Five ways to improve on page SEO

Visibility is everything!

In this third part of four posts on SEO, I’m considering the best ways to improve on page search engine optimisation.

1. Keywords: Keywords are critical as they drive your messaging, content and search. It’s important that there is synergy between how your site is written and what browsers are looking for. But there’s more to it than filling your web page content with keywords. Search engines have got wise to this and downgrade sites that don’t appear to read well.

2. Meta structure: Keywords need to be built in to your meta structure – the code that sits behind the website. Why? Placing relevant and targeted keywords in the meta description and tags indicates to a search engine bot that your website is genuinely serving content in relation to the keywords in question.

3. URLs: The titles you give to each page on your website should be presented clearly and simply. They should adequately relate to the content on that page to give the search engine bots the best chance of indexing the page correctly. This refers to both the domain (for example ‘www.website.com’) and the sub pages (for example ‘www.website.com/news’).

4. Alt and h tags: Images should have a text-based alternative (alt tag), again to help the search engine bot to index and display information about the image if it doesn’t load correctly. Check that you’ve built in alternative (alt) tags for all images used throughout your website. Copy on web pages should have heading (h) tags. Again, search engine bots place importance on headings and tags as part of the overall structure of a page and the serving of relevant content. Primary and secondary headings (h1 and h2) are generally the most important.

5. Sitemaps: Sitemaps are probably the most important but often overlooked element of SEO. Sitemaps act like a table of contents for search engine bots, allowing them to index the entire site from one convenient text-based resource.

Summary: Selecting keywords used by your target audience and feeding them through the content and code of your website gives it a greater chance of ratings success.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Click the link to view.

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Searching for the SEO pot of gold

In a recent B2B Marketing magazine article (Feb 2011, Best Practice) SEO experts in the b2b marketing sector mused on the forthcoming changes in this space. Here I lay out the essence of what they said and discuss why I agree and disagree with some of it.

Mobile, undeniably, is the growth area. Smart phone use in particular (which asa device is slated to outstrip the computer in providing Internet access by 2013), is growing at phenomenal rates. Companies need to reconcile the importance of search to business customers in tandem with understanding how search is conducted differently ‘on the go’.

Google Instant Preview, was slated as the biggest change in search, completing search strings when browsers entered terms. I’m not sure. Doesn’t this take more time and need more clicks, just like when predicative texting was first introduced?

The main point about Social Search focused on how the recent tie up between Facebook and Bing could mean more search activity takes place within Facebook meaning more people stay within the site longer. Though important, social media optimisation is more than just Facebook based.

Sitemaps are undeniably crucial in directing visitors to relevant web content, and their role is growing as more rich content is used by website owners. And having greater visibility over incoming and outgoing social media links will make them more relevant.

New generic top level domains like .eco .sport and .music are going to fuel a goldrush scramble by existing domain registrants to secure the new variants that might impact on their business. Whether they will become mainstream remains to be seen.

Local focus will continue to grow in 2011 as the various geolocation services incorporate offers, benefits and other time sensitive and loyalty affirming promotions. Google already returns local searches, integrating mapping functionality. Ensuring your business is correctly indexed with Google Places, Yell, FreeIndex and other online directories is key to this, but often overlooked.

But without giving marketers to0 much to think about, I’d also add the following to the mix as critical in 2011.

Long tail search involving the use of longer, more specific phrases rather than overused, but increasingly generic single word terms garner more targeted results. Each of the main search engines has a keyword tool which can be used to inform your SEO efforts. Use them. And check them regularly.

Links are still strong currency, and it is an important strategy to build a credible bank of incoming links from related and high traffic sites to boost your own visibility and overall search rank. Linked to social media, it makes sense, in this respect to create profiles with back links to your website to support this.

Integration remains central to any and all marketing effort. Only when all your marketing activities are joined up, pointing in the same direction, formed around the same messages and using a consistent vocabulary can truly effective SEO have the right conditions in which to thrive. Remember that the visitor who has arrived at your site through search has probably been influenced by advertising, direct marketing, email, a trade show, editorial, a forum posting or other reference elsewhere online OR offline.

Interestingly, the article also made no mention of multi language SEO and regional domain hosting, presumably because no b2b companies operate abroad…but that is a point for another day!

Supercharge your SEO

Search is the dominant tool information hungry consumers and professional buyers use to seek out suppliers, solutions and assess costs. And within search there is a growing preference for organic listing rather than pay-per-click advertising. We’re all just a bit more sceptical of ads than we used to be. Think about it, when did you last click an advert?

Search should be a critical part of your marketing strategy. Put simply it means your website continues to sweat while your office is closed. And what a waste of money a beautiful but poorly optimised site would be.

It is getting harder not to get sucked in by the ‘we can get you on page one of Google brigade if you spend £xxxx a month’ brigade. There is a way of actually saving yourself time, effort and money in the long term. And that involves getting your website optimisation right in one single swoop.

What is true is that the Google algorithm is getting ever more sophisticated as it seeks to protect the integrity of search. But by structuring your website right and with the search engines in mind, you can improve your organic ranking fairly quickly by considering these six steps:

1. Meta data, titles and tags – this is in the coding and text based structure that search engines read to index your site. Use the same keywords, provide a meta description, use the best possible keyword rich page naming structure and assign tags to all images and headings on each and every page.

2. URL indexing – add the home page URL to all major search engine indexes, eg by going to www.google.com/addurl.

3. Incoming links – target the most important high traffic sites and post incoming links. This could be social networking and filesharing sites like Linkedin, Facebook and YouTube, but equally relevant media sites, trade association sites, supplier and customer sites.

4. Sitemap – a sitemap is critical as it acts like a directory. Ensure it sits on the home page, if not every page.

5. Regular home page content – updating content ensures that the site is viewed as current and relevant. For this reason feature the latest news and/or blog activity on the home page. This plays a massive part in achieving higher organic search listing.

6. Use of Google location tools – whether you love or hate Google, you can’t deny how powerful many of its free to use applications are in promoting your business. Go to www.google.co.uk and click Business Solutions.