The first of two posts on ensuring your content ranks better
I’m often asked for easy ways to improve a website’s search engine visibility. So I’ve put together a few tips to help you on your way to the top of Google’s search rankings.
As search engines become increasingly sophisticated so too do the algorithms they use to decide which websites rank best for any given search terms. This means SEO gurus and wizards are forever trying to stay one step ahead of the game.
On top of this, search engines frequently move the goal posts in an attempt to limit the rankings of websites using ‘black hat’ SEO practices. While it is now common knowledge that tactics such as buying links and keyword stuffing will negatively affect rankings, these techniques were all common practice not too long ago.
So what can you do to create SEO friendly articles and blogs? Well, here are a selection of tactics which should help increase your website’s ranking and improve user experience.
- Create high quality original content
I’ve always seen this as a win-win. Creating new content for your website is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and gives you something tangible to attract new clients with. It’s also one of the best ways to rank higher.
Google and other search engines love content. In fact, the basis of any SEO strategy should be producing relevant, engaging, helpful, well-written and regularly updated content. Link your content to a Google + profile, continue to publish quality articles/ blogs on a certain topic and Google will eventually identify you as an expert.
This is not a tactic which lends itself to taking shortcuts. Google will latch onto practices such as creating duplicate content, poor quality copy and keyword stuffing…
- Do not stuff your piece with keywords
Are you writing a post about broadband prices in the UK? Resist the temptation to litter the words “cheap broadband prices” throughout the article. Google’s objective is to present users with content that is useful to them. This means well-thought out pieces written to satisfy the reader and not the current itineration of a search engine algorithm.
What’s the ideal keyword density? There isn’t one recognised standard. Some experts advise trying to keep it at 3%, whereas others suggest using keywords a maximum of 15 times. However the focus should be making sure your writing is clear and the emphasis is on creating value for the user first and Google second. There’s no point having a potential client arrive on your website only to be confronted with near-illegible copy.
In the words of Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s WebSpam Team, try reading your content aloud. Does it make sense? Is it clear? Does it respond to the needs of your audience?
- Do help Google figure out what you’re writing about
Having warned you about keyword stuffing, now it’s time to tell you when you need to use keywords. Some elements of creating a page that ranks well for a certain keyword are pretty straightforward.
The best example is your title. It is essential that you front load your title with the keywords you want it to rank for. Your title acts as a signpost to both readers and search engines, so if you’re writing a post which you want to rank for ‘fishing in Alaska’, make sure those words appear. The best way to do this is by keeping it simple.
To help inspire you, find out what people are searching for in relation to your keywords and build your post around answering their questions. In this example you could try ‘Fishing in Alaska holiday packages’, or ‘The best time to go fishing in Alaska’.
Having said all this, don’t get carried away. As mentioned before, you are writing for people first and Google second. Make sure your title is clear, to the point and check out how it will look when it appears in a results page.
Oh and don’t forget meta descriptions. These appear beneath the blue link to a website on the search results page and are pivotal in getting people to click through. Your meta description should be rich and descriptive and tell readers why they should click on the link above. Google bolds search terms so have keywords in there and make sure it’s under 160 characters or it’ll get cut!
Michele Martinelli is a London based writer, you can follow him on @Greatbites.
Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips? Let me know in the comments below.