This article uses Google as an example when discussing search engine ranking. But whatever techniques are successful in improving your placement or ranking in a Google search result list will also work with most other search engines.

Having a great website is a good method of promoting your business not only to existing clients but also to new clients and even new markets. But putting your website out there is only part of the process. You also need to ensure that people will find it. Therefore you need to promote the existence of your site through as many channels as possible and although not the only one, certainly one of the more important ones is through search engines.

Attracting as much traffic to your site as possible may seem like the answer but it is the quality of that traffic that is also important. Your site needs to satisfy the needs of the user and therefore be valuable at some level to achieve any sort of success. For example, if you sell wheels then you want someone interested in wheels to find your website but it may be of limited value if what they really want is a whole car.

Google uses a very complex algorithm that takes into account more than 200 “signals” to try and return the most useful and relevant results to a search. With billions of pages to choose from Google is constantly refining this algorithm in an effort to ensure the results reflect the best outcome for the searcher and are not indicative of the tricks constantly tried by search engine spammers to return results in their favour. In fact trying to fudge the results will most likely find your site demoted or excluded altogether from results.

Despite what some authors say, content is king when it comes to search engine placement. While other methods such as good use of keywords and terminology will help produce favourable results, well written content will ultimately encompass those techniques without the need to address them individually. So, high quality sites are what Google is looking to return in its results and high quality sites contain original content, high in information value that is authoritative, factual and relevant for the user.

Let’s look at the sorts of things you should and shouldn’t do when preparing a website that will rank well in search results..

Tips For Obtaining High Rankings

  • Compile a list of keywords and terminology that are uniquely associated to your business/website prior to writing your copy.
  • Think like your target market – what terms will they use (correct and incorrect) when searching for the goods or services you sell? Keep in mind that the results returned are a function of the terms used in the search.
  • Use those keywords in a responsible and logical manner in your page titles.
  • Use those keywords judicially while writing content for your pages. Don’t bold or capitalize every keyword or term but do use them in headings where it is logical to do so. To be effective the copy needs to be well worded and easy to read so that it makes sense to humans – not like it was written for search engines. If the people visiting your website think it is informative, so will the search engines.
  • Ensure keywords are included in image descriptions where applicable.
  • Provide value for your audience, not just a list of products and their prices. Give them something for free, whether that is technical or usage advice, or tips and suggestions on how to obtain more from what you offer. Non-proprietary research results, commentary and analysis will add a reason for people to visit your website and make it valuable in the eyes of the search engines.
  • Provide as many incoming (as well as outgoing) links as possible to relevant high quality websites i.e. other websites that already rank highly. The key here is “relevant”. Numerous links to sites that do not have some relation to the material on your site will work against you and not for you, so if it is not relevant leave it out.
  • Make maximum use of brand names; regardless of whether they are yours or those of your suppliers. Include these brand names in your text, links and image descriptions where applicable.
  • Keep content current and provide new material regularly. Use of blogs and news/announcements sections can provide a reason for return traffic as well as showing that your site is alive and kicking.

Things Not To Do

  • There is really only one thing that you should avoid and that is trying to trick the search engines, because even if it works for a short period (which it probably won’t because someone has already tried it) it will eventually be picked up in an algorithm update and you may be penalised or denoted as a result.

Remember, ranking highly in a search result is an ongoing process that takes time, effort and patience; it doesn’t happen instantly and won’t continue to happen without constant attention, i.e. revision and tweaking, but it will pay benefits.

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