A 10-minute, quick-start guide on optimizing for better ranking.
To show up in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines, each page of your site needs to be optimized to the best of your ability. Since the keywords that you decide to target will be used throughout the optimization process, choosing the right ones is essential. If you choose the wrong keywords, you face the risk of not being found organically.
Why being found organically matters? Because you no longer need to spend marketing dollars for ads that would get you to the top for the same keyword search. Let me explain.
Due to the enormous amount of competition for general terms in search engines, if your keywords are too general it is very unlikely that you will rank high enough to be found, especially if the website is new.
You stand a far better chance to rank well for specific phrases where there is less competition. The resulting traffic – since it’s more targeted – should also be much higher quality, too!
What would your users search for when looking for the page that you are optimizing?
It is very easy to fall in the trap of coming up with a list of what YOU would search for, but what about everyone else? They will not necessarily use the same keywords as you. Try asking friends and family for what THEY would search for when looking for a site/product/service like yours.
Do a search using keywords that you already know you want to target and click through the top sites that the search returns.
Once on the site, view the source HTML code and pay attention to the keywords they have in their meta tags – this should give you many more ideas! To view the HTML code simply click the ‘View’ at the top of your web browser then select ‘Source’, or ‘Page Source’ (Ctrl+U).
This might sound obvious to some, but make sure to only use keywords that relate to YOUR site. If you stuff your page with a bunch of unrelated keywords, you will be looked upon as a spammer, and will eventually get blacklisted.
Without a question, the TITLE tag of your page is one of the most important elements to consider when optimizing your website.
This is because most search engines & directories place a high level of importance on keywords that are found in your title tag – after all this is what your website/page is about. The TITLE tag is also what search engines use for the title of your search listing within their search results.
It is recommend that your TITLE tag is between 50–80 characters long, including spaces. The length varies based on search engine, but as long as you keep it within this range, you should be OK.
The copy (text) on your page is also very important in order to achieve better search engine ranking. Actually, it is just as important as your TITLE tag.
Just like any visitor would read the copy on your page to get an idea of what you have to offer search engines do the ame. And what do you think search engines are looking for when they index your page copy? Keywords and phrases, of course!
Meta tags were originally created to help search engines find out important information about your page that they might have had difficulty determining otherwise.
Many people incorrectly believe that good meta tags are all that is needed to achieve higher listings in search engines. While meta tags are usually always part of a well optimized page, they are not the 'be all' and 'end all' of optimizing your pages. In the early days of the web people were able to get great listings from optimizing just their meta tags, but the increasing competition for good search engine listings eventually led to many people spamming the search engines with keyword stuffed meta tags. The result is that search engines have changed what they look at when they rank a website.
Search engines now usually look at a combination of elements, that being said, there are two meta tags that can help your search engine listings : keywords & description.
Description meta tag:
<meta name=”description” content=”This would be your description of what is on your page. Your most important keyword phrases should appear in this description.”>
Keywords meta tag:
<meta name=”keywords” content=”keywords phrase 1, keyword phrase 2, keyword phrase 3, etc.”>
The correct placement for both meta tags is between the
</head> tags within the HTML the makes up your page. Their order does not really matter, but most people usually place the description first then the keywords meta.
Did you know that any image on your page can help your listings too? Each image on your page can include a keyword phrase or two that relates to the image. This text will also show up and help those with vision problems, further increasing the usability.
<img src=”image_name.gif” width=”10" height=”10" alt=”Image description“>
Using more than a brief sentence or two to describe an image will most likely be frowned upon by search engines.
There are several things considered as “spamming” that you can do to try to get your page listed higher. One thing to always keep in mind is that you should never try to trick a search engine in any way, or you risk being blacklisted by them. Since the majority of your traffic will come from search engines, the risk far outweighs the benefits in the long run. Below is a list of the more common things it is recommended that you never do when trying to achieve better listings.
Here’s how long it takes to get listed at each of the major search engines once you have submitted your website.
Did you know that text-based hyperlinks can help improve your listing in search engines? Search engines essentially figure that if you are linking to something from your page, whatever it is you are linking to is likely to be closely related to the content of your page. For that reason, some of the engines actually look for keywords in the hyperlinks and any text immediately surrounding the hyperlinks. What this means for you, is that if you can, you should, include your most important keyword phrases in the link itself, and possibly the surrounding text…
HTML heading tags can greatly help improve your listings in search engines, too! Since they are “headings”, search engines figure that they are very closely related to the content of the page that they appear on. So, just like with all of your other optimization efforts, you should include your most important keyword phrases in heading tags throughout the page.
HTML heading tags have 4 different sizes/authority levels, and are formatted as you see below.
<h1>Heading Size 1</h1>
<h2>Heading Size 2</h2>
<h3>Heading Size 3 </h3>
<h4>Heading Size 4</h4>
I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!