SEO Tips: How to Rank Well in Search Engines Part 2
1. Creating Content for your Website
You may have heard it many times before, but it’s true. Content is king! If you want search engines to rank your website high for certain keywords, you need to have valuable content about those keywords in your website. Your content needs to be unique! Copying and pasting other people’s articles onto your website will not help your search engine rankings, since search engines don’t value duplicate content. (Also, using other people’s copyrighted content without their permission can get you kicked out of search engines.) So how do you create unique, relevant content?
Write for Your Customers
Think about your customers, and write about things they would be interested in. Are you a hair salon? Create a blog with articles about the latest hair styles, new products and proper hair care. Do you sell furniture? Write articles with home decorating advice. Not only will people searching for your specific products and services find your website, but you’ll also gain website traffic from visitors who are searching for advice on specific topics. And here’s a bonus—people will voluntarily link to your relevant content and may even share it with others using social media. Writing quality content is the best way to build links to your website.
Both search engines and your customers love fresh content, so keep your website up to date. The more unique, quality content, the better! In fact, Google now lets users filter their search results by date, so your website can jump ahead of older articles from highly ranked websites just because it is new and fresh.
Use Keywords, But Keep it Relevant
Remember, each article and each page of your website should be targeting different keywords/key phrases based on what the content is all about. If you have an article about the top 10 ways to redecorate a living room, then optimize for keywords like “decorating a living room” and not something like “candles for sale.” Within your content, be sure to use the keywords in your headings and subheads (this only works well when your page is coded correctly, so make sure your web developer uses heading tags in the code such as <h1>,<h2>, etc.). Use bold and italic formatting to emphasize your keywords.
You can use your articles as a way to entice visitors to look at other pages on your website. For instance, your article about redecorating may mention candles, and the word “candles” can link to your page all about the candles you sell. Or link to other decorating articles you’ve written. Keep visitors interacting with your website by including links to other relevant pages in your site. Make sure the text of the internal links (anchor text) includes keywords from the page to which you are linking so that you will be helping to optimize that page for those keywords.
2. Making Sure Your Website is Properly Coded
There are many different ways to code a website, but not all of them are the right way. The average person looking at websites might never know the difference, but behind-the-scenes code can determine whether the site ranks high in search results or not.
Commonly used programs like FrontPage or Dreamweaver tend to generate inefficient, excess code that can make it harder for search engines to decipher between content and code. The best web developers use CSS (cascading stylesheets) to separate the code used to style their page from the content of the page, resulting in nice clean code that search engines can read. More about CSS
The same goes with images. If you have text displayed in an image, search engines will not be able to read your image. What you can do, however, is add a meaningful description of that image in the alt tag of the image (this is done in the coding). If an image doesn’t load, this text will appear in place of the image.
Also, using images to link to a page is not valued as highly as text links. Therefore, image navigation can be bad for search engine optimization if coded improperly. However, there are proper ways to code image navigation so that it can still been seen as text links to search engines and can be read by screen readers. Choose a web developer who knows how to code using web and accessibility standards.
Search engine robots also can’t gather content from videos. When displaying a video on your website, it is best to follow it with a description of the content of the video in text form.
To help search engines find all the pages on your website, create a sitemap that includes links to all of your pages. There are different ways to do this, and you can submit the sitemap directly to Google using Google’s webmaster tools and also include a link to the sitemap in your robots.txt file. What’s a robots.txt file? This is a plain text file that you can use to tell search engines which content they should avoid indexing on your site, and well as where your sitemap is located. For example, you may want to keep certain personal folders on your web server from being indexed. Robots.txt is also a great way to stop search engines from indexing duplicate content. For example, if someone can access your blog article in two ways with different links (how-to-decorate.htm and archives/2009/how-to-decorate.htm), then you can tell search engines not to index the archives folder. This is a common issue with blogs.
3. Using Relevant Domain Names and URLs
Using your keywords in your domain name and in filenames are very important. As I mentioned in Part 1, if you have a page about widgets, name the page “widgets.htm.” Using hyphens between words in URLs is also helpful (i.e. blue-widget-parts.htm). Don’t use too many words though—you don’t want to look like spam.
Once you have a domain, stick with it. The age of the domain is taken into account. The longer you’ve owned the domain, the better.
One thing to note is that having multiple domain names pointing to the same site is not usually helpful. Ideally, you want to optimize your site for one domain. When using multiple domains, be sure you are using a 301 redirect to forward other domains to your primary one. Splitting your link building efforts across multiple domains is a waste of time and effort, not to mention the possible duplicate content issues.
This also applies when you have multiple links to your homepage in the same domain. For instance, “domain.com,” “www.domain.com” and “domain.com/index.php” are 3 links to the same page. Avoid using “index.php” or “index.htm” to link to your homepage, and instead use “domain.com” or just “/”.
There are so many things to take into account when optimizing a site for search engines, it can make you dizzy. Just know that creating a website and putting it on the web is not enough. If you really want to get traffic to your website, it needs to be coded properly from the start, contain lots of good content with relevant keywords, and gain valuable inbound links from good sources. Following the SEO tips and techniques in this article and SEO Tips Part 1, you will surely move up in search engine results. Good luck!
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