Search Engine Optimisation

Have you been approached by SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) companies offering to work some sort of miracle that will get your site on the first page of Google for all sorts of keywords? Well, maybe they can – but it will cost you. And again,. maybe they can;t. There is more b/s spoken about SEO than almost anything else on the web.

When we build a website we optimise it as we build it – which is the easy way to do it. SEO is not something you can just  ’bolt on’ afterwards. Here’s a few hints and tips for you:

Page title tag

 - ideally a maximum of 63 characters (including spaces) with all major keywords /phrases included if possible. Don’t repeat any single word more than twice.

META content tag

 - one or two sentences containing the main key phrases. (Don’t worry about any other META tags, they are not important)

Keyword rich text

 - make sure your major keywords/phrases come up regularly in the text on your home page but don’t overstuff the text with keywords. Apart from anything else it needs to read OK for humans too.

Use H1 and H2 header tags

 with key words for section headings but don’t over-use

Use appropriate ALT tags

 for images (but don’t stuff with keywords)

Check your menu system

-  make sure that whichever navigation system you use can be easily followed by search engine spiders. If you are using a Javascript based system you must have text links as well, or at least a site map with a link to it on the home page.

Easy navigation

 - never more than 2 clicks from any page to any other page (1 is better).

Avoid ‘black hat’ techniques

DO NOT on any account employ any ‘dubious’ techniques (‘black hat’ SEO) – Google is likely to penalise you heavily for this. This includes but is not limited to :

~ Text that is the same colour as the background

~ Duplicate pages or obvious ‘doorway’ pages that are written purely for search engines

~ ‘Stuffing’ pages with keywords and phrases or using phrases that are not in context. Keywords/phrases should be between 5% and 20% (max) of content

~ Don’t use images or Flash instead of text. Google cannot read Flash

~ Don’t link to ‘link farms or FFA (free for all) sites

 

Links

1. Once you have done all the above you have done about as much ‘on-site’ optimization as you can and it is time to look at links.

2. MAKE SURE you submit to the Open Directory http://www.dmoz.org as soon as the site is complete, and follow their listing guidelines

3. Now get going on your incoming links campaign. Find as many relevant sites as you can and ask them if they will consider linking to your site.

4. The best links are links that:

~ Are from popular sites with a high Google page rank (check the PR of the page your link will be on) ~ Are from sites that are themed with your site in some way – i.e.the link is relevant ~ Include keywords in the link text.

 

Reciprocal Links

A lot of sites will only offer you a link if you give them one back. It is usually worth creating a links page just for this. Only put links up which are:

a)  relevant to your visitors

b) (obviously) not in direct competition with you

Ideally you will swap links only with sites that have an equivalent or higher PR than your own site/links page. (Get the Google toolbar if you don’t have it – it shows Page Rank)

OK, that’s about it for search engines. Just a couple to finish off:

Google is critical, most others a waste of time. Make sure you list in DMOZ (the Open Directory) and Google WILL find your site, but get as many other links – reciprocal if necessary – as you can. DMOZ is also the basis for unpaid results for several other search engines.

DO NOT use any automatic submission software or site as it will submit your site to a load of FFA pages and Google may penalise you.

Finally, for more on Google factors  look here

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