There are thousands of things contributing to Google’s algorithm, which determines a website’s position in the search results. The actual formula used is top secret, but we can use a combination of Google Best Practice plus information gleaned from testing to make sure that a website is as search engine friendly as possible.
Step 1. Design and Content
Take a critical look at your website; is it the best site in the world for the category you would like to be ranking 1st for?
Google is looking for evidence that this website is what people are looking for, so make sure that you are offering high quality, information-rich content that is relevant and updated regularly. Write in a way that clearly and accurately describes your topic, and design the page so that visitors can instantly find what they are looking for. It’s also important to include keywords and phrases in a natural way, to avoid being penalised for ‘keyword-stuffing’.
- Limit ads placed above the fold
- At least one static text link to every page
- Clear CTA (buttons highlighted, and in a contrasting colour etc)
- Contains current, informative and interesting content
- Easy to navigate
- Visually appealing design that attracts the eye and encourages people to stay
- Keywords included naturally
Step 2. Technical SEO
Google is looking for sites that offer a great user experience, so things like slow load times and error messages are going to be a major disadvantage. It’s also really important to ensure that all of your sites assets are able to be easily crawled, which means setting up the Robots.txt file and XML Sitemaps. Meta data including titles, keywords and descriptions tells the crawlers and visitors to your page what it’s about, and HTTPs SSL Certification is required for secure web browsing.
- Meta tags included
- URL’s are well-constructed, consistent and use hyphens (-) not underscores (_)
- Logical website link structure
- Site map points to all important sections of your website
- Ensure that your server supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header (saving you both bandwidth and overhead)
- Allow all site assets to be crawled
- Test your site, to ensure that it appears correctly in all browsers
- Monitor site performance (load speed times etc)
- Images contain keywords in ALT Tags
Step 3. Off-site SEO
Google rewards sites that they recognise as displaying signals of online trust. Back links to your website act as ‘votes’ that add up to become valuable assets to your websites ranking. However it’s essential that these are handled carefully, as low quality or ‘spammy’ back links to your site can have a negative effect – or even result in Google penalising your site, which can be difficult to bounce back from. Proceed with a ‘quality over quantity’ mentality, ensuring that links are from high quality, authoritive and relevant websites. A solid social media presence with high levels of engagement is another way of strengthening your off-site SEO, alongside company information in a range of online local directories.
- Brainstorm a diverse range of sites that are relevant to your industry you could create quality back links from
- Include social networks, social bookmarking sites, blogs, websites, blog comments and forums
- Include your keyword in the anchor text when natural and in a variety of different phrases, but avoid using the same keyword repeatedly (as it looks like you are trying to manipulate the system)
- Post relevant and engaging content to social media sites, particularly Google+, LinkedIn and FaceBook
- Ensure that your company information (NAP) is exactly the same across all directories
- Don’t be spammy. It’s obvious, and people recognise it straight away damaging your site’s reputation as well as its SEO
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