Quick Do’s and Don’ts for search engine rankings
It is easy to get lost in all the factors that help and/or hinder your website rankings in search engines such as Google. I have compiled a quick list of things you should and shouldn’t do that will affect how your site ranks.
Please note that some points include links to articles that provide more detail about that particular subject and further links will be added when new articles are published.
- Unique content
One of the biggest factors for search engine rankings is ‘unique content’. This means any pages or articles that you put on your website must not be copied from somewhere else. Search engines will know you just copy and pasted content from another website and will actually penalise you for this. You should also author your content to prevent other websites from copying and claiming ownership it.
- Write content for the user
You need to make sure you write your content for human beings first and then worry about search engines later, if at all. If the content doesn’t benefit the user they will click away, which will hurt your rankings.
- Add new content all the time
Search engines love new and ‘hot’ content on your website, so having a blog and regularly writing engaging articles on popular topics (related to your industry) will help big time.
- Engage in social media
Use social media to promote articles of interest. Allowing users to click through to your content, ‘like’ it and share it with their friends creates ‘crowd validation’ and shows search engines that real people are finding your content interesting and useful.
- Have relavent ‘page titles’ and ‘page descriptions’
Page titles are the snippet of text that appear on the top of the web browser for each page on your website, while the description is a short sentance that will appear in the code only. This text also appears on the search engine listings themselves, so keep these short and relevant to what’s on the page.
- Use ‘page headings’ where appropriate
This is where you need to make sure you have a good web developer. Headings are used to structure content, so ‘Heading 1’ would be the main title of the page, ‘Heading 2’ would be sub section of text and so on. This can help search engines determine what is most important.
- Have a fast loading website
Once again this is up to the web developer. You can use Google’s PageSpeed tool to check this, but generally you don’t a lot of large images on your site or heaps of scripting libraries.
- Use keywords in page URL’s
This doesn’t matter as much as it used to, however this just means that you can have the page title or certain words relating to the page within the url. Again this is up to your web developer. So instead of http://www.digitaldevelopments.com.au/news/?postid=1 it would be something like http://www.digitaldevelopments.com.au/news/quick-dos-and-donts-for-search-engine-rankings
- Quality links from other websites
‘Backlinks’ aren’t what they used to be. No longer can you just go around spamming them on as many different sites as possible. These days they need to be organic (meaning the only in places that are logical for the user to click on them, so not just in the footer of every page) and on websites that are popular with a good reputation.
- Have an XML Sitemap
A sitemap is a good tool to have on your website so search engines can quickly and easily find all of the pages on your website and any content you have updated. Talk to your web developer about this one.
- Thin content
Don’t have pages or articles that have only a few lines of text. Not only is there not much content for search engines to find, most likely users will quickly ‘bounce’ away from the page which can hurt your rankings.
- Keyword stuffing
As mentioned above, pages need to be written for users, so don’t overuse keywords within your pages or articles. Search engines will know you are trying to deceive it.
- Hidden keywords and content
Search engines know if you are adding certain sections into your website that are intended for search rankings only and hiding them from regular visitors.
- Overuse of ads
Advertising can be lucrative, so if they are making you money don’t remove them, however having a lot of them on a single page won’t help your search engine rankings.
- Purchase spam links
This was briefly mentioned above. Recently search engines, Google in particular, have cracked down on spammy, paid links to websites. Backlinks with the following may actually hurt your rankings:
- From untrusted sites.
- Stuffed with keywords or lots of links with the same words.
- Site wide (meaning they are on a lot/if not all pages on a particular website).
- From sites that are relating to a different industry/subject.
- Pages with similar content
Search engines love a lot of different pages on your website, but don’t try and cheat the system with pages that have the same text but a few keywords changed here or there.
What exactly is SEO?
Why a blog is important for SEO
Why is my website not on Google?