Google tips: Improve your search ranking
Tips and Tricks for Google
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has emerged as the effective process for online marketing. To get the maximum return from your investment you need to make sure your website is properly structured as well as being both user and search engine friendly.
Here are some SEO tips that should be followed to get the best results from Google:
Try to purchase a domain name that reflects what you do or sell. If possible it should contain keywords relevant to your business, e.g. designer-bathrooms.co.za. However, be aware that Google have recently indicated they may pay less relevance to this in the future.
Once you have your domain it pays to identify the keywords or phrases that people will use in their search for your product or services. Use the free Google keyword tool to help you.
Be aware that by using services that block domain ownership information you risk Google perceiving you as a potential spammer.
In the early stages when getting your site built ask your web designer to include an XML site map so that Google can find updates to your site on a regular basis.
With SEO, content really is king, so build quality content that focuses on your keywords or phrases – this will drive traffic to your website from Google.
As a rule of thumb when writing an article for your website concentrate on no more than two key words at a time.
Don’t be afraid to add your geographical location when writing your web content, this will ensure your site is found in local searches too.
Keep animation and flash to an absolute minimum within your website, search engines have trouble reading them. Also, never use pop-up windows on your site as Google dislikes them.
Ensure your website navigation works and there are no broken links. Search engines take a dim view of links within your site that go nowhere. For example a “404 page not found” error message gives Google the impression your site cannot be trusted and your ranking will suffer.
Provide the most relevant information at the top of your web pages as search engine ‘spiders’ crawl this area first.
Make sure you have a tagline at the top of each page. In essence a tagline is a sentence that explains the page content.
Headers with tags containing your keywords should be included on every page, as should footers containing a sitemap.
In menus stick to commonly known terms such as ‘Home’, ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ etc. Refrain from using trendy alternatives.
Ensure your categories and sub-categories contain your important keywords. Where possible include these keywords within your product descriptions too.
Keep outgoing links to an absolute minimum and certainly below 10 in number. If you are going to link out then make sure it is to well known authoritative sites.
Ensure any links within your site are text based rather than image based and that they are underlined and in the same colour font.
A link is as good as a wink!
Whereas outgoing links can weaken your SEO ‘power’, in-bound links on the other hand are invaluable. Concentrate on quality rather than quantity though as it is far better having one authoritative site linking to you than several non-related ones.
Links from high page ranking websites show an element of trust and are worth their weight in gold. In addition, links to your site from educational institutions such as colleges or universities with a domain ending in .edu are seen as credible referrals and are well worth having.
The future of SEO
Customer reviews are appearing more and more regularly in search results for products and services.
Provide good customer service and ask customers for reviews that can be added to the content of your website.
Add viral components to your web site or blog – e.g. ratings, visitor comments and, as already mentioned, reviews. These will all help your website get found in the search engines.
Understand social marketing and make use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter. After a watchful start Google is starting to place more and more emphasis on this when ranking sites for searches.
Expand your range of services to include video, podcasts and news updates, making sure any video content is enclosed with ‘keyword rich’ text.
Create a video sitemap and list it in your Google account. This provides you with the best chance of your videos being found by the spiders. Videos appearing in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube so be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites too.
The bottom line in SEO is Content, Links, Popularity and Reputation.
SEO is not a one off process. The search landscape changes daily, so expect to work on your optimisation daily too.
Keep it clean - don’t be tempted by ‘black hat’ SEO tactics such as hiding black text against a black background. Google will find you out and ban you!
Be patient, Google prefers mature domains that are a minimum of one year in age.
Why? They can tell that you’re serious - you’d be amazed the number of websites that don’t make it past their first birthday!
As for buying SEO services, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. High rankings evolve over time through hard work and applied knowledge.