Getting your site at the top of the search engine rankings is always challenging, but it's not rocket science. A sensible approach to handling your websites content is key. Content is king, not only for SEO but also for your actual site visitor. Your human visitor needs to be your top priority. Design your content so that human visitors can get maximum benefit from your content as quickly and as easily as possible and search engines will follow.
Google regularly changes its search algorithms to come up with more natural and accurate search capabilities. In the good old days you just packed in the keywords into your meta tags and waited for Google to index you. These days Google focuses heavily on a pages actual content. It strives to first of all understand the pages core purpose, then it sees how relevant that page is to your industry and the various search terms that internet users key into google.com.
Googles latest round of search engine algorithm updates point to the fact that pages with no relevant content are less likely to be ranked as highly than pages with more relevant well authored content.
Having videos, rich imagery, infographics etc. are great for maintaining the visitors interest and are vital, however bear in mind that still one of the most important SEO ranking factors is still relevant, well written content.
We try and keep things simple at Sulware when it comes to SEO advice. Bear in mind the following 7 steps and you'll soon see your rankings starting to rise:
- Every page has a key purpose in your site, and should be unique, (i.e. don't repeat pages in large sitemaps, which happens more often than you may think, especially when there are multiple content contributors).
- Once you know what the pages core purpose is, carefully construct the content all the time remembering that your human reader is the primary reader with the search engine coming in second. As the content author you HAVE to assume that the visitor has a low attention span online. They're on this page for a specific reason. Make sure the content delivers on the pages promise as quickly and concisely as possible.
- Use header tags! <h1> tags should be unique on the page and should leave the visitor in no doubt as to what this page is about. Use <h2>, <h3> tags to break down the content as required, again further emphasising key concepts / info the page needs to get across. At all costs avoid using imagery for your tags. There's a wild variety of fonts that can now be safely used in browsers. Find one that suits you and use <h1> text instead. [Sulware CMS Tip: Just mark the text you want to have as a header, and select the header type in the Formats drop down.]
- Use ALT Tags - Images are king for users. Rich imagery engages and stimulates the reader. Keeping their attention on the page when required. However for Google they mean nothing until you fill in the Alt Tags on the images. While the image acts as an immediate way for a human to associate with the general idea being expressed by the content, you have to let the search engine know what's going on also. Make the alt tag descriptive and relevant. [Sulware CMS Tip: Everytime you add an image to the content use the image insert tools from the editor and you can specify the alt -tags there]
- Don't forget the Meta tags - Yes Google now analyses the actual pages content to index and rank a page, but that doesn’t mean the need to keep your meta tags up to scratch is now gone. The Meta Title tag should be unique for every page on your site and should get the key message across for this pages purpose. It's brief and remember, it's a page title so nothing too wildly descriptive. Use the Meta Description tag for the more descriptive meaning. This should be a two liner describing the key focus for this page. Google will use the Title and Description together when pumping out search engine results to the user. Finally, although not really relevant anymore, we believe the Meta Keywords tag still should be used. If for no other reason to keep you, the content author focused on just how you expect people to find your page through a search engine. Put in your search terms. Don't pack them in, just the top 3 or 4 search terms is fine. [Sulware CMS Tip: Meta tags are managed in the Page Editor screen for every page]
- Internal Anchor Text Links: Links scattered throughout your pages content to other internal pages on your site are common and essential items. Avoid generic "Click here" links. When linking to other internal content use the key term in your link. This will give more weight again to the page being linked to.
- External links: This is still a key way for google to decide how relevant your site is. There are online services that promise to provide hundreds of link backs to your site. These really need to be avoided. Time needs to be taken to create real links from related sites. A good link from a popular site in the same or related industry sector is worth hundreds of useless, non related links.
Don't forget also to get yourself familiar with Google Analytics. It's a terrific piece of software provided by Google to give you a deeper insight to where your traffic is coming from and how people are finding your site online. Check out my Google Analytics blog entry here.