So you’ve got your website up and running, it’s fully functional and ready to take orders for your product or service. Now you wonder how anyone is going to find your website, especially using search engines like Google.
This is where search engine optimization or ‘SEO’ comes into play.
Here we share 20 top tips that get your website recognized and ranking highly on the search engines for the terms your customers are using.
Before you start optimizing your website, you must put the research into those search terms. You need to target the ones that people are looking for! One of the best tools to use is the Google Keyword Tool (Google it if you need to!). It will tell you how many people are searching for what YOU think are your best keywords and show you what other related terms people use so you can adjust your strategy.
Now you’re ready to carry out the following SEO Dos and Don’ts to get your site noticed.
1) Don’t think that packing your site with your chosen keywords will work, it won’t. Instead write intelligent copy that your customers can read, understand and digest. If you do this, your keywords should naturally occur as you describe your products and services and the benefits they bring.
2) Choose five to twenty keywords to focus on only. By chasing too many you’ll never get the results you’re after. ‘Longtail’ search terms will occur naturally in your website’s content.
3) However your site is built, you need to make sure your keywords are included in the folder names and page titles wherever possible. What do we mean by that? Well, let’s say you sell golf clubs and accessories. You’ll want your homepage title – the words at the top of your browser – to read “Golf Clubs & Accessories –
4) Check that your website content doesn’t have too many keywords in it. Search engines will view this as you trying to trick them. Ideally your keywords will make up 3-5% of your overall content on any given page. More than that, the search engines will not like you – and don’t just focus on the homepage, this applies to EVERY page.
5) Every page title in your website should be different. Using the golf example again “Golf Clubs & Accessories” is fine for your homepage, but the page on 9 irons should have a different title – again with your keywords. So “Golf Clubs – 9 Irons / Nine Irons” would be perfect. Never use more than 70 characters in your pages titles either.
6) Although META Keywords are no longer used, the META description is a useful tool that can drive traffic to your website. It’s the bit that comes under your page name when you do a search in Google, for example, and so should include a call to action. “Wide range of quality golf clubs and accessories in stock now. Call [phone number] or visit our website.” – is a good META description.
7) Add style to the keywords on your pages – use header text, bold, italics – it will not only help your customers see what you’re about at a glance, but will also indicate to the search engines what are the most important words on your pages.
8) ALWAYS name any images you use using keywords and add an ALT tag with a description too. For example: nike-graphite-9-iron.jpg with an ALT tag that reads “Nike Graphite 9-Iron”. Search engines LOVE this and you should do it with every image you have.
9) When using internal links on your website, do it intelligently. Don’t just use ‘Products’ to link to your main products page, use the keywords, like “Golf Clubs & Accessories”.
10) Every website should have a sitemap which lists all the pages on your site. Create one (there are online tools to do so) and upload it to the same place your homepage file (index file) is stored.
11) Don’t worry that you’ll have to update your sitemap every time you add new content. Create and upload a simple robots.txt file – these tell search engines what you allow or disallow them to add to their search engine – add your sitemap location to the robots.txt and you won’t have to submit it to the search engines manually like above. There are plenty of resources online that tell you how to create a robot.txt file online – do a search.
12) Link out to websites that are related to your business using anchor text that contains your keywords. So for example, you could link to local golf clubs – locality is also a brilliant way of getting your site ranked.
13) Update the content of your website regularly. One great way of doing this is to add a blog to your site, where you can post regular articles – at LEAST once a week.
Now you need people to link to you – this is vitally important for search engine optimization and not easy, but here are some things to consider.
14) First of all, you need the right people to link to you. You know those local golf clubs you linked to earlier – ask them for a link back and tell them you already link to them. Send them the link you’d like – the keyword rich one. “Golf Clubs & Accessories” and the page you want them to link to. Your homepage probably, but you might have a more relevant page like your products page.
Joining local business agencies like your local Chamber of Commerce will also likely get you a link back without too much effort.
15) Consider creating a “Link To Us” page with ready made linking text and / or images other sites can use. That guarantees they will use the keywords you want and makes it easier for them to do it in the first place.
16) Write for other blogs and websites, not just your own. This gives you the opportunity to link back to your site – but only when it’s helpful, don’t go over the top – and start building your reputation as an expert in your field. If people discuss what you’re talking about, it is inevitable they will link to your site eventually.
17) Submit your site to online directories like DMOZ (free) and Yahoo! (fee). Free ones are best but the Yahoo! one is worth the fee. Most others aren’t…bear that in mind.
18) Offer free content like an eBook giving golf tips and people will not only download it, helping build your brand, but link to it so others can download it – yet more links that search engines love!
19) Got a new product or service launching? Send out a press release to your local and national press and link to yourself in it. Many who run your story will include that link!
20) List yourself on Google Places so you will show up on Google Maps. Your ranking for local searches – “golf accessories [your town]” for example – will improve.
Search engine optimization is a slow and ongoing process but implement the 20 tips we’ve just given you and you’ll be on your way. Just remember to keep up with the things that need doing regularly and review the rest every few months to make sure you’re still targeting the right keywords.
Trevor Richards is writing on behalf of Fluid Creativity, a full service digital agency in Manchester offering search engine optimization services.