As the head of Search & Social for Websquare, I have been asked to create an article for all those visitors that we get who want to know what they can do themselves in order to help raise their rankings on the main search engines, including Bing, Yahoo and of course, the big G. So that is what I’m writing about today. I hope it helps you and that you can learn something new from at least some of the points I make. So, here we go.
1) A Great Domain
This is one of the first points I’d like to make for important on-page factors for SEO. Some years back it used to be enough to buy an exact match domain and launch a basic and simple 3 page website to get to number one for many, not so competitive, key-terms. However, these days, search engines are far too smart to allow that to happen.
Although it is still very important to try to include the key-term in the URL, if possible, this is now only one of more than 200 factors which go towards deciding where your site will rank. I personally try to avoid exact match domains. I would much rather go for a name for the branding possibilities of the name I choose.
Try to ensure the number of characters in your domain name is kept to a minimum. Ideally, try to ensure you have no more than 8 characters for best results. As far as branding goes, this also helps. Try to think of a few big brands and count the characters in the name. Look at Google, Twitter, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Nokia, Amazon, EBay and so on. I’m sure you’re getting the picture.
Now, for inner pages, you can have www.yourname.com/your-keyterm-here.html to ensure you still include your key-terms in the URL. Remember, though, that the shorter the URLs, the better.
2) Avoid Duplicate Content
The most important point I would make is to ensure that you don’t have any duplicate content on your website. There are various types of duplicate content and it’s so important that your site does not have any of these because, if it does, it will make it hard, if not impossible, to get a good ranking position.
The types of duplicate include internal duplicate content, which is one page on your own site with identical (or similar) text or even blocks of identical (or similar) text to another page on your site. Another form of duplicate is having identical title tags or descriptions. Another is external duplicate content. This is where you have content on a page of your site which is similar or identical to a page from another website.
Any of these will cause problems for you in terms of SEO. Make sure you don’t have any of them. If you do, it is important that you fix the issue if you want to rank well. If you have hundreds or even thousands of offending pages, it will be almost impossible to fix such an issue, unless you have a decent budget and can employ someone to work on it for you.
3) Header Tags
Header tags, or H1, H2 and H3 etc. tags, are important as far as the search engines are concerned. These tags tell the engines what keywords or phrases are important on the site. Make sure that you use these properly. These should be no more than a single H1 tag on any page as this tells the engines that the words in this tag are the number one key-terms you want to be found for. If, after that, you want to add H3 tags for example, make sure you have at least one H2 tag which is on the page as well. It’s not best practice, for example, to have an H1 tag and then an H3 tag and have no H2 tag on the same page.
4) Titles & Descriptions
Make sure that each title and description is unique. Include the keywords or phrase that you want to be found for within the title and description. Also, it is best practice to have the key-term as close to the start of the content as possible. For example, if your page is about Gold wedding rings and ‘gold wedding rings’ is the term you want to be found for, a title would be best written like this:
‘Gold Wedding Rings. We sell jewellery of all kinds. Call today.’
And the description would be:
‘Gold wedding rings. We have a massive selection of necklaces and other jewellery at rock bottom prices. Contact us today for a no-nonsense service.’
Don’t stuff keywords in. No keyword should be used more than twice. Once is best, if possible.
5) Create Quality, Original Content – and plenty of it.
Content is key to good rankings. I cannot stress how important unique content is but it goes even further than that. Whenever I am writing content, I make sure I write straight out of my head and that I never copy even one sentence of text from anywhere else. Once I finish an article, I then go back and use a thesaurus to add at least one large, not so commonly used, word in order to ensure there is no other article out there about this subject which uses these unusual words. This also beefs up the piece because I will often need to write a new sentence to incorporate these new words.
Make sure your site has proper canonicalisation in place. This will help ensure that no duplicate content can appear unexpectedly. Sorry, I don’t have the space to go into more detail on this point.
Make sure you submit a sitemap to Google so that they can find new content when it appears on your website. Make sure, also, that your sitemap does not include pages which should not be indexed. Otherwise, Google will ignore the robots.txt command and index the page, or at least the title and URL of it.
8) Social Media Integration
Social media integration is a must for every serious webmaster. You can find more info on this subject further down this article, under point.
9) Images and title attributes
Try to ensure that at least one image is on each page of your website and include a title attribute. The title is the text which pops up when a visitor hovers over an image or link. Lots of people get this confused with the Alt tag. The alt tag is the text which appears underneath an image, in case a browser cannot show the image.
10) Quality, Relevant, Link Building.
Now, because link building is what 80% of SEO is all about (They say 80% is off page and only 20% is on page) I felt like I needed to make sure that at least half of this article needed to be dedicated entirely to the different methods and techniques for link building.
11) Link Building with Social Media
Now, Social media integration into your link building campaign is vital, especially if you want to maximise your chances of the article going viral. Every time you publish a new article, whether it is on an article directory or in a news press submission website or whatever, make sure that you use your Twitter, Google+ and your Facebook account (and any other social media account you may have, e.g. LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram etc.) to ensure that the new article can be viewed and linked to from these accounts. I usually write a tweet or a short, unique post to let people know that they can also read this great article about whatever, by simply clicking this link. This always works a treat. Anyone who is serious about content marketing, and if they really know what they are doing, will be using this technique to maximise the readership of each article they craft and publish.
12) Link Building with Directory Submission, including Niche Directories
Most people think that link building using directories is not as beneficial as it once was, but the truth is that you need to build quality links in niche directories to benefit your SEO strategy. Niche directories are more relevant to the type of product or service you offer, therefore they relate to and attract the right customer. Using general directories just won’t cut it. Link building is one of the most important things you can do, especially for start-ups. I recommend you start looking for niche directories that have good page authority.
13) Link Building with Article Directories, including Paid Directories
Submitting articles to an article directory is still an effective way of driving traffic because of it being a content orientated strategy. As we all know, Google loves content. The major benefit of article directories is that you can use links inside your article, which increases your online visibility and search ranking. You can also use paid directories that have been proven to boost your article’s visibility and produce faster results for ranking higher on Google.
14) Link Building with Info graphics.
Attaching content with images has proven to be a very powerful link builder. Infographics are pieces of information such as data or statistics that are visually delivered using graphics, hence info-graphics. They have the potential to go viral, which in turn builds links to your site.
15) Link Building with Your Contacts & other Relevant Webmasters
If you have access to your webmaster, creating opportunities for link building might be available to you. Creating resource pages might be a good strategy. Be creative with your link building strategy and always think how your audience will see them.
16) Link Building with Profile Links
Signing up and becoming a member of a site can give you access to your own profile to link back to your site with, but some sites have no-follow links that don’t pass link juice to your site.
17) Link Building with Competitor Backlink Analysis
It’s always a great idea to do some research on your competitors, you don’t want to spend too much time on focusing on building the same links as them, the trick is to creatively think where and why are your competitors building links, and to use this information to either secure a link that your competitors are taking advantage of or think of any that will outrank them.
18) Link Building with Press Releases
Press release sites or syndication sites can help build links if you are associated with a brand. With recent Google updates you need to be careful how you optimise your anchor text in an online press release, consider only using a couple of links to get customers over to your site.
19) Link Building with Video Submissions
If you have premium video content, there are definite SEO benefits to using video content to build links. Google sees that it is multimedia content and favours this over anything else. Including links inside the video description, on Youtube for instance, can be great in building authoritative links to your site.
20) Link Building with Review Rating Websites.
A great majority of customers look to review a brand. If you are an ecommerce company, feedback is very important in helping potential customers decide if they want to buy from you. These reviewing sites also gives you the opportunity to build on your links.
21) Last but by no means least, Link Building with Guest Posting.
One of the most popular ways to build links, if not the most popular, is, you guessed it (pun-intended), guest posting. The way you guest post is to identify blogs that have high readerships in your area of expertise, preferably ones with high Page Ranks (PR) and ask if you can write a unique article in return for a link(s) to your site.
Well, I’m afraid I have reached my 1500 words already. There never seems to be enough hours in a day or space on a page. Although I have left Blog Posting for last, it is, in fact, one of the most popular ways that SEOs are using to get links at this point in time (October 2013).
I would advise though, not to get stuck onto just one way of building links because that would not create a natural looking link profile and therefore risks a penalty from the search engines. I would also have a read of the following article: http://www.krisroadruck.com/rants/whitehat-seo-is-a-joke