Monthly Archives: November 2012

Your Basic SEO Guide

On Page SEO : Your Basic SEO Guide for Better Results

If you want your site to rank higher in search engines so that you can gain free organic search traffic, this is the guide for you. This guide is a basic best practice guide to On-Page-SEO; the 20% that makes the 80% difference. Whether you’re a relative SEO novice or have some experience already, this guide should prove extremely useful in gaining an insight in to the subject. By following these steps you’ll be able to ensure you’re on your way to having a well optimised and effective website. This will give your Off-Page-SEO link building campaign the best opportunity to boost your site’s online marketing potential.

The fundamentals:

  • The largest search engine for online traffic is Google, with around 70% of the market share.
  • Optimising a website for Google will naturally also help your site to rank in other websites such as Yahoo, Bing and other search engines, it is evident however that Google should be your first priority.
  • Search engines rank Pages not Sites – although the overall authority of a site has an influence on whether or not the page will rank.
  • ONE web page should target ONE keyword at a time. It’s important not to fall in to the trap of trying to optimise a singular page for numerous keywords, particularly if these keywords are not closely related.
  • Targeting numerous keywords at a time will not act as an effective method and is more likely to discourage the search engine to rank your site highly.
  • One and two word keyphrases usually have more potential traffic – but are much more competitive, and less targeted.
  • Web pages are made up of both text and images. Search engines are more likely to focus on text, although users are more likely to enjoy images and graphics. The secret is to appeal to both simultaneously.

Keyword research :

The first stage in any SEO campaign should ideally be keyword research. This may seem like an obvious way to start, surprisingly many enterprises skip or rush this critical stage of the process and lose out as a result.

 

There are various keyword research techniques that can be used to compile data to help you identify and assess potential target keywords in order to make an informed and strategically sound decision on which keywords you are going to target.

 

The 3 key factors in keyword selection are:

Search volume– the higher the volume of searches the more traffic it will generate.

The quality and relevance of the keyword– It is essential to consider the quality and relevance of potential keywords, and also the commercial intention of surfers searching using these keywords.

Competition– keywords should have an adequate level of competition.

 

Here are some Recommended Tools –

Free tool → Google Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/keywordtool)

Paid tool → Wordtracker.com (http://www.wordtracker.com)

Page Title Optimisation :

You should add a customised page title (AKA ‘meta title’) to each individual page of your website, based onyour chosen target keyword for that particular page. The title of the page has relevance and must be customised to please both users and search engines.

  • For users, it must be informative as well as attractive to maximise the Click Through Rate (AKA CTR).
  • For search engines, it needs to be keyword optimised so that it’s evident what the page is about and therefore what the page should be ranking for.

Page title rules and tips –

  • Must be a maximum 66 characters including spaces. Exceeding this character limit means GoogleBot will still read the meta title, but it will not display it all in the search results, in other words it will be cut short.
  • It is advisable that you front load the page title with your target keyword or phrase – i.e. start your page title with your target keyword.
  • You can start each word in the page title with capital letters if you like, to make it stand out more for example, “This Page Title Starts With Caps”.
  • You can capitalise the keyword to make it stand out eg. TARGET KEYWORD | In Caps. However capitalising every word will be recognised as an attempt to Spam.
  • Don’t keyword stuff or over-optimise the page title. If your target keyword is a single word then include the keyword twice in the title, if it is a two or more word key-phrase then it is advisable to only include it once.

 

Here are some Recommended Tools – either Free of charge or at a cost.

Free → (1) SEO Quake Firefox Browser Add On (http://www.seoquake.com) and (2) Character Count Tool – does what it says on the tin! (http://www.charactercounttool.com)

Paid → SEO Moz (http://www.seomoz.org)

Page Description Optimisation :

You should add a customised page description (the ‘meta description’) to each page of your website, based on your chosen target keyword for that page. A good page meta description should be optimised to please both users and search engines.

  • For users, it must be informative and enticing to maximise the CTR or Click Through Rate.
  • For search engines, it needs to be keyword customised so that it is obvious what the page is about and therefore the reason the page should rank for.

Page description rules and tips –

  • Max 150 characters including spaces. If you exceed this character limit, the GoogleBot will still read the meta description, but it will not display it all in the search results (it will be cut off short).
  • It is recommended that you front load the page description with your target keyword/phrase – i.e. start your page description with your target keyword for instance. “My Target Keyword is Front Loaded in my Description. This is Because it Helps my Site to Rank Higher in Search Engines when I Front Load my Target Keyword!”
  • You can start each word in the page description with capital letters if you wish, to make it stand out more for instance, My Target Keyword is Front Loaded and I Have also Capitalised my Page Description, Except for Smaller Words Such as ‘is’, ‘and’, ‘also’ and ‘as’.
  • Do not keyword stuff or over-optimise the page description. If your target keyword is a single word then include the keyword up to 3 times in the description, if it is a two or more word key-phrase then only include it twice

Here are some tools we recommend –

Free → (1) SEO Quake Firefox Browser Add On (http://www.seoquake.com) and (2) Character Count Tool – does what it says on the tin! (http://www.charactercounttool.com)

Paid → SEO Moz (http://www.seomoz.org)

 

The Importance of TEXT Content in Search Engine Optimisation:

Search engines rely on TEXT content, and as a result cannot read images (except for image ALT tags, which should be optimised – see below).

Although the optimal number of words you should include in the body text content of each web page can vary depending on the theme and target keywords, in general you should always have a minimum 300 words of text in the body content of each page, in most instances it is advisable to aim for between 500 to 750 words.

It is important, however, to keep the text content relevant and interesting – i.e. not just text for the sake of text!

  • TIP : It’s a good idea to analyse sites that are ranked in the top 3 for the target keyword or phrase you wish to rank your page for, and discover how many words of text (on average) they have. This will act as a suitable benchmark for your website.

 

Recommended Tools –

Free → SEO Quake Firefox Browser Add On (http://www.seoquake.com)

Paid → Seo Moz (http://www.seomoz.org)

Unique Content and its value:

NEVER copy text content, either from a 3rd party website or from another page of your own website, Text content should always be unique.

Search engines actively seek duplicate content, and therefore can penalise a site which does not contain an abundance of content that is both relevant, informative and wholly unique.

If this was how the web was based that is, consisting of duplicated content as opposed to new and unique content, the value of information on the web would be significantly decreased.

Recommended Tools –

Free →

Paid → Copyscape (http://www.copyscape.com)

Target Keyword Density:

Search engines assess how many times the target keyword or phrase is included in the body of the page as a signal of the page’s relevance. Too many keywords repeating can seem unnatural and therefore can be perceived as spam, but too few and the page lacks keyword relevance.

In general, it is advisable to aim for a target keyword/phrase density of between 2% to 4% but should still ensure that the text is natural, grammatically correct and of excellent quality.

Writing poor quality content solely in order to appeal to keyword searches will likely hinder your website, although maintaining an adequate level of keyword density is necessary.

Recommended Tools :

Free → (1) SEO Quake Firefox Browser Add On (http://www.seoquake.com) and (2) Wordle, a great visual representation of keyword density/relevancy of a web page (http://www.wordle.net) – this is a useful tool, it illustrates visually how a search engine will perceive your page and (3) the appropriately named ‘Keyword Density’ (http://www.keyworddensity.com/).

Paid → n/a

Keyword Proximity :

It has been demonstrated that the proximity of the relevant keyword or phrase within the body of your text content can have a positive effect on the search engine ranking. Try to include your target keyword/phrase at the start and also at the end of the body of the text content (i.e. first and last sentence/paragraph).

Heading Tags :

Utilising target keyword rich heading tags in your body text content on each page is a good idea. Ideally your first heading tag on the page is a <h1>. Each heading tag should be ordered <h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc. Heading tags with solid structure should create a good foundation for your page, almost like a logical table of contents. For example, <h2> is a subhead of <h1>.

It is possible to use headings as a way to signal page relevancy by including your target keyword/phrase whenever possible. This is necessary, but you should always avoid doing too much.

Heading tags rules and tips overview –

  • Never have more than one <h1> heading tag on a page!
  • Try to order heading tags in a logical order down the page. i.e. Don’t position an <h2> tag before/above an <h1>.
  • Include your target keyword/phrase in heading tags, particularly the main <h1> heading tag, and <h2> tags.

 

Here are some tools we recommend –

Free → SEO Site Checkup (http://www.seositecheckup.com/h1_h2_heading_status.php)

Paid → SEO Moz (http://www.seomoz.org)

Bold / Emphasis of First Instance of Keyword :

It has been shown that emphasis of the first instance of the target keyword on a web page can have a benefical effect on your search engine ranking. You can do this by ‘bolding’ a keyword.

From a search engine’s perspective, bolded words and phrases have more significance and are a signal of page’s relevance.

Note: It’s important to avoid bolding a keyword or a phrase numerous times on any page or this could be perceived as spam to search engines and as a result your rank will likely be demoted.

Recommended Tools –

Free →

Paid → SEO Moz (http://www.seomoz.org)

Image ALT Tags :

You can add a description ‘tag’ to any image, this is primarily used by vision impaired web users who use screen reader software. Screen reader software can ‘read’ image ALT tags, but cannot ‘read’ an image which doesn’t have ALT tags – this illustrates the importance of ALT tags as far as accessibility is concerned. ALT attributes are necessary for a page to validate as W3C compliant – and this in itself factor in a search engine’s ranking system.

Image ALT tags are descriptive – but should also include your target keyword/phrase in the ALT tag description as this can help to align and optimise the images present on the page.

Ensuring No Spam tactics! :

You should ensure your On Page SEO strategy is in line with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. You should familiarise yourself with what Google accepts (and doesn’t) for SEO.

 

Hopefully this guide has been useful, and especially a functional guide to the key elements of On-Page-SEO, a guide you can follow utilise on website immediately!

 

Use these On-Page-SEO techniques in accordance with a solid Off-Page-SEO link building strategy, if implemented correctly you will start to see your organic search traffic go through the roof!