Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google SEO Tips

If you’ve ever worked on a website, you’ve probably stumbled across the term SEO. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the “science” (some might say art form) of writing the text and metadata tags of a website so that search engines like Google will see the site as an authority on whatever subject it covers. It is then listed higher in the list of search results for the subject. There are various ways people use to make their websites as SEO friendly as possible, and some work better than others. Below are some tips for making your website more Google SEO friendly so that it ends up listed on page one rather than page one hundred.

Practical Google SEO Tips That Work
- Don’t forget the meta tags! Many people forget to include keywords in their meta data because it’s not an obvious thing. When webpage’s were constructed in text editors, all the tags and behind the scenes information had to be entered. Now, however, people can make web pages in programs like Expression or Dreamweaver without ever seeing the code and it’s very easy to forget to enter keyword tags since you don’t ever see them on the actual webpage itself.

- Likewise, make certain to give each webpage a title (the text that appears on the top blue bar in Internet Explorer). Titles, like meta tags, may not contribute to the content on the page but are vital to search engine results.

- Another thing not to forget is to fill in those ALT tags on images. ALT tags contain the text that will appear on a page if your image doesn’t load for some reason, and they are yet another place you can stick in important keywords that describe your website and your content.

- Make sure your site is error-free. Sometimes, errors in XHTML, Flash, or other plug-ins can cause a search engine to misinterpret what your website is about.

- Write more content. A page with only a few sentences won’t be seen as informative by Google’s search software. These pages will be ranked lower than pages with a higher word count. What is considered the optimal word count varies from person to person. Some say you need only around 500 words of text on a page while others claim it’s better to have upwards of 3,000 or so. The more words you have, the likelier you’ll perfectly match a Google query. However, if you find yourself adding in filler content just to make longer pages, you may want to consider how a real person will react to the text. People rarely want to read redundant information.

- Be aware of how many times you use your keywords in the text. Ideally, you want each of your keywords to appear four or five times on a page, but it depends on how long your pages are. If you have 500 words of text, you may not be able to work in all of your keywords five times. On the other hand, if you have 3,000 words, you can probably use keywords eight to ten times and still have natural sounding sentences. Be careful here: if your keyword density is too low, Google won’t pick up on the word as a keyword, but if it’s too high, Google may decide your page is full of SEO spam and penalize it accordingly.

- Use your keywords at least once in the first few sentences of your page. The closer a keyword is to the top of a webpage, the more significant Google sees it.
Google SEO robots like to see bigger websites. Generally, they believe that a site with more pages has more information and should be ranked higher. Likewise, sites that grow and expand are more favorably ranked over those that never add new pages or content.

- Focus on your main page(homepage) first. This is the page that search engines look at the most, so you want it to contain all of your keywords.

- Google’s search programs can’t read images. This means if you use keywords in buttons or on banners at the top of your page, they will have no effect on the page’s rank. If you use images for your navigation, try to add in actual text links on your page as well. At the very least, make certain you add image ALT text to the buttons and banners.

- Avoid the word “click“. Many spam pages, especially ones that are trying to sell products or get people to join pyramid schemes, use the word “click” excessively. Google tends to rank pages that include this word lower since they are more often than not spam.

- Include descriptive text in your links. If you’re linking to a site, use the site title or a description of it in the anchor link text instead of saying “click here” (plus, this helps you avoid that dirty C-word!).

- Google ranks words in italics, bold, or that are underlined as being more important. Be sure to bold a few keywords here and there on your site. Don’t do this to every keyword, though. Besides looking very odd to humans on your site, search engines will see too much of this as suspicious.

- When it comes to keyword phrases, Google does not notice punctuation. This means that “dog beds” and “dog: beds” are actually seen as the same. Taking advantage of this lets you work in keyword phrases in ways that don’t seem as repetitive.

- Avoid frames if possible. Pages that appear inside frames don’t contain their own title, and often they don’t have links to the other pages on your site since the links are on the frame. Google likes to see links and titles on each page.

- If your page isn’t going to be updated often, consider adding a blog to it. As stated earlier, Google ranks pages that add new content higher than pages that haven’t changed for three years. If your website isn’t going to need new content on a regular basis, add a blog. You can then blog about business specials, conferences you’ve attended recently, review new products related to your site, and more.

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