12 SEO Tips to Get Discovered by Google
In the last several years, Google really has <i>become</i> search. It has over an 85% market share in the UK alone and getting to the first page or two of chosen search results can really help a business achieve bigger sales and more targeted marketing not to mention increased visiting statistics.
It can however be daunting, not to mention expensive, for website owners to achieve effective SEO and obtain those much sought after page 1 and 2 results.
In this article you’ll find some great little tips on how to help your website rank more effectively for your chosen keywords.
1. Research Keywords
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole SEO process, it really can make or break an SEO campaign. Get it right and you may not have to revisit this stage for quite some time, but get it wrong and a lot of work you do after this stage will probably be wasted.
There are several ways of researching keywords, some involve expensive pieces of software, others involve sitting down with or emailing a customer to ask their opinion.
I’d recommend a piece of software called ‘Market Samurai‘ which is a great application which can tell you how often words are searched for through Google and also how competitive a search term is (i.e. how many other sites also appear to be going after that search term as well). It does cost $149.900 so it may not be an option for those looking to do SEO themselves on a budget but for those that are undertaking a large SEO project it’s a great tool.
Aside from Market Samurai, you can use Google AdWords to estimate the number of searches a term receives. This does require that you have a Google AdWords account however, it takes a coupe of minutes to setup but it’s a free service to use in this sense although it won’t give any feedback about competition etc.
Determining how competitive a keyword is can be based on two things, how often is this term searched for?, and how many other websites use these keywords?. If people are searching for a term a lot, and there aren’t many websites showing up when you search for that term then more often than not that search term could be deemed attractive.
Once you have your search statistics from Market Samurai, Google AdWords or whatever piece of software you use, head on over to Google and search for ‘allintitle: your keyword’, this will search for websites using your search term in their page title, something we will take about next, this will give you an idea of the amount of sites optimising for that search term. Using allintitle helps you distinguish sites using the term in their title as opposed to bringing back results with your term in the body text for example, which may have nothing to do with that site looking to optimise for SEO at all.
2. Use Correct Page Titles
The titles of your pages hold a lot of weight in SEO so it’s important they’re optimized effectively. A lot of websites simply use their company name in the page titles, but all this does is help them rank for their company name. For example, I’m a company named Lots of Light that sells table lamps online, now if I were to use ‘Welcome to the Lots of Lights website‘ as my title that wouldn’t really help me rank for anything other than Lots of Lights, but if I were to use ‘Table Lamps – Lots of Lights – Buy Table Lamps‘ then id be optimizing my site for the term table lamps which is far more likely to searched for by someone looking to buy a table lamp.
I find it beneficial only optimizing for one search term on each individual page, if you sell table lamps and standing lamps, try and create an additional page on your website for standing lamps and optimize for that term itself. As well as the SEO benefits, it will also help your user distinguish between sections on your website and also the products you offer.
3. Use Keyword Rich Copy
Once you’ve decided on a search term to optimize for, try using that term in the body text of your page a couple of times, especially towards the beginning of your text. The way search engines scan your site is usually from top to bottom, so if it finds search terms towards the top of your text it deems this text more important in terms of SEO.
Using keyword rich copy was taken advantage of not so long ago by SEO’s looking to rise in the rankings. They would use various methods of ‘keyword stuffing’ which can involve using hidden text on your web page which the user cannot see but is visible to the bot crawling your page.
Google has since cracked down on people using these methods as they went some way to spoiling Google’s vision of totally natural search results. This could act as a warning, try and be creative with how often you use your keywords but use them too much and Google may punish you and your website!
4. Effective Meta Keywords & Website Description
Meta data used to be important in SEO terms and helped a website rank for the terms used. However, in the last few years they have been deemed largely irrelevant for ranking purposes and a lot of people will argue its largely a waste of time bothering with them at all.
I still find it useful to take time writing a useful and engaging meta description however, a meta description is the piece of text that appears underneath your title in search results, it doesn’t hold any SEO weighting at all but what it does do is give the user an opportunity to see if your site is relevant for their search term.
For example, if a user searches for Table Lamps it may bring up mostly websites that sell table lamps, however that user may be looking for companies that build customized table lamps (of course, they should have searched for customized table lamps but let’s use this as an example), the meta description gives you an opportunity to give a small snippet of information abut that page and help the user make an informed decision before they click on a website.
5. Understand the Importance of H1, H2 and H3 Headers
This is perhaps the most widely ignored aspect of SEO, you can look through the websites of blue chip companies, massive online stores and pretty much any other area of Internet websites and you’ll find them not using headers effectively.
Let’s apply headers to a non-SEO situation such as a newspaper article. When you write an article, you have the headline followed by some text and perhaps some pictures accompanying the story. The headline itself must contain related keywords to the story to help anyone reading that page decide if that article is something that they’d like to read, therefore you could say that the headline holds more weight with the user as it’s likely that the headline will contain relevant words. The same applies with a search engine scanning your site, it deems titles more important than simple text as this is usually how a user will read your site.
Fitting in headers can be a tricky design challenge, as when you first insert them into your HTML they will look large and unsightly, but they can be styled through the use of CSS and blended perfectly into the design of your site meaning a better experience for your user, a better looking site and also, more effective SEO.
Headers are ranked in importance by the number they hold, number 1 being the most important down to number 6 being the least. Once again, be creative when designing or altering your SEO’d web pages and try and insert the most important headers at the top of the page using your keywords.
6. Use Descriptive Image Filenames
This is a very easy aspect of SEO if you take it on early in the design and building phase of your site, a lot of websites just use ‘image1.jpg’ and ‘logo.jpg’ etc for their image titles and this really does miss out on the opportunity for better SEO.
If you have your logo in the top left hand corner of your website for example and the image is named ‘logo.jpg’ why not change it to something more keyword specific, again if we use the Lots of Lights company as an example, something like ‘tableLamps-Logo.jpg’ may be more relevant.
The picture above is taken from an image used right here on Webitect. The image used for a WordPress-related article has approached the naming of its images correctly, using ‘wordpress.jpg’ instead of a generic ‘imageXYZ.jpg’ benefits the article and site as a whole by using more keyword-relevant criteria.
While this image on itself may not hold much, if any keyword weight, imagine a site with more than a thousand images on its pages and if each of these images are named appropriately, this will hold quite a chunk of SEO weight for your website.
This can be applied to the rest of your images on your site, be creative and use image keywords effectively.
7. Use Internal Links
Basically, the more links towards your homepage (this can be applied to any page on your site but it’s generally your homepage) the better. For example, you may have the logo on your website linking back to your homepage, if you have 10 pages on your site then that’s an additional 10 links back to your homepage. You can try adding more links to your homepage that will feature on each page, for example why not alter the copyright notice in your footer on your site to link back to the homepage, or why not insert a ‘table lamps’ link to your footer and have that linking back to your homepage as well.
It really is a case of being as creative as possible and thinking of SEO when creating anything on your site.
8. Find Incoming Links
Now this is a huge aspect of SEO which deserves it’s own article in all honesty. I will however, touch on it slightly as it is so important.
Links to your website has quickly became the most important aspect of search engine optimization and without them, it’s hard to rank for pretty much anything.
Links to your website acts as votes, and the more links to the sites linking to yours, the more that vote is worth. For example, a link from a friends website with little to no popularity wont be worth a whole lot to your website, but a link from a popular website with plenty of incoming links itself can be very beneficial to your website.
The basis of any link building campaign can be directory submissions, while a lot of people have bad things to say about submitting your website to these Internet directories, they do provide a relatively quick and easy way to begin building some form of links to your site.
The easiest way to gain links to your website is by writing interesting and original content via some form of blog or news page which we will speak about next.
9. Blog Regularly and Constantly Update
Running a blog written around your subject area can benefit your website in visitor numbers, general SEO and also gaining links. Writing creative, original and above all link-worthy content is the most profitable way of gaining valuable links to your website, helping your website rise in the rankings at the same time.
A great way to attract links to your website is by writing link-bait. Link-bait is content written specifically for the purpose of attracting links and creating interest around your article. Link bait can be written in a number of ways, it can be an article about a new development in your field, a controversial point of view or a thorough tutorial for example.
Having a regularly written blog also helps in regular SEO terms as each time you write a new article chances are that it will appear on a new page on your website meaning more links back to your homepage (like we spoke about earlier) and also that Google will crawl your site and see that you have new pages which it very much likes in SEO terms.
10. Google Analytics
Although having analytics installed on your website wont actually help you go higher in rankings or attract visitors etc, it will help you see statistics on the number of visitors to your website, how the got there, what pages they looked at, how long were they on that page etc.
It can help massively when writing new content as you can look back and see what content on your site has gained the most interest in the past, giving you a valuable insight into what people are interested in reading and searching for.
Although there are many analytics packages out there, I’d recommend Google’s own analytics, which is completely free.
11. Use Keywords in Your URL’S
Although this isn’t really an option for existing or already established websites as they wont / cant change their domain name / URL, it’s something that new websites should think long and hard about doing as it really does hold a lot of SEO weight.
It’s easy for new websites to register a URL that’s simply their company name, but that doesn’t help there SEO one bit. It’s worth taking some time to decide upon keywords to use in your URL as obviously this an element you can’t freely change as easily as your HTML titles or copy for example.
It’s also worth thinking about choosing keywords that you’ll use multiple times, for example rather than using your main keyword by default, why not use a word that appears in several of your lesser important keyword terms, that way your site is benefiting from this one aspect of SEO several times. Notice how the screenshot below displays relevant keywords in the URL for this lamps and lightning site.
As well as the obvious benefits to your websites SEO, a clean and informative URL also helps the user distinguish what your site is about and helps the user determine if your sites content is relevant to there search.
12. Use Keywords in Website Directory and Page URL Names
Much like the URL example above, it’s important you use relevant keywords in your holding folders/directories and also the names of your actual HTML/PHP files as Google deems this relevant for your website’s SEO.
Unlike the domain URL, you are in complete control of your document and holding folder names so it really is one of the easiest ways of improving your sites SEO. Even if your pages content is based around one paticular topic, that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your document names, meaning you can use a mixture of your keywords in both the document name and content, really maximising keyword potential.
While the tips above barely scrape the surface of a thorough search engine optimisation campaign, there are certainly enough for a novice to begin looking at their site through SEO-tinted glasses. It really is a case of ‘throw enough mud and some will eventually stick’, do as much SEO you can, no matter how small an effect you may think it will have on your site, every little helps.