In the world of on-line business it is vital that you stand out from the crowd, and that you rank above your competitors within the major search engines. There are two main ways in which you can gain rankings over your competition, first is to pay for the privilege by way of setting up a Pay Per Click campaign, and the second is via “natural listings” or “SEO” .
Below are some useful tips to help you on your way to dominating your competitors within the Natural Search Results. These tips are aimed at the beginner starting out on the journey of SEO, you may be a business owner wishing to gain the upper hand or you may be a web designer looking to learn the arts of search engine optimisation, either way I think these tips will help:
1: Clean & Tidy Coding
Ok so an easy one to start with, having clean and tidy code is often the best place to start with SEO, it acts like a foundation for you to build upon. Having code that is compliant to the latest W3C standards will go a long way in ensuring that your website works across the major web browser platforms, is fast loading and easy to use. Google likes sites which are fast to load.
Check your sites compliance to the standards by visiting: http://validator.w3.org.
2: Title Tag’s
The <title> tag on your web pages is the most important tag for SEO, it tells the users and the search engines what to expect when reading your page. It also forms the “head line” in the Search Results on the search engines results pages (SERPs). Make sure you include your primary search terms at the beginning of the <title> tag. If you are optimising a page to a secondary term you may also include these in the <title> tag.
There are a few ways you can write a <title> tag, but the most common that SEO’s use are one of two styles:
- Separated by a “pipe” – <title>Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword</title>
- Separated by a “hyphen” – <title>Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword</title>
However you write yours is entirely up to you, it makes very little difference to the search engines, but they both look nice in the SERPs.
One thing to note about the <title> tag is that you should stick to titles no longer than 70 characters in length, and longer and you run the risk of them being truncated by the search results.
3: Meta Description
The Meta Description tag is less important for physical search rankings than in the past, however it is still vitally important, this is why…
The Meta Description tag forms the “advert text” in the SERPs. Combined with a well written <title> tag, the meta description should be used to form an eye catching advert, which people want to click on. It acts similar to the AdText of a Pay Per Click Advert. Descriptions should be no longer than 180 characters in length, for similar reasons to the <title> tag.
4: Meta Keywords Tag
It is a common mis-conception that to rank well in the search engines you need to have a Meta Keywords tag, this is no longer the case. The Meta Keywords tag used to be very important in helping the search engines determine what the page content was about. It is important to note that it is no longer used in the Google algorithm as a rankings signal. You can even get a site to rank without even placing one within your code.
Hear what Matt Cutts (Google) has to say about the Keywords Tag here:
5: Write Website Content For Your Visitors
This is a difficult one for people new to SEO to fully appreciate, you must always write site content for your visitors. Your content needs to be well formed, well written and useful to your web site visitors. The possible effects of this are:
- They may come back to check for updates, especially useful if you are running a blog.
- If they like what the see they may link back to your website, creating those all important “back links”.
- They may share your content with their friends, via Twitter, Facebook etc…
The search engines will also prefer more “naturally worded” content, if you write for the search engines you are likely to over use keywords and you may be seen to be “keyword stuffing”.
6: Follow The Big Fish
This is a little play on words from my part, you should always follow and listen to the industry leaders, one of these is Rand Fishkin. Rand is a fantastic SEO and an inspiration to a lot of people in the industry, his company, SEO Moz are arguable the industry leading SEO company in the world. Makesure you follow SEO moz on Twitter, they also have a great blog packed full of information from the basic tips through to more advanced SEO techniques. They also provide a nice set of SEO Tools for premium members of their website.
7: Think Outside Of The Box
To be a good SEO you need to think outside of the box, often the people who succeed in the SEO industry are the ones who are able to spot opportunities, and to be able to recognise what will potentially help your site rank and what may damage its rankings.
Often when performing SEO on your clients websites its not always straight forward, you need to think of ways you can build content which will help a particular site gain backlinks.
8: Get Some Backlinks
This is possibly the most important tip to take away from this post!! Backlinks are what can make (or break) your SEO efforts. They are vitally important for websites aiming to succeed in the search engines and out rank their competition.
A backlink in its simplest form is a link from another site back to yours, in an ideal world your website / content will generate links naturally. To achieve this your content needs to be top notch, useful and appealing to its target audience. However not all sites fall into this category, believe me!!! If you are SEOing a plumbing site for example, it will be very difficult to generate content which people will naturally link to. In this instance you have to “build backlinks” yourself.
9: Build A Network Of SEO’s
This is a great way to expand your SEO knowledge, get talking to other SEO’s in the industry, bounce ideas off them, ask for their advice. People generally like to help and feel like they are providing something useful, building a network of other SEO’s has proven invaluable to me over the years.
Set up a Twitter account and follow & interact with other SEO’s. You should also consider creating a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one.
As an SEO you will soon find that every site to work on is different from the last, what worked for one site might not work for another. Always look at experimenting with a mixture of different SEO techniques, don’t be scared to try new things, research your new ideas to see if others have tried them out before, use your “network of SEO’s” to bounce the ideas around. Often you will find that people have tried things out and are able to give you some great advice on what to do and what to avoid.
Thats all from me….for now.
Well there you have it, my Top Ten Tips for beginners learning SEO, remember to check back herefor further advice and helpful information regarding SEO & Natural Search.
By for now