Article by Tim D Jones
Making simple changes to a website to improve search
engine rankings and drive traffic is not as complicated as it sounds. This
article details the factors that can be simply manipulated yet produce big
improvements if implemented correctly. They are worth bookmarking or printing
so they can be used in the future as a checklist when creating new pages or
reviewing your website.
1) Keyphrase Research - Before you can begin implementing any of the optimization techniques mentioned in the rest of this article, you will need to know which keyphrases you are going to optimize your site for. Once this is decided, everything becomes a lot clearer.
You should be able to get a rough idea of target keyphrases from the content on the pages within your site. At the end of the day, if there's not any content at which to target optimisation, achieving good search engine rankings will be very difficult and ultimately pointless! Visitors will leave immediately if they are not provided with the content they are searching for.
A frequent mistake is to target the keyphrases that drive the largest search volumes. It's important to target keyphrases that directly relate to your websites content, and the more defined the keyphrases are the better. Using keyphrases that may drive 120 high convertible visitors to your site each month is likely to be much better than targeting a highly competitive broad keyphrase that is only vaguely related to your business, even if it does attract 30,000 searches each month.
2) Page Titles - This is one of the key on-page elements that can be optimized. Each title should be different, and full of keyphrases related to the content of its page. Search engines often only display the first 65 or so characters of the page title, so it's important to get the most important keyphrases at the beginning of the page title. Also, the characters near the front of the page title are given more significance in algorithms.
The page title is displayed in the search engine results, so must make sense and encourage browsers to action the link. Finding a balance between readability and keyphrases density is a challenge but something that will improve with time and practise.
3) Meta Description - The meta description is not actually included in search engine algorithms, although as it is displayed in search engine results pages, it is vital it is optimised. Like page titles, the meta description should be specific to every page and contain text that is relevant to the key phrases that page is aimed at.
The meta description is limited to around 160 characters, so it can often be challenging to fit all the required info into such a small space. However, if no meta description is entered, search engines tend to grab a random chunk of text from the page, regardless if it makes sense or is useful to the searcher. You can avoid this from happening, by ensuring every page has a meta description of some variety.
4) Page Content - Page content is viewed as the best method of attracting visitors and incoming links to a website, so it's important that it is given sufficient time and resource. Search engines thrive on content, so the more content on your site the better for search engine rankings. Content is less important now in search engine algorithms than it has been however, I suggest ensuring every keyphrase that is being targeted is mentioned about every 100 words or so. Beware - don't fall into the trap of keyphrase stuffing! Search engines employ advanced techniques to track this and will more than likely pick up on it immediately and you could end up with a blacklisted site that is impossible to rank.