Top 10 SEO Tips
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial to ensure that your website is easily found, so today we've provided our Top 10 SEO Tips to help you get the best search results for your website.
When you are operating a business website, especially one with an online store, it is crucial that your site can be easily found. Just as bricks and mortar retail stores always try to get the best position with the highest pedestrian count, websites need to rank well in search engines to be successful.
This is where SEO (search engine optimisation) comes into the picture. Why is it so important? Well, SEO is one of the keys to the success of your online business.
What is SEO? Wikipedia defines it as:
“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results”
Website ranking is determined by many factors, the relevance of the keyword or search terms to what the searcher is seeking, the popularity of the search term amongst the people who actually search, as well as technical elements such use of keywords/phrases in page titles, use of all keywrods and phrases within the body text etc. By understanding search terms and developing appropriate SEO strategies, your website can gradually improve its search engine rankings.
The following Top 10 SEO tips are simple techniques that you can use to start improving the search engine ranking of your website.
Top 10 SEO Tips
1. Encourage respected, industry-related websites to link to your web pages
This is the most important factor in optimising your site. Inbound links from other websites and blogs help the search engines find you and understand what your web pages are about. A website is like a destination in a sprawling city, and links are the roads leading to it. The search engines also treat these links pointing to your web pages as 'votes', and the more 'votes' you have from good quality and relevant websites, the better.
2. Satisfy the search engines' appetite for informative text
Customers are looking for information to help them choose a product or service. The search engines help them by finding web pages that provide useful and helpful information about that product or service. Search engines can't 'read' images and animations, so they need informative text. Give the search engines plenty of reading material. This is their food.
The other benefit of providing lots of helpful information on your site is that website owners are more likely to link to your pages and the search engines will reward you for these inbound links.
3. Do some keyword research
Who is your target market? What words or phrases (keywords) would they use to search for your products and services on the Web? Do some research; you may be surprised by the results.
To be found on the Web and communicate with your customers, you need to speak their language and address their particular needs. It's much easier to optimise web pages for keywords relating to a niche market's needs (e.g., Australian women looking for shoes size 10 and over, as opposed to people across the globe looking for general footwear).
4. Make sure each web page has a unique title and unique content
Each of your web pages should have unique content and the keywords and title you choose for each page should reflect this. Think of each page as having a different emphasis. It's important to have a different title for every web page. Need help with page titles and how to edit them?
Search engines rank web pages, not websites, so each page can only be optimised for a handful of keywords and you can't optimise every page for the same set of keywords. If you try to fill a single page with all of the keywords related to your business, no single keyword will stand out to the search engines and they will not consider the page to be a good match for any specific search query.
5. Use your keywords in your web pages
Incorporate your keywords — in context and in moderation — into the text, headings, links, image titles and descriptions, description meta tags and keyword meta tags of your web pages.
6. Speak your target market's language
Help your customers find your website by clearly explaining what products and services you offer and the regions you service. Speak your customers' language and you will also help the search engines understand what you offer. Search engines are not good at 'reading between the lines' and you can help them by being specific in your choice of words.
Imagine that an Australian is searching the web for science fiction and fantasy books to buy. He types 'science fiction books' into Google. He also tries 'sci fi books' and 'new sci fi'. Google looks for Australian web pages that best match his queries.
Google will choose Example 1 (which clearly offers 'science fiction books', 'sci fi', 'new in science fiction' in 'Australia') over Example 2 (which offers 'stock', 'titles' and 'new releases'). To a search engine, 'titles' could refer to DVDs, magazines or books — it's not absolutely clear that Planet 9 sells books and more specifically, science fiction and fantasy books. Although a customer might infer that 'Planet 9' probably has something to do with sci fi, a search engine won't necessarily make the connection.
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7. Update the text content of your website
The search engines are trying to deliver the best, most up-to-date information to people searching the Web, so they favour sites that are updated often with good quality text content.
8. Study your site's statistics
Use your SiteSuite website statistics to learn which sites are driving traffic to yours and which pages within your website are the most popular.
Have you paid to have your site listed in a particular directory? Check your website statistics to confirm if that directory is driving traffic to your site.
9. Add interactive features to your website
Give your customers the opportunity to contribute comments, ask questions, submit product reviews, vote in a poll, or forward links and images to friends. These features encourage visitors to return and tell others about your site. Increasing traffic to your site can in turn attract the attention of the search engines. Interactive features such as forums and blogs have the added bonus of encouraging visitors to generate more text content for your website — the very thing search engines are looking for.
10. Look at your competitors' site content
Which web page appears first in the search result for your chosen keywords? Watch the search results over several weeks to see which pages perform well consistently. How are your competitors using those keywords on their web pages? How is their text information structured? How much information do they offer? Do you offer a product or service that your competitors don't, or do you service an area they don't cover? Make sure the distinction is clear to your customers and the search engines.
Given the importance of ensuring your website is easily found in Google and other search engines, we'll continue to provide updates to our Top 10 SEO Tips and other SEO advice, as well as occasional guest blogs by SEO professionals. But whether you follow our top 10 SEO tips or not, you simply can't ignore your website's ranking, your business might depend on it.
Edit: Update 23 May 2013 - Google releases Penguin 4 update targeting link spam
Note: Originally published in 2010, this article is still widely referenced, and has been reviewed and rebulished in 2019.
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