through ‘genuine’ recommendations in the form of links from other related and reputable sites.

6. Don’t use a splash page for your site

Splash pages may look good, but can act as a barrier to both visitors and search engines.

7. Avoid using Javascript menus which search engines aren’t able to crawl

Although some menus can look great, there is a possibility that you may be preventing search engines and some visitors from accessing the pages linked from the menu.

8. Make sure you don’t place valuable content in images

All your valuable content should be textual and not presented in images, Flash movies, animated gifs, etc.

9. Make sure that if your site is dynamically generated, that you are not using too many URL parameters (3 maximum)

Google will pick up page with more than 3 URL parameters, but some of those pages may end up as ‘supplementary results’ (these are second class results). Ensure that you don’t pass session IDs (or anything that may look like a session ID) in URLs.

10. Don’t use bulk search engine submission programmes or services

Although still marketed widely, bulk submission programmes are worthless. It is a much better use of time finding related and reputable sites to get links from.

11. Don’t use unnecessary meta tags (e.g. author, copyright, classification etc)

These simply add to the size of your pages and don’t have any beneficial effect. The most important tags for search engine ranking are title tag and the description meta tag.

12. Don’t prevent search engines from visiting your site when they want to by excluding them with the robots tag

By all means, use the robots.txt file to restrict search engines from ‘private’ areas of your site, but make sure that you are not also preventing them from accessing your prime content as and when they want to. 

13. Try not to use deprecated markup such as font tags

By using CSS you make your site more future-proof, accessible from more browsers and also (potentially) more search engine friendly.

14. Try to use CSS instead of HTML and tables for styling

By separating styling from content using CSS, you reduce the complexity of each of your website’s pages and make site wide changes easier. Also, this helps increase the content to HTML ratio, thereby possibly helping with search engine ranking.

15. Reference an included JavaScript file rather than using it within your HTML

Many pages on the web are littered with JavaScript. This saves bloat and makes maintenance easier. Move all JS to a separately referenced .JS file instead.

16. Make sure that you target keywords and phrases that are likely to be used by your target visitors

Avoid using industry buzzwords if you are promoting B2C products and services.

17. Include a sitemap to provide easy access to the main pages within your site

Try to keep the number of links on each page at no more than 50 – 100. Use multiple pages if required. Structure the site map for human visitors not just search engines.

18. Make sure that you include alt-text (alternative text) for all images on your site

Alt-text are the little yellow popups that are shown when you hover a mouse over the images on your site. These will benefit visitors with disabilities as well as providing a small SEO benefit.

19. Don’t get hung-up on PageRank

Page Rank is just one measure of the importance of a page, not the only one!

20. Write for human visitors not search engines

It is often very easy to try to optimise for search engines and forget that the content within your site needs to be read by humans. Make sure that pages are well structured using headings, paragraphs, bold, italics, bullet points (all using CSS). Break long pages into a number of smaller pages. About 400 – 600 characters for each page is enough.

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