While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns can consume considerable resources, there are several simple steps that everyone can take to improve their Website’s organic ranking.
Things You'll Need:
- Way to edit the Website
- Step 1
(1) FIRST STEP: CHANGE YOUR THINKING
Many people regard Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) as something you do to a Website after it has been created. However, many of the recommendations that follow could easily be described as best practices for Website content, links and pages. In fact, many of the factors that Google and other search engines use to determine page rank came from fields very different from search engine technology. For example, screen readers for the blind look for picture descriptions designated by an ALT tag. So by adding ALT descriptions to all of you Website images, you are improving the handicapped accessibility of your Website, in addition to improving your search engine ranking.
So, the first step in simplifying SEO is to change your thinking from optimizing an existing Website, to creating an optimized Website from the ground up by following simple best practice rules for Website content, links and pages. And then, continue following these rules as content is updated and as your Website evolves over time.
- Step 2
SUPPLY PICTURE NAMES AND PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS
By using appropriate and descriptive file names for your Website images along with using good Alt text, you can provide search engines with more information about the content of pages on your Website and improve your organic ranking. For example naming a picture “coke-bottle-ring-CBR12.jpg” is better than just “CBR12.jpg” for the picture name. Also, whenever possible include descriptive ALT text of the images used on a Website (e.g. “Amy Artist in her Workshop” versus just “Amy”).
This Google Webmaster Help article describes Google’s guidelines for using and publishing images, including the role of picture names and Alt text (NOTE: A live link to this article is included in the Resources Section): http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=114016
- Step 3
CREATE PAGE TITLES AND PAGE DESCRIPTIONS
By making use of TITLE and DESCRIPTION Meta tags, Webmasters can influence the content of the title and summary (a.k.a. Snippet) that is used for their Website page in Google Search Results. These tags also give Webmasters another opportunity to include keywords that reinforce the theme content of a Web page.
This Google Webmaster Help article describes how to change a Website page Title and
Description and consequently the search results snippet: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35624
- Step 4
REMEMBER: “TEXT IS BEST FOR CONTENT AND LINKS”
Rich media content (such as Flash, Silverlight and videos) is becoming more popular on Websites everywhere. However, search engines can have difficulty finding and interpreting text and links embedded in rich media, meaning that your Website may not get credit for this content and your organic ranking will suffer. Most search engine robots are much more effective at crawling and indexing Website text than rich media content and they can have difficulty navigating dynamically generated web pages or deciphering page links contained in rich media content.
This Google Webmaster Help article provides suggestions for reducing the impact of using Flash and other rich media files on your Website: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=72746
- Step 5
USE KEYWORDS IN YOUR DOMAIN NAME AND PAGE LINKS
Search Engines prefer a Website URL structure that is as simple as possible, and one that is intelligible to human beings (i.e. with readable words). So when choosing a domain name attempt to incorporate words that describe the purpose of your business. For example, a business that does printing would benefit from a domain name that incorporates the word “print”. Also, a Web page URL that ends with about-us, products, company, services, or product-support will be more favorably regarded than a Web page URL that ends with page1, id2, node3 or x4yz. Furthermore, consider using punctuation to separate words in your URLs, some search engines prefer hyphens “-” to underscores “_” (for example use: “red-coat” instead of “redcoat” or “red_coat”).
In addition to the benefit in search engine ranking, by using keywords in your URL structure, you will make it possible for users to type in your domain name or Web page URL from memory and more easily create links to your Website content.
This Google Webmaster Help article has several tips on improving a Website’s URL structure: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=76329
- Step 6
THE NOT SO QUICK OR EASY SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Search engine rankings can be influenced by more than a hundred individual factors, and the factors used along with their relative weighting can change (and often do change) from one day to the next but, it is widely recognized that two factors always figure prominently in determining page rank:
1. High Quality/Unique/Fresh Content
2. Inbound Links from “reputable” Websites
Please note that the quality of inbound links (determined by a Website’s reputation) is far more important than the quantity of inbound links. When Website A has a link to content on Website B, Website A is in effect using (or risking) its reputation to endorse Website B. Conversely, note that by having a link in your Website to a page on another Website you are using your Website’s “reputation” to endorse the content on the page where your link is directed. Although the definition of a “reputable” Website will vary by source, popular media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post are generally regarded to be highly reputable Websites.
While creating high quality unique content that is updated frequently will require a considerable commitment of resources, you will reap benefits that include more frequent visits from users and a higher probability that others will want to place links on their Website to your content, in addition to improving search engine rankings. The other long-term high resource commitment to search engine ranking is to establish relationships (and page links) with other like minded Webmasters and their relevantly themed Websites. Obviously linking to direct competitors is not something that anyone would recommend, yet links to or from Websites not relevant to your users will most likely not be used and would provide only questionable benefit to your search engine rankings. Needless to say, a link building campaign will not be quick or easy.
- Step 7
If you feel like you are ready a more advanced exploration of Search Engine Optimization, a good resource to start with is “Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” document which can be downloaded from the Google Webmaster Help article on Search Engine Optimization:
The Google Webmaster Help articles titled “Webmaster guidelines” and “Google-friendly sites” are also excellent references: