Here’s a link to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines: http://goo.gl/QHZi8. I put that there for your reference and I am going to summarize it here. Again, the good news is that YOU have control over most of the criteria for which your site will be ranked.
Create Great Content
Content is king. You should make every effort to create quality content. Well written content that is engaging will keep visitors on the page and that gives you ranking points. You don’t want them to “bounce”. A Google term for leave the page. Content is where keyword research pays off. You want to research the keywords and key phrases that you want to be found for. How do you do that? Well that topic is an article in itself and the point is we can do that for you. Perhaps the most important part of good content is fresh content. I know, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to update your website with fresh, crisp content but that’s the truth. Google rewards effort and that will boost your ranking more than anything else going forward.
Mark It Up With HTML
Once you have your content you need to present it in an organized manner. Article titles and page titles should use title tags with keywords in them. You also want to use a meta tag for a one or two sentence description of the content. Lastly use header tags (H1 - H6) to feature keywords and key search phrases.
Architect a Clean, Fast Website
Your website must be available to search robots for them to easily crawl and index. The load speed of your site is also a factor in ranking. If you host with us we use high-performance servers that are configured to deliver a webpage fast. Most popular web hosting services are quite slow by comparison. A final touch to your website are Search Engine Friendly URLs. We install a utility on all our websites that creates new URLs for all you pages that are short and user friendly as well as search engine friendly.
The above three items are completely in your control and if done correctly go a long way to improving your ranking. Google will reward you for doing it their way. Next we discuss so called “off page” SEO techniques. These are social networking and links to your site from other sites to name just two.
The more “important” a site is as determined by Google then the more important a link from them to you is. It’s worth it to get good quality links and the best way to do that is by offering good quality content. Getting links from various registry services is not very helpful. Once again keywords come into play as the links to your site will hopefully have those keywords that support your site being found. Of course, the more quality links you have the better. Not all links are good links as I’ll describe below.
You can enhance your SEO positioning by having a presence in social networks. Popular social networks are: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, and Linked In. Like and Share buttons on your page for these sites is becoming standard practice. A page on Facebook with occasional posts and links back to your website help. The key benefit of these sites are that they are “trusted”. If your content is being shared on these sites then you gain in the trust category.
Speaking of trust...consider whether the link and share activity occurring among external sites is occurring with sites that have a high trust ranking? If so then you are boosting your trust ranking. Examples of sites with high trust ratings are educational and government institutions. Domains that end in .edu or .gov. Additionally, any website that Google has determined to have a high trust ranking and expert in their body of knowledge.
Google search results are customized for the user. This Google feature, called “Venice”, was released in February of 2012 and it works like this. If a user searches for movie times then the results they get are local to their area. They will get a listing of theaters reasonably near them. Furthermore, if they have a favorite theater that they mostly click on then that theater will get moved up in the rankings as customized for them. Google uses your search history and keeps a 180 day record of what you search on. What this means to your SEO strategy is to use keywords that target the locality where the business is occurring. Create content that includes local references and street addresses with zip code in the areas where you do business.
Thus far we’ve talked about what you can do to improve your ranking. Now let’s talk about how you can get penalized by Google. Google is learning fast how to weed out those who try to game their system.
A thin website isn’t much different than a Facebook page. There’s not much there for Google to index. You want to keep Google busy. “Instant” or “Overnight” websites are examples of typically thin websites. You just are not going to be seen as proficient in whatever it is you do and no one will want to link to you.
Keyword Overuse and Abuse
If you overuse keywords to the point where your content is grammatically a joke then Google has a plan for you. It’s called Penguin. The Penguin set of features was also released in 2012. It’s purpose is to identify sites that stuff as many keywords as possible into it’s content and penalize them for it. It used to work but those days are over.
Another feature of the Penguin release of Google is the crackdown on paid links and link spam. There are organizations out there who sell links and Google knows who there are. They can sell you guaranteed links from hundreds of sites whose content has no value. Link spam is a little different. Bloggers deal with link spammers the most. A link spamming program will find a blog posting and make a comment on it such as “hey that’s great” and include a link to an unrelated site they want to promote and has nothing to do with your post or your site.
It used to be that you could show a search engine one page and show visitors another page and neither would be visible to the other. The technique is called cloaking. This was done to enhance ranking by gaming the algorithm.
We’ve discussed the basics of SEO in a general way. From the above you would put together a “baseline” program for SEO that is suitable for almost any website. The one thing we did not discuss is the competitive SEO environment that your business exists in. Examples of highly competitive search spaces are real estate, travel, and hospitality. If you want to rank high in a highly competitive search space you should not be asking the price. It’s like taking a seat at a high stakes poker table. Be prepared to bet big.
SEO is very important to your internet presence. Perhaps more important than design? Too many clients focus only on design that’s only part of the work. When you work with us we'll build your website while keeping in mind it doesn't matter what it looks like if no one knows it's there