I’ve recently been learning SEO as part of a new job role I’m undertaking, I was surprised at how broad the subject was and indeed how much their is to learn.
At the time of writing, I’ve managed to get a site from page 12 in Google to the top of page 3 in a little over 3 weeks for a relatively competitive keyword, which I’m quite happy with!
Here is a little list of eight things (not in any order or anything) I think any aspiring SEO’er should know:
You may think the titles of each of your web pages are for aesthetic purposes only, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
The keywords you use on your page titles play a major role in how / where you appear in search engine rankings, for example:
Your company ‘Lovely Websites Inc.’ have designed a great new website, it’s even got ajax on it, yeah, ajax. Now you may feel naming your pages ‘Lovely Website Inc. | Homepage’, ‘Lovely Website Inc. | Portfolio’ etc will look great, and that may be the case. Unfortunately however, this won’t have any affect in helping your site get found for your desired keywords.
If ‘Lovely Websites Inc’ was based in London, UK, it would be far more beneficial to use your services and location as your title, i.e. ‘Website Design London | Lovely Websites Inc’ as this will associate your site with those keywords.
Try and put yourself in the shoes of a customer searching for your services on the internet, and what they’d put into Google when searching for your products.
Using carefully chosen keywords throughout the titles, content and headers will help your rankings for those keywords in search engines.
2. HTML document names
It’s tempting to give your html documents straightforward names, such as your portfolio page ‘portfolio.htm’ but that doesn’t help search engines all that much. Try and use your keywords in the name of the document, so for example if it’s your portfolio page, why not name your document ‘your-name-portfolio.htm’ and this should help you rank a little higher for your name if it is also used elsewhere in your site.
The same applies to blog posts, some blogs are set up to display their dynamic URL’s as ‘journal.php?post=28′, this again doesnt help Google. If you’re using WordPress make sure your permalinks are configured correctly to aid the search engines in crawling your website.
the links into your website have began to play a major part in search engine rankings, the more popular and trusted the site that is linking to your site then the more important it is.
Gone are the days when simply placing your website on link farms and directory sites would get your site higher in the rankings, they will probably now have the opposite effect and rank your site lower in search results.
Try and get high quality, contextual links into your site and don’t forget the anchor text. If the anchor text of the link to your website is one of your keyword phrases then Google etc will associate your website with that phrase if enough high quality websites do the same i.e. Instead of a link to your site being ‘lovely website Inc’ use ‘web design London’ or other desired keywords.
As well as links to your site from other websites, take a look at links pointing to your site from the rest of your own web pages. For example, if you haven’t got additional navigation in your footer pointing back to the homepage, about us page etc, insert these on every page and that is instanly a lot more in-pointing links for your site.
4. Your content
Getting links from other websites, which I mentioned above, is one of the hardest and most important aspects of SEO, as you have to have some content that people will find interesting enough to want to link to or pass on.
This is why the content on your site must be fresh, original and above all, linkable! Make sure if you write content and it links in to other peoples content, then let them know and they may just return the favour!
Look at what people are writing about, what’s on the front page of digg, delicious etc and write about these popular topics. Writing link-bait is one of the hardest, but most profitable things an author can do.
As I mentioned previously, in-pointing links can also aid SEO. Having a sitemap on your site can provide an index of all of your webpages, this will not just aid in search engine terms, but it will also help a user navigate your site when looking for low-level pages in your website.
As well as a ‘physical’ sitemap that a user can use on your site, it’s important that you submit a sitemap.XML to Google so they can thoroughly crawl and index it. Take a look at Webmaster tools for more information on this.
There is a lot of debate in the SEO world that having a lot of links out of your website can have a detremental effect on your own. I tend to think that without links pointing out, you dont have much chance of getting links from other sites unless you’re constantly writing new content.
Don’t go overboard but by all means, provide your readers with plenty of outgoing links, preferably to great, interesting websites!
7. H1, H2, H3….
If you have the ability to edit the headings on your page then it’s certainly beneficial to do so, these hold more rank the ‘bigger’ the heading, H1 ranks first, then H2, then H3 etc.
Try and use your keywords as many times as possible in your headings, but don’t spam or the search engines will punish you!
8. Having a standards-friendly website
Although this doesn’t directly affect rankings (i.e. If you alter your website to be standards efficient you won’t suddenly be top of page 1 for your chosen keyword), you can still benefit from having a website that meets standards. If your site isn’t, you risk Google not being able to crawl certain parts, or even all of your website!
This is a very quick and dirty list meant for people wanting to find out the absolute bare bones of SEO. Got any feedback or further suggestions for SEO beginners? Feel free to add some hints and tips in the comments below!
Look out for more SEO related posts soon on a web design blog!