We present the top ways to quickly make gains in search engine optimization.
1) Title Tag
The title tag within the html head section is sometimes bypassed as a nuisance. After all, just from looking at a page, the effect of the title tag is barely noticeable. Yet in search, the title tag has monumental importance in a number of ways.
When a person makes a Google or any other search engine search, he typically gets 10 result listings, each with a title and a longer description. The title is most often taken from the title tag of the page. Webmasters have to make the title fun and enticing so that the person searching will choose to click on their page instead of the 9 other results.
Additionally, to rank higher, the title tag has to not only be fun, catchy or interesting, but it also has to contain the right keywords or a phrase that the webmaster most wants his page to rank for.
If a site is about literature, and a particular page is about fiction, the fiction page title tag can be something like these:
Fiction – Literature
Great Fiction – Literature
Great Fiction Masterpieces and Classics – Literature
The first example is probably the shortest possible, and the last example is probably the longest that is practical.
2) Description Tag
The description tag is never noticed by looking at a page. The description tag is used by search engines to display the page description under the title within search results. It is important to keep it interesting and at the same time keyword-rich since the keywords in the description tend to be highly regarded by the search engines.
Here is an example of the same page about fiction on a made-up example site about literature:
Let’s pretend that this description is an interesting one, since that is a matter of choice and I am not the Shakespeare of descriptions. Do notice what I snuck into this description from an SEO point of view. Here are the keywords which I just helped this page rank for: fiction, masterpieces, popular writers, authors, 20th century, history, literature. Almost half of the words now give some sort of SEO boost for this page.
3) Stop using the word ‘it’
Every time a website uses the word “it” when discussing something on a page, an SEO angel loses its wings. Instead of using that unhelpful word, your page might read better and more readable if you use the name of the object you are actually talking about. It is just better writing. In addition, every time you use the word “it” on a page, you miss the opportunity to add a keyword to the page which may at some point help you get more search engine traffic from people who are searching for that object.
An example of this case on a literature site would be writing “literature is very enjoyable” instead of “it is very enjoyable.”
4) Pay attention to URLs
URL structure is very important for SEO. Try to use page names and directories titled with relevant keywords. The same is true for parameter names. Here is an example of a made up URL for page that would be about fiction. This example uses SEO techniques to target the word “fiction.”
While domain names are typically set, directories, page names, and parameter names are tools for easy to understand URLs and SEO. Take a look at what I did in the URL I had just made up. While the page itself is optimized for the word fiction, I called the subdirectory “literature” and added parameters “book” and “author.” This gives an SEO boost for these words right away. In addition, when the parameters get filled in with the actual book title and the author’s name, your page will rank for those too.
In addition, this will give you many URL’s (all the author/title possibilities). You can then choose to either leave that and hope that many of the URLs will rank on their own, or redirect the “link juice” into one page, making it much stronger.
5) H1, H2, H3 tags
Using H-tags tells people and search engines that the text within those tags is the important text of the page. To people, the page will feel more organized and easier to navigate, and search engines will likely rank you a little higher for the phrases and keywords used in your H-tags. To get maximum effect from your H-tags, keep both people and search engines in mind in the order mentioned.
Using H-tags is not only helpful for SEO purposes, but it helps your site visitors navigate the page. The H1 is quite large and it should usually be a relatively short (under 5 words) title of your page. It is usually around the top of the page to get rid of any confusion on behalf of the reader in regard to what the page he is on is for.
The H2 tags are section headings. Don’t overuse the tag. A page should have 3-5 H2 tags with under 5 words. If you have more words in the tags, they just tend to look clumsy on the page, and their message begins to get distorted by using too many words.
The H3 tag is used to denote smaller subsections and to highlight important text within the page. They tend to be useful because their text is not too big, but still quite readable. Additionally, if you run out of H-tags, try to italicize an use bold text for additional important text on the page.
6) Interlinking Your Pages
One of the simplest yet effective things a webmaster can do to improve the average user’s time spent on a site while at the same time giving their pages an SEO boost is to interlink their pages. It can be done in a few ways that increase the quality of the site. The simplest way to do this is just to add a section of related pages. The person who is browsing a certain page might appreciate a link to a related page. Additionally, you get to add a link to that page (small SEO boost) and control the words you use to name that page. The ladder gives the search engines a sign for which terms they should be ranking that page. By interlinking your pages, you also give yourself a chance to control which pages get a bigger boost by having more other pages link to them, and vice versa.
Additionally, consider the style Wikipedia uses to interlink their pages. Over time, all their pages achieved top-10 rankings for nearly every imaginable search, and it was in large part do to the highly effective interlinking of the thousands of pages.
7) Controlling Link Juice Flow
The topic of controlling link juice flow has been breached throughout this article, and now I want to explore it more fully. The concept of “link juice” is a term used to discuss the strength of a link. If a link is from a strong page, it can pass a lot of link juice. If a link is from a page that has 50 other outbound links, then your site only gets 1/50th of the total link juice, which is better than nothing, and in cases of strong sites, can still be quite significant.
Getting inbound link juice to a site from other sites is one of the greatest off-page SEO quests. The more high-quality inbound links there are – the better. No matter how much or how little link juice you may have, savvy inter-site link juice flow control can make a great difference.
Let’s say your site has 10,000 pages. That might seem like many, but what happens on most sites is that only a few of those pages bring in most of the revenue. These few golden pages either have a high conversion rate of whatever the site is selling, or ranks in the top-10 for a high-volume search term and brings in a lot of traffic through search. What the webmaster may want to do is to have the pages that don’t matter, pump link juice back into the pages that do matter. That way, the few high-earning pages will be ranked even higher by search engines.
8) Have Pages that Update Often
In order for new pages to start accumulating the coveted link juice, the webmaster has to make sure that the search engines can find that page sooner than later. Since you probably aren’t going to submit every new page into each search engine’s ‘submit-URL’ form, you will probably have to rely on the engines to crawl your site and find the link to the new page, and then index that page.
Not all pages get crawled equally. Pages that update often tend to be crawled more frequently and pages that rarely update, tend to be crawled for updates less frequently. That is why every site has to have at least one or few frequently updating pages. These pages allow new pages to be linked to from the frequently updating and crawled page, and get indexed faster, which would result in the pages accumulating link juice earlier and be ranked in searches earlier as well.
9) Choose Keywords Carefully
Keyword selection is crucial for both, the site visitors and the search engines. The interests of both, people and search engines, converge surprisingly often in many cases. Unfortunately, in other cases, what is good for the reader many not be that good helpful for your site’s search engine rankings.
Knowing which keywords to try to rank for is probably the single most important SEO trick. If you want a new site to rank in the top-10 for some word like “soccer,” it might be impossible. Even if you spend years and thousands of dollars, it may simply be impossible to rank higher than the top-10 sites for that term.
If you want to know which keywords to aim for, use the Google Keyword Tool to get a sense where your site can compete. Yet always keep in mind that webmasters who maintain the best balance between catering to people and search engines tend to have sites that are popular among both.
10) Coordinate Web Development, Copy Writing, Business Direction and SEO
How many hands touch your website before it is a final product? Let’s count. Web developers, UX designers, software engineers, copy editors, search engine optimizers, and your users (if your site is interactive) all have an effect on how your site looks and feels. There are probably more people affecting the site than listed, but it is sufficient to illustrate the point that coordination is vital.
In typical work environments, designers have little to do with SEO. In turn, SEO optimizers tend to work closely with the people responsible for copy editing, and software engineers tend to have nothing to do with any of the above roles, and UX designers are hit or miss in all the peripheral roles. While in small companies, it may be feasible that one or two people can take on all of the above roles, in bigger companies such a thing is nearly impossible. Larger organizations just have to make sure that there is a close level of collaboration between the designers, SEOs and other marketers, and copy editors. If they don’t, over time, the website will accumulate blind spots or just become a complete mess of moving parts that don’t play well together.