Different search engines determine rankings in different ways, so it’s worth bearing these in mind when optimising a website.
Google is the undisputed leader in search. Therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s also the hardest to gain high rankings in. Google looks for natural link growth over time, tends to be biased towards informational resources, trusts old websites, and link quality is far more important than quantity.
Yahoo! is slightly different in that off-topic reciprocal linking still works, and it has a paid inclusion programme which results in an incentive to bias search results towards commercial results.
MSN is similar to Yahoo! in that its search algorithm is nowhere near as sophisticated as Google’s. As a result off-topic reciprocal linking still works, and it places a disproportionately high emphasis on page content, meaning that new sites can rank quickly in MSN.
There are 4 main steps when optimising a website, with the focus being on obtaining high rankings in Google:
Identify what potential customers are likely to enter into search engines when searching for your product or service. These keywords will form the basis of the whole optimisation process. Popular generic words or phrases should be avoided initially, such as ‘advertising’. Instead, identify less popular keyword phrases such as ‘small business advertising’.
However, it’s no use identify long targeted keyword phrases if no one is searching for them as high rankings will still result in no website traffic. There’s currently no 100% reliable tool when it comes to assessing search volumes for particular keywords, but one of the best free tools is the SEO Book Keyword Tool – not only does it give estimated search volumes but it also provides you with a huge number of related keywords.
Title Tag – this is the title of your site – as seen at the top of the browser window. All important keywords should be included here, in a format that users can understand and are encouraged to click-through. The ideal title tag is 60-80 characters in length.
Meta Tags – abuse of Meta tags has resulted in search engines paying significantly less attention to them compared to in the early days of the internet. However, they should not be neglected, as indicated by the fact that Google actually recommends writing different meta tags for each individual web page. Length-wise, keep meta tags to within 200 characters.
Site Map – always include a site map as it helps search engines to navigate and index each page in your site.
Internal Linking – link to each page in your site as you would if it was an external link. In other words, use keyword-rich links instead of ‘click here’ text.
Mirror Sites – avoid creating a website that is identical across two domain names, such as the .co.uk and .com versions. Instead, redirect users from one to the other. For example, if the .com version is the actual name of your site, if someone enters .co.uk have them redirected to the .com site, shown by .co.uk becoming .com in the address bar.
Website Design – flash web sites are a disaster when it comes to SEO. Search engines cannot read flash so 100% flash web sites are seen as having no content. Therefore bear this in mind – use flash sparingly, and certainly don’t include the bulk of your navigational links in flash or search engines simply won’t be able to navigate your site.
Web Pages – there’s a wide debate regarding the ideal number of words on a web page when viewed from a search engine ranking point of view, but it’s generally considered to be between 300 and 500 words. However, the first 100 words are the most important and as a result they should include all keywords and keyword phrases, with keyword density being 5-12%. Use a good keyword density checker to check the keyword density of your web pages. However, don’t neglect human visitors – good website copyrighting should be able to combine the two demands from search engines and human visitors.
The basis of the internet is built on links, so it’s not surprising that search engines see links as a valuable indicator of the importance of a web site. These days the quality of incoming links is more important than quality, signalled by Google PageRank (PR).
As a good basis for generating one-way links submit your web site to directories.
Consider purchasing links from web sites with a high page rank – going via Text-Link-Ads is the main way to do this.
You could write and submit articles online to increase your link popularity.
Competitor Intelligence – see what your competitors are doing. If they have high rankings what incoming links do they have? Those websites may also be interested in adding your link.
Write Good Page Content
Relevance and quality is what matters in a group of unique web pages, each with its own set of keywords. Now you need to make sure you write content relevant to those keywords, and also make sure it is good quality – for the purpose of retaining your visitors. If it’s not what they expected to read, they will leave.
When writing your web page content you should ensure you use your keywords just a few times times within the copy, usually in the opening paragraph, once or twice in the middle, and in the final paragraph.The number of times it should appear will depend on your page copy word count. The general average is 3-4 times per 500 words. Whatever you do, don’t stuff your web page with keywords. It will not help and it may well hinder you – overdoing it by literally spamming your own web page could get your website penalised. You could drop in the search engine rankings and lose PR (PageRank) score as a result.
How the spider crawls the page
As the spider works its way down the web page starting at the top with the title meta tag, it goes through the description and header tags. It then needs to see your page is still relevant to the search, so you remind it by dropping the keywords in every so often. You should also use synonyms and other relevant words connected to your product or service. So whilst we might use web host, website hosting and free web hosting as our keywords on our Free Web Hosting page, we will also use php hosting, Linux server, bandwith, cPanel or other appropriate and relevant words to our subject matter for that page.
Web Page Content Checklist
- good grammar
- engaging content
- content that flows
- frequent paragraphs
- a font type and size that is easy to read
- headings and sub headings
- anchor text or internal linking
- other relevant words
- occasional bold, underlined or italic font
- a good headline to attract readers attention
- short and snappy lines in between short paragraphs
- around 300-500 words per page if possible