At a Netsquared event I attended recently (http://www.netsquared.org/blog/claire-sale/netsquared-camp-vancouver-event-recap) one of the more interesting sessions they had was on SEO. What is SEO? Well it stands for Search Engine Optimization, and behind it are the guiding principles to getting your site as high as possible on the list of search engine’s results pages. In this article I’m going to briefly touch on some the elements discussed. Even if you don’t have your own website, this article will give you an idea if the things to consider if ever want to design one.
1. Create unique, accurate page titles
The <title> tag within your html code should contain relevant information about your site. It’s important because the information placed here will often be the first line of your results as they show up on Google. In turn, this information decides whether users will click on your site in the list of search results. Three important points to remember for this are to: (1) accurately describe the pages content, (2) create unique title tags for each page, and to (3) use brief but descriptive titles.
2. Make use of the “description” meta tag
The meta tag may not be as big of a role in getting a high Google rank as it once did, but it’s still important. The meta tag in your html code gives search engines a summary of what your page is about. The description should generally be longer than that of your <title> tag – perhaps a few sentences. There is a good chance that search engines will use this description as the description of your site in their search results.
3. Improve the structure of your URLs
Be sure to use descriptive words in your site’s url and sub url’s instead of generic terms or numbers. For example, use http://www.mysite.com/article-about-blueberries instead of http://www.mysite.com/page2 or http://www.mysite.com/349873298. This will not only keep your site more organized, but also allow search engine bots to crawl your site more effectively.
4. Make your site easier to navigate
Organizing the pages of your site in a logical, hierarchical manner will allow user to navigate it more easily and allow search engines to understand how your site fits together. Most importantly, always have a well designed home page that leads to the other content on your site. Secondly, use breadcrumbs (e.g. Home > Articles > Finance Articles > Finance Articles 2008) so that your site structure is clear to everyone.
6. Write better anchor text
Anchor text is the clickable text in the links on your site. For example, in <a href=http://www.google.com>click me</a> it is the “click me” portion of the tag. This text tells Google something about the page your linking to, whether it’s within your site or an external page.
7. Use heading tags appropriately
Heading tags are the (<h1>, <h2>, up to <h6>) html code that you can place your headings within. Search engine bots that crawl your webpage will recognize that these tags provide a summary of some of the content on your site. Additionally, they keep things organized from a user persepective.
8. Promote your website in the right ways
Your number of backlinks, or links from other websites that link to your site, are one of the most important factors in determining your page rank. Properly promoting the content of your site will increase your backlinks, and thus push up the Google search results.
9. Offer quality content and services
Interesting sites with compelling content will probably increase awareness of your site more than any factor mentioned here. Write original, creative content, or provide a valuable service, and you’ll find your site rising to the top of the search listing very quickly.