Simple steps you can take to improve search engine optimization of your website

There are a couple of basic procedures your web design/developer should take, such as validating the code and creating a site map for larger websites to ensure your web site is as search engine friendly as possible. However, There are some simple steps that you can take yourself which should soon result in an increase in your page ranking on the search engine results page (SERP). The goal is for your website to appear high on the SERP. If it appears on pages 1, 2 or 3 you know you've done a good job.

1. Write information-rich content

Quality content is the most important ingredient for search engine optimization. If you've done your research, and know your target market, you will be on the right track for writing quality content that not only informs and entices your audience, but also provides important key phrases that aid search engine optimization.

2. Include the key phrase or key words in your page title

The first tag search engines read is the page title. Including the key phrase for a web page in the title tag is becoming more and more effective for search engine optimization. The page title is also the first thing seen when your website is listed on a SERP (search engine results page) so it's crucial to choose a key phrase that will grab the attention of potential visitors.

However, you should also include your company name in the page title, or your own name if your business is of a personal nature. Eliminating it may hinder SEO particularly if your domain name is different to the name people recognize you or your company by. Add it after the key phrase.

3. Use text based headlines that include your page key phrase(s)

Search engines recognize headlines (the H1 tag) and consider them to be a key phrase. Using headlines in your content that include your key phrase(s) not only enables visitors to quickly determine the content of the page, they also aid search engine optimization.

4. Repetition of your key phrase or key words

It has generally been recommended that your key phrases and keywords are repeated throughout your web page content to improve your SERP ranking. Vary the wording of your key phrase, e.g. use it as a question in your headline and follow up by using it in the answer and subsequent qualifying statements, bullet points and conclusion. However, don't over do it as search engines now recognize "keyword stuffing" and will penalize your website, and thereby reduce your page ranking. Also, be sure to check your content makes sense and that it flows.

5. Avoid using animations and large graphics for important information

Flash-based content has always been a no-no where key information is concerned as it cannot be read by search engines. Animations, like Flash, can add interesting dynamics to your website while large images add visual quality that can entice visitors to purchase from you. However, they can take a long time to load, and like Flash, they provide no searchable text. Use animations and large images sparingly and ensure to include text based key phrases on your web page.

6. Use text based links where possible

Button links look great, but text based links work better for SEO. In most cases, it's possible to use a combination of both, but if you decide to use image-based buttons (where the text is part of the image) in your main menu bar, make sure you include text based links elsewhere on the page, for example, in the footer. Check also that your designer has added titles to the link code and alternative text to the image code wherever button images are used, as this will also help aid SEO. Update: While shiney buttons have been all the rage for awhile, with the advent of new technologies and CSS3, button effects can now be created using CSS styles, so there is virtually no need for button graphics.

7. Write concise meta descriptions that include key words

Search engine robots read the description meta tag looking for key phrases and key words that potential searchers may use to find the products or services you offer. The meta description is almost as important as the page title and page content for search engine optimization. Also, since it is the text that is presented on the SERP after the title, it should be carefully crafted so that it entices potential visitors to your site.

8. Only include keywords that are relevant

Keywords used to be considered the most important element to SEO. However, due to the abuse of keyword tags, whereby webmasters, website owners or SEO marketers added endless lists of keywords that bore no relevance to the content, they are no longer considered important. If you think someone may search your business using certain keywords then those keywords should be included in your content.

Don't just add keywords to your meta tags for the sake of it. It is more important to include quality keywords than to include an endless list of words that do not relate to your content. Google and other search engine robots consider this to be abuse and may black mark your website.

Google now also recognizes on page "keyword stuffing," and will penalize a web page for excessive keyword repetition and reduce its page rank. So while your content should contain the main keywords and key phrases for the page, it is not a good idea to over do it. Only repeat keywords if it makes sense to do so.

9. Make them different

Use different key phrases and keywords on each page of your website. You may want to include one or two key words on every page, such as your business name, your main product or service category, and your business location or the locations you cover, as these may be used to refine a search. But, there is no point in including the same key phrase(s) or keywords on every page of your website, particularly if they don't relate to each page. If visitors see multiple results for your website, they won't know which one contains the information they are looking for and may leave before they find it. Make the key phrases and keywords different on every page and ensure they relate to the content on the page they appear.

10. Index your website

There are millions of websites on the internet all competing with each other for that target top spot, so don't just assume major search engines, such as Google and Bing, will automatically find your site. Once it's published, let them know by indexing your website. There are also tons of business directories that offer a free listing with a link back to your website. This too will help generate traffic to your website, especially if you use an appropriate key phrase and description, and more traffic will also improve your SERP ranking.

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TIDBITS

Tip 1: Selling products online? Advertise on eBay
Increase traffic to your website by advertising your most popular product on eBay and including a link back to your website. Increased traffic will help move your website closer to the top of a SERP.

Tip 2: Update your content on a regular basis
This will not only entice repeat visitors to your website, but it indicates to search engine robots that your website is not dormant so that they continue to re-index your website.

Tip 3: Add a resource section
Give your customers value added service by adding a resource section with lots of useful tips and information. It will not only indicate to visitors that you are professional and know your stuff resulting in repeat visits to your website, it will also improve SEO through the repeated use of relevant keywords and keyphrases.

Tip 4: Add a blog to your website
This is a great way to easily add new, up-to-the-minute content to your website. Make sure you provide advice and information that your clients will find interesting or useful, and be sure to use search engine friendly URLs and to include keywords tags.

Tip 5: Join online social networks
Used responsibly, online social networks are a great way to advertise your business. Adding your business logo and website URL as well as posting useful tips and resources will increase awareness about your company and inevitably increase traffic to your website.