10 Basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Techniques to Improve Your Website Rankings

There are so many websites still not being developed with the fundamental and necessary techniques that can dramatically increase their search engine rankings. Most of them are easy to implement. So I thought I would write a brief article on what I consider the top 10 best and fundamental techniques to try to improve search engine rankings. It is by no means a complete solution, and may or not work for you, but can be considered the bare minimum necessary techniques you should implement.

1. Browser Title (Title Tag)

The Browser Title (Title Tag) is one of the most important aspects of optimising your site for search engines. The Title of the page is what appears in the results in Google and other Search Engine results pages.

When a user performs a keyword search, one of the considerations on where it appears in the results is this Browser Title. Having the keywords in the page title will increase the rankings of the site.

For example, searching for “Web Design Caerphilly” results in Amity Web Solutions coming high (usually top). Because these keywords are in the browser title for Amity Web Solutions website.

I see so many websites without an optimised title, and so many without a title at all! These websites are missing out on visitors and potential business.Yet it should be an easy solution to fix. If you can’t edit your Title then I would question your CMS system or web developer capabilities. This is a fundamental requirement of an optimised site.

Most content management systems these days allow the browser Title to be inserted for each page. If it doesn’t then you need a new content manager. If you don’t have a content manager get in touch with your web developer to insert keywords for each page Title. A few key rules are:-

  • Use no more than approx. 70 characters (9 to 12 words)
  • Don’t repeat keywords too many times (keyword spamming)
  • Make the title human readable and meaningful whilst including the keywords
  • If you market locally, then use local based keywords such as your town or city – it is much easier to get ranked on a local search than nationally
  • Have a different Title for each page

2. META Description

Same as the META Title, the META Description is also very important. The Description summarises what the web page is about and is also used for keyword search results. Image 2 also shows the META Description in Google search results. A few key rules are:-

  • Use no more than approx. 150 to 160 characters
  • Don’t repeat keywords too many times (keyword spamming)
  • Make the description human readable and meaningful whilst including the keywords
  • If you market locally, then use local based keywords such as your town or city – it is much easier to get ranked on a local search than nationally
  • Have a different Description for each page

3. Keywords in Content

Content is what people read after all and contains the information people are after, and search engines know this. So make sure your keywords for products and services plus target market locations are in the content.

Your Home Page is more important than any other for this. So make sure you have plenty of indexable, keyword rich content on your home page. Use approximately 3% to 7% ratio of keywords to content, i.e. for every 100 words there should be a keyword mentioned 3 to 7 times. To be safe go with 4 or 5.

There are so many other factors than can improve content and increase your rankings such as good coding practices, image ALT tags, usage of Headings (H1, H2 etc.) that we shall save that for another blog.

4. Regular New Content (e.g. Latest News/Case Studies/Portfolio/Testimonials)

What’s the best way to keep adding these keywords to content? Adding it as new pages. Google and other search engines like new and updated content so add new pages often. To do this you can have a page summarising either Latest News, Case Studies, Testimonials or Portfolios which you add to regularly.

In my opinion Latest News is the best, you can add all sorts to it. The effectiveness of this can be demonstrated by my own site. Searching Google for just “4networking” shows my website quite high (page 1 of google, near the middle at time of writing – note: you may see different results based on location) which is very good considering I am not 4Networking itself. I recently joined 4Networking (a great business networking organisation) and added this information as a Latest News page on my site summarising how great an organisation it is. This page therefore shows for this keyword increasing the visibility of my business website.

5. Google Local Business Centre

In Image 1 above, you can see a picture of a map, indicating where Amity Web Solutions is. This is fed from Google Local Business Center,  a free service to add your business on Google Maps. Many times this map comes at the top or near the top, so even if your website is not listed in search results, it could appear here. So obviously an important listing to have.

6. Google/Yahoo Sitemap

This is a specially formatted (XML) page that you can send to Google, Yahoo and other search engines telling them what pages you have on your site. It makes the search engines job at finding the pages on your site easier. Search engines state it wont affect rankings, but as soon as I listed mine my rankings went up. Having one can do no harm, so can only be a positive thing to have.

7. Search Engine Friendly URLs

Content Managers and dynamic websites use dynamic URLs to show pages.A typical URL would be something like “index.php?option=com_content&id=3&Itemid=4” on the end of the domain name. This gives no information on what the page is about. So having keywords in this URL, i.e.  “web-design.html ” or “about-us.html” should also help increase the rankings of the site. Even if you don’t see any change, having a link to this page is better for humans to read and click on that the one that gives no information on what it’s about.

8. Increase Backlinks

One of Googles  main ranking factors is “how many sites link to yours”. The more links to your site, the better Google thinks your site is. A sort of recommendation from other websites. The better ranked those websites are the better Google thinks yours is again. So add links to your website onto other websites such as forums and directories. You could even ask your customers or suppliers to link exchanges.

9. Forum Profile and Signature Links

Following on from above, Forums are a great way to advertise the site. Most will have a profile page you add a link to your website in (which Google may find) and some even allow it to go in the signature of the forum post so readers will see it. Find forums you can actively participate in (never use them spam you may get banned), register and join the conversations. Ask or answer questions to become part of the forum community and advertise your profile or signature link.

10. Refine and Improve Your Keywords

Knowing what keywords to use is a hard one. Having a competitive keyword will reduce your chances due to everyone else using it (but have many people searching for it). Finding a niche keyword will increase your chances (but lower the amount of people searching for it). Google have an excellent couple of free tool you can use to review and suggest the keywords you use: Google Keyword Search Tool and Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

How to Monitor Your Success?

So how do yo know if the above methods have been a success? Before you do any of the above, make sure you have installed and configured Google Analytics. A very powerful, free, statistics tool that shows you how many visitors you have had, where they came from, what keywords the used and a lot more. You can then monitor your changes and your visitor statistics on an ongoing basis and refine your methods to optimise the site. Also checkout Google Webmaster Central, there are a few more tools to help you analyse your site. Yahoo and other search engines may also provide similar free tools to help you optimise your site.