1. Quality Content

When I first started looking at SEO as a separate entity to website build, and basically learning the trade the hard way by building my own webistes, there was one phrase that I would continually hear, “content, content, content, content”, and it’s true. There is nothing more valuable you can do to optimise your site for search engines than offer unique well written content. A search engines aim is to serve up what it believes to be the most appropriate website for any given search to the end user.  Your job then is to try to provide that appropriate content and anticipate what the search engine visitor is looking for and wants.

Imagine we are the end user and we are searching for a PHP game arcade portal software to use for our websites. We go to our favorite search engine and search for the phrase “php game arcade portal software”. In this imaginary scenario let’s assume there are only 2 websites that target that phrase,

Website 1

Website 1 consists of a single page with 3 paragraphs of text. The text tells us that the company builds and sells a game arcade portal software package and give us a phone number to call or link to click on.

Website 2

Website 2 contains 30 plus pages all focusing on various game arcade portal software packages that we can buy and install technical explanations of how game arcade portal websites work.

Which website do you think the search engine is likely to offer to the user first? It’s a rather obvious example but it illustrates the importance of good content so your priority should be good quality content.  This does not translate to a huge website with lots of pages or volume based content.  The content must be targeted and purposeful or you are wasting your time with it.

2. Use Structural (Semantic) Mark Up and Separate Content from Presentation

Semantically structuring your mark up helps search engines understand the content of your webpage which is of course a good thing. Making proper use of heading elements is essential because search engines give more weight to the content within the heading elements.  Make proper and grammatically correct use of your <h> (header) tags.

Using CSS to separate the design elements from the content makes for much leaner code and makes it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for, which is content. Remember content is king, the most critical element to building a high quality SEO’d website.  Failure to provide good quality content will surely lead to failure quickly.

3. Titles and Meta Data

Providing pages with proper titles and meta data is essential. As discussed in the top 5 black hat SEO techniques section the meta description and meta keywords elements have been so misused in the past that Search
Engines now regard them as less important, it’s still important to use them and use them properly. Titles however still carry a lot of weight and when we think of semantic mark up it is obvious why. The title of anything is a declaration as to what the content might be, so make sure your page titles are a true representation of the content of the page.

4. Keyword Research and Effective Keyword Use

Create your website with keywords and key phrases in mind. Research keywords and key phrases you think people might use to find your site. Single words are not always the most effective target, try multi-word phrases that are much more specific to your product/service and you’ll be targeting end users that are much more likely to want what you are offering.

The old method of keywords was use the the keywords meta tag.  However, that method is now obsolete and generally given less weight by modern search engines, especially with Google.  Tactfully and effectively embed keywords throughout your content in such a manner that the structure and grammar remains correct and as much as possible enhanced by their usage.

Use the keywords and key phrases you’ve identified effectively throughout your website. Assign each page 2-3 of the keywords you’ve identified and use the keywords throughout all the important elements of the page. Those are,

  • Title
  • Meta Description
  • Meta Keywords (an obsolete item depreciated by most modern search engines)
  • Heading Elements <H1> <H2> <H3>
  • Text
  • Alt Tag
  • Title Tag
  • Links

Do you ignore the keywords meta tag completely?  No, but do not spend as much time focused on it as you might have been doing just a year ago.  Focus more on getting those keywords embedded in your content.

Tag Clouds:

This area borders on the edge of black hat SEO techniques that search engines do not particularly like.  In my opinion, you are wasting your time using them.  If search engines see a lot of tag clouds on a website, they may regard it as spamming and might penalize you for it.  Find a way to properly embed you keywords in the content itself without having to include a block of keywords anywhere on the page.  You will be money ahead and you will use up less valuable time you could of been using to improve your website.

5. Quality Inbound Links

Having inbound links to your website can be likened to having a vote for the good but there are good links and bad links so therefore votes for the good and votes that are bad. Good links are links from other web pages that are regarded highly by the search engines and are contextually relevant to the content of your page. Bad links are links from web pages that aren’t regarded highly or potentially banned by search engines and have no relevance to the content of your page.

For example;

Imagine we have a website that sells computers.

Link A: Link on the homepage of the Hi-Tech News website. = Good – website is relevant and link will be on a page higher than PR0 which carries a stronger vote than a link on a links page that is rarely visited.

Link B: Link on John Smiths Beer and Ale appreciation links page = Bad – links on a links page are always rated very low by search engines.

The amount of quality inbound links to your site therefore have some relevance on how high up the search engine your site is placed. When sourcing links you should be thinking of quality over quantity and deep linking to pages within your website not just the home page.

Conclusion

To the untrained eye, identifying if your site is potentially at risk from black hat techniques can be difficult.  There are lots of “SEO experts out there” that encourage use of black hat SEO techniques that can do great harm to your SEO strength in the search engine results pages (SERPS).  Contact us about doing a SEO evaluation of your website, a service which is very affordable and can pay off big dividends compared to what you would pay to have it done.