The following are key factors, both on and off the page, in how to best optimise a website for Google:
Keyword identification and prioritisation
Identifying keywords that are relevant to the content of web pages is the best place to begin. Keywords should be well researched. This will make other optimisation factors a whole lot easier to work with once a list of “fine tuned” keywords have been identified and prioritised. Many of these factors depend on highly relevant keyword selection.
The ranking algorithm that Google uses will not favour inappropriate or overused keyword repetition (density). Hidden text used to trick search engines will also not favour well with Google. Single keywords may also prove difficult to favour highly with Google’s algorithms. Often a selection of relevant keywords can be used together to form a keyword phrase. Each keyword phrase should focus on one theme, idea or subject.
URL & domain name
At least one keyword can be used in a domain name, web page name or directory.
The title of a web page is generally used to describe the content that is displayed on it. Keyword selection must then, once more, be well researched and relate to the content on the web page concerned. Google does not favour the use of special characters in the page title very highly. In general a page title should be approximately 64 characters long.
Content should contain at least 2 or 3 keywords within the very first paragraph of the body text on a web page. These keywords can be given extra emphasis by placing them in HTML tags which are bolded. Additional emphasis can also be given by placing keywords in H1, H2, or H3 headings. Another option is to place keywords in a slightly larger font size.
A Meta tag is useful for providing a search engine with a description (usually between 50 and 200 characters long) of a website and its content. Meta tags essentially provide a search engine with a “brief overview” or “theme” of a particular website. Google has become known for not regarding Meta tags as important ranking factors as do other search engines, such as that of Yahoo.
The tags should contain keywords that correspond with those that are apparent within the content of a web page. Single keywords should not be used more than once or twice or it will run the risk of being regarded as spam. Meta tags won’t be all that important for optimising your site for Google, but they will help if ranking in other search engines is important to your SEO campaign.
Once again, keywords are an important component of effective links and should be included in an actual link. Links should be carefully distributed to other websites that offer valuable and relevant content. Other websites chosen for external linking purposes must be of a high quality and those that clearly practice ethical SEO techniques. Your website will lose credibility if linked to another that is not highly regarded as one of quality and relevance.
Internal linking is important for the overall ranking position of a website. The linking structure must be easy enough for Google’s spiders to be able to crawl through it. A good rule of thumb is to create a simple hierarchy of links that offer no more than 3 clicks away from a home page or index page.
Web page updates
Google favours websites who consistently update their web pages to give them a fresh new look and feel, as well as the addition of new content. The more frequently this is done, the more odds are in your favour that Google’s “spiders” will crawl through web pages searching for content changes. If done properly, higher rankings can be achieved. Internet users (i.e.: target audience) will favour web page updates too.
A useful and beneficial means of practicing SEO is to submit a website to quality and relevant directories. Google appreciates website submissions to specialised directories and will not penalise them.
What Not to Do When Optimising your Site for Google
- The following are key factors in what not to do when optimising a website for Google:
- More graphics than content – Google will struggle to index a website if it cannot “interpret” what the theme of a website’s content is. Content as well as images is very important for Google to be able to rank a website.
- SEO overkill – over optimising a website can result in penalties being incurred by a search engine. Too much of a good thing is not healthy for a website’s rankings.
- Link farming and linking to poorly developed websites – this can result in a loss of credibility and will not build a quality reputation with both search engines and internet users.
- False redirects – internet users do not appreciate being redirected to web pages that they were not searching for in the first place. Search engines as a result disfavour dishonest redirects and can decide to penalise a website.
- Vulgar content – “bad words” may “sell” or attract attention, but are not a long term SEO technique. These kinds of words can be deemed as spam by Google and can also result in a penalty.
- Excessive cross linking – this can cause a network of websites that exclude “the outside world”. Internet users are directed to websites within the network who only link to one another. This is not pleasing to an internet user or to Google.
- Keyword stuffing – the use of random keywords over and over again is not relevant, and merely “destroys” content. Too many keywords do not provide quality and will be regarded as spam.
- Content should never be duplicated on a website – if Google suspects that content has been copied and appears too similar or an exact replica of some other body of text, rankings will suffer.
- Reliable server and service – a server that is prone to extended periods of down time could end up with lower rankings on Google. Down time periods of more than 48 hours means that a website is inaccessible to “spider” bots. Down time effectively means “temporarily out of service” to a search engine’s algorithms, as well as an internet user.
Optimising a website for Google takes time, effort and care. Google’s algorithms are carefully structured to best build a search listing facility that not only promotes good business but also provides the internet user with what they wish to find or need. The aforementioned factors all work together to best produce an SEO friendly website that can achieve effective brand awareness and business growth by being ranked highly on Google.