If you've got your own website, chances are you'll want people to be able to find it using search engines such as Google. There are millions of websites out there, so how can you get your site higher in search engine rankings? Read on for some handy hints and tips.
- Key words and phrases
- Domain and file names
- Meta Tags
- Optimising the HTML of your web page
- Getting keywords and phrases into your text
- Finishing touches
- Getting links to your website
- Submitting your site
1. Key words and phrasesChoosing appropriate key words and phrases is the most important thing you can do to help people find your site using a search engine. Let's imagine you have a website selling electric guitars. Obviously 'electric guitars' will be a key phrase, but there are a lot of websites dealing with this topic, so you might want to target some other key phrases too. You could target brand names, for example if you sell Gibson guitars, you might decide that 'Gibson Electric Guitars' is one of your key phrases. Or maybe you'd choose 'electric guitars for beginners'.
If you want help choosing and researching which key words to use, you might want to look at Yahoo Search Marketing, Wordtracker and Google's Keyword Tool.
Choosing your keywords and phrases is crucial, but once you've chosen them, you need to know what to do with them.
2. Domain and file namesOnce you've chosen your keywords and phrases, you should choose a domain name. Having your keywords or phrases in your domain name can give a big boost to your search ranking. Similarly, each page on your site should have a file name that reflects its content, and therefore its keywords. E.g. if your site is about electric guitars, and you have a page about Gibson guitars, your URL might look like this http://www.electric-guitars.com/gibson_guitars.htm
3. TitlesYour page title should describe the contents of your webpage in one sentence. The title is visible both in search engine results and in browser windows, and this is an important place to get your key phrases. You should aim to get your key phrase as early in the page title as possible, so if you've decided to target 'Electric guitars for beginners' and you have a webpage that covers this topic, your title might be something like 'Electric guitars for beginners from Brand X Guitars'.
Your page title will look like this in the HTML of your webpage:
<TITLE>Electric guitars for beginners from Brand X Guitars</TITLE>
To get the best results, each webpage on your site should have a unique title that relates to its content.
4. Meta TagsThe meta description tag describes the content on your site. This is less important for getting high search rankings than it used to be, however it is still used by search engines, and importantly is used as the text summary you see when doing a search on Google.
The meta tags look like this in the HTML of your webpage:
<meta name="description" content="A summary of the contents of this webpage">
<meta name="keywords" content="A list of the keywords you have chosen for this webpage">
You should aim to get your keywords and phrases into the description, and ideally as early in the description as possible.
You should fill the keywords tag with a list of the relevant keywords and phrases for this page. Try to keep to between 15-20 keywords and phrases in this tag.
5. Optimising the HTML of your web pageSearch engines see content within certain 'tags' as more important than other content. You should aim to get your keywords and phrases into header tags, which look like this:
<h1>Add your title here</h1>
(Header tags range from h1 up to h7 - with h1 being the biggest).
You should also look to get your keywords and phrases into tags which will make the text appear in bold.
6. Getting keywords and phrases into your textThis is the most important thing for you to consider. If you choose keywords and phrases, put them in header tags, titles and meta data, but not in the body text of your page, you've wasted your time.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that writing text for search engines is different to writing text for human readers. It's not. What's good for a human reader will generally be good for search engines too.
You should scatter your keywords and phrases throughout the page (this will happen naturally with a well focussed page anyway - how could you write a page about electric guitars for beginners without mentioning electric guitars?). Try not to overload the page with your keywords though - this can be considered as spamming and could seem odd to people reading your site. Getting your key phrases into the opening paragraph is also important.
7. Finishing touchesIf you've got images on your page, you should try and get your keywords and phrases into the 'Alt text' (this is the text that appears if you hover over an image with your mouse cursor). Also, if you have links between pages on your site, it is good to get your keywords into the hyperlink text.
8. Getting links to your websiteOne factor that search engines deem to be very important is the number of links to your page from other websites. This is more difficult for you to control, but there are tried and tested link building techniques such as distributing press releases and contributing articles. You could also set up pages on sites such as Myspace that link back to your website. Another option is to persuade friends and family to link to your website from their own sites.
9. Submitting your siteGoogle accounts for the vast majority of web searches in the UK. If you want Google to look at your pages you can submit your site to Google - submit your site now. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo! also have their own site submission facilities.