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SEO Hints & Tips

To kick-off off my first blog entry I thought I would focus on one the most frequently asked questions I get as a web designer – “How do i get my website number 1 in Google?” The reality is that there is no silver bullet to achieving a high position in Google and the other major search engines, and if a SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) company or specialist guarantees you this in a short space of time be wary, getting there is possible but staying there is another matter and expedient methods can actually end up damaging your ranking.

There are though a number of things a website owner can do themselves to greatly improve their chances of getting a higher ranking. There are a number of articles on the web that go into this in great depth but i thought i would focus on the 10 things that i feel would have the most impact on your ranking that are relatively easy to implement. numbers 1-5 are below, I’ll post part 2 next month to give you a chance to digest these first.

1. Choosing The Right Keywords

Whenever we type a request into a search engine, the engine must decide which pages to display to us in order of relevance. To gauge relevance, the requested search words will be checked against your web-page to ensure the user is getting the most pertinent information. Therefore, the words you choose to optimize your page for are vital if you are to cut through the plethora of pages out there. With this in mind it is pointless choosing generic keywords.

If you’re page is promoting your landscape gardening business for example, it would be pointless optimizing your page for just these two words (Google pulls up over a million results!). You need to target more niche searches. This could be by area so you could optimize for – ‘Landscape Gardening Woking’ or other variants that you think people will search for.

To help you decide on the best Keywords to use there are a number of applications out there to help – a couple of popular options are: www.wordtracker.com and www.keyworddiscovery.com. Both these offer free trials and they are great way of checking how many times users have searched for your keywords against the number of pages listed. You naturally want to have more of the former and less of the latter.

The best way to use these tools is type your generic keyword/s e.g. ‘landscape gardening’ and it will return other suggestions of Keywords that have been requested with the volume of pages listed. This can be a great way of helping you decide the best Keywords to pick and can also offer ideas for other pages to include on your site.

2. How To Include Your Keywords

Once you have decided on your keywords there are a number of ways you can optimize your page to include them:

  • Domain name – try to pick a domain name that includes your keywords as much as possible i.e www.landscapegardening.com who be a great help if that’s your area of business. This is where if you have done your keywords research you can select something less generic but still relevant.
  • URL/ file name – It also helps to include your keywords in your file names i.e www.landscapegardening.com/patiodesigns.
  • Page Title – every page must have a title which is displayed at the top of the browser window and you must include your keywords in this.
  • Headers – Each page of your website should have a clear structure so that it’s content & purpose is clear. In order to achieve this you must use clear headers for each section ( i will go into this in more detail below). Ensure your keywords are included in these.
  • Content – The main body of your text should contain your keywords a few times within the natural flow of the copy, but don’t overdo it. Just randomly repeating your keywords for no good reason could have an adverse effect as the search engines will think your trying to manipulate them.
  • Meta Tags – Meta tags are found in the head of your html page and hold information about the page. They can hold keywords, a description of your site (this appears as your site description on Google) and other things like author. While Keyword meta tags have a lesser bearing on your rank these days some search engines still take notice and it’s often worth putting in obvious mis-spellings that someone might type in.

3. Clean up your Code

The cleaner and more semantic your code, the easier it is for search engines to read your rank your page. Most websites now are built using a semantic mark-up lanugage – Xhtml, to hold the content of the page and CSS to style it. building a site in this way allows you to seperate content from the way it is presented making it much easier to read. Although this is common practice for contemporary sites older sites still hold all layout & presentation information in the main body of the code. By cleaning up your code you stand a much better chance of having your content read.

4. Page Structure & Content

As mentioned above it’s important to keep your page structure clear & obvious, this includes relevant headings for each section. html headers are split into 6 levels, h1 being the most important on the page and h6 being the least. Make sure your Keywords are included in any top level headings. Search Engines also love pages that have constantly updated content.

This shouldn’t be radically different but something like a blog like this can let the search engine know that your site is current. It’s also very important to make sure your content is unique, don’t just copy and paste from another site.

5. Link building

If you can manage to get links to other reputable sites then this will certainly improve your ranking, although this is not easy as larger and higher ranked sites will be very picky on who they link to. The best way to get links to a high-ranking site is to create great content that could be useful to their readers.

To use the landscape gardening analogy again, if you were to include a resource on your website that reviewed the 20 best garden centers in the country then this would be seen as valuable information and you could expect to get larger sites linking to the article, and thus your website. Try not to link to any random sites with no relevance to your own or sites with very little traffic as this can actually pull your ranking down.

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