Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a
web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Here are 10 tips to make your website search engine friendly:
- Keyword research
- Get some (trustworthy) advice
- Look after your code
- Make navigation easy
- Get links
- Build a sitemap
- Don’t forget the technical stuff
- Track your progress
- Tell the search engines where you are
- Content is king
1. Keyword Research is the first step in any Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Take the time to figure out what words are used by the people you want to visit your site, and then use these words on the relevant page. For example, if a potential customer is searching for ‘class c widgets’, you need to make sure the relevant web page on your site contains the words ‘class c widgets’. Make sure you use these keywords in the first few words of your page title (the blue bar at the top of your webpage) because this is the most important bit of the page from a search engines perspective. You should do this for all the pages in your site, but remember don’t just stuff the keywords in there; it still needs to make sense to humans!
2. Get some good advice from SEO sources on the web. Unfortunately, not everyone knows as much as they say they do online and far too often SEO forums are full of bad advice so choose your sources well. We recommend:
There are also plenty of people out there who believe you can scam the search engines. We don’t. Stick to ethical SEO (i.e. don’t fill the page with hidden keywords) and you will be rewarded in the long term
3. Looking after your code means building a website that is easy for the search engines to understand. Your website should make use of up to date technologies like Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to minimise the amount of formatting in the HTML page code. Remove the formatting and you’re left with pure content – and search engines love that.
4. Make navigation easy by building clear text links to all parts of your site. Search engines can’t follow image links or clever animated links like Flash, they like their navigation plain and simple – and so do many users.
5. Get links from trusted, relevant sources. Links are like a vote for your page and you can’t rank well without them. Unfortunately, buying links or being indiscriminate in the places you link to and places you request links from, is no longer a good way to raise the importance of your site; think quality not quantity.
Links must be relevant to the content matter of your site and they must be from high-quality websites. Also, try to use keywords in the links you have coming into your site. For example, ‘View our Industrial Pumps catalogue on Kellysearch’ is a much better incoming link than ‘View our catalogue on Kellysearch’
6. Build a sitemap page to help the search engines discover every page in your site. The best sitemaps list the pages in your site along with brief keyword-rich descriptions of the page. If you have too many pages on your site, create as many sitemaps as you need and make sure they’re linked together.
7. Don’t forget the technical stuff, there are lots of things that happen in the background that can cause problems with the way the search engines see your site.
For example, if you use a cheap web hosting company, you might be bundled on to the same web server as a pornographic site that Google really doesn’t like – guilt by association. Also, does your website use techniques that search engines don’t like, like certain types of redirection? Just a few simple questions should be enough to recognise if your web design company know what they are talking about, such as:
1) Does my site use 302 (bad) redirects or 301 (good) redirects?
2) Should I be using Meta Description tags? Answer: Yes, but only to encourage searchers to click through to my site, not as SEO.
8. Track your progress with a web analytics program. There are lots of free options to use; Google Analytics in particular is easy to use and versatile. Web analytics can tell you a great deal about how people interact with your site and how much traffic the search engines are sending you. Here you can track the progress of any changes that you make to see if they are working.
9. Tell the search engines where you are by submitting your site details to them. This doesn’t guarantee a better position in the results, but it certainly helps. Both Google and Yahoo have a facility to submit a list of all the pages in your site:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Yahoo Site Explorer
If you verify your site with Google & Yahoo (instructions are on the site, although the process does require some technical skill) you will also get lots of valuable information about how well and how often your site is being examined by the search engines.
10. Content is King. It was true in the beginning of the World Wide Web and it’s true now. Build great content and keep it up to date, search engines love sites like blogs, which are regularly refreshed. At the end of the day, even a site that ranks well and gets lots of visitors is no good if the visitors don’t like what they see.