There are a few simple things any website owner can do to maximise their search engine muscle power. In other words, activities that will help you get found by search engines of the likes of Google, Yahoo! and Bing. These things are core, so don’t neglect them.
Headings and Sub-Headings
First, headings or titles. Make sure your titles are less than 70 characters. (That’s half a standard tweet.)
Your main headings (e.g. this one is ‘Tips to Improve your Website SEO’ will be in what is called a H1 tag. The H stands for ‘Heading.’ The term ‘tag’ refer to the very simple XHTML code used to denote that it is the main heading and will look like <h1>. The heading when rendered in XHTML will finish with the close tag after the last word – in the case SEO </h1>.
Use relevant and descriptive keywords for your headings, as search engines will robotically scan your h1 tags to determine what your page is about.
Where you have sub-headings, use should use H2 tags. These denote that this is an important subject within the topic but it is not the main heading. This will help the reader, but also help the search engine to understand what the page is about.
If you have sub-headings within these sub-topic, you can use H3 tags. You get the drift? This is the heading hierarchy.
Page load speed is really important and Google for one keeps changing its search algorithms. Speed and size of files is one thing to which it seems to be paying close attention.
Make sure you use your image editing software to Save for Web so that compression is used as much as possible without resulting in artefacting (the coloured distortion of pixels that can result). A useful WordPress plugin is called gzip which will do this for you. Or set up a Batch Action in PhotoShop and use gzip as well.
Make sure you use a strong and relevant Title for your image, even if it is a hassle. When youhave several galleries, it can be painstaking, but you want to get it right.
Absolutely ensure you also have ALT text to describe succinctly what the image is about. Search engines, as well as some visitors and browsers, are blind. Help them out.
Search engines look for Authority and Relevance. To briefly revise some of our other articles about SEO (links below), these things are very important:
- quality content
- frequent updates (new articles, updates, images and pages)
- inbound links to your site from quality websites (these are like votes of confidence)
- social networks
For local businesses, you can start getting some inbound links by registering with Google Places and setting up a Facebook page where people can check in and leave comments.
Also check out any Review sites in your area or industry category.
In a nutshell, if you are trying to compete with other websites for a competitive keyword, you need to have more content and more links than they do.
Homepage Word Count
One thing to be aware of is that search engines don’t rank websites, they rank pages.
Many clients request a minimal website where there is not too much text interfering with the clean look.
Recently we had a new site where the content pages were indexed by Google, but not the homepage. The reason the homepage was not being indexed was because it had insufficient words for search ‘bots’ to bother looking at.
We had kept the design very aesthetically pleasing to fit the luxury brand of the property and so the copy would be ‘above the fold’ and the reader would not need to scroll. Aesthetically this is nice, but people are used to scrolling so it really shouldn’t matter. What matters is that you have at least 200 words on your homepage.
We also need to make sure we have a decription for every page on our website, not just the website in general. To do this, use a plugin such as All In One SEO which will help you add Titles and descriptions to each page.
If you are using a framework such as Elegant Themes or Genesis, it will come with its own SEO panel in the ePanel. You can use both in combination as there is no conflict. Use ePanel for your homepage SEO but also use the plugin for your other pages. Should work a treat.
Having said that, NEVER engage in things such as keyword stuffing where content simply exists to get search engines interested. Not cool, brother.
Keyword tags are also no longer used by Google so don’t worry about adding them.
When you have done as much SEO as you think necessary, you can check to see if you have been indexed by Google by tying in site:example.com.au into the search bar.
What will appear is the Google view of the pages it has found and indexed. Ideally you want all of them. If you are not indexed, this could be due to a number of factors including the absense of a sitemap.
If you’re using WordPress, the good news is that generating a good sitemap is easy. You can use the plugin Google XML Sitemaps to create it for you. Then manually submit the sitemap URL (usually www.yoursite.com.au/sitemap.xml) to Webmaster Tools.
Good luck and share any other tips you may have for basis level on-page SEO.
Thanks for reading!