In my experience the majority of web agencies and developers still do not take search seriously enough. Most businesses have very simple requests, “How do I show up for keyword for people in the area”, “How do I show up higher than my competitor on searches”, and “How do people find my site”. The web is an economy and driving consumers to business on the internet is a highly desired skill set. Consistently controlling the results of Google will be impossible and there is always room for improvement for every site.
Every developer will grow their own set of tools, but the core components are available for free. Google offers analytics to take control of your traffic performance, sources, and patterns. There is also Adwords Keyword Tool, which will help you target search phrases, volume, and competition. Based on these factors and a list of similar keywords you will be able to identify good opportunities to compete for relevant traffic. There is also the Webmaster guidelines published by Google that will give you a general best practice for search engines.
This process requires a lot of patience. It takes time for changes to take shape and results are delivered. When making changes to any site or even designing a new site with SEO built in, user traffic is not going to happen right away. Seeing the results come in will trigger an OCD to check Analytics and forever make improvements and indentify new markets and opportunities. The vast majority of web sites are there for user consumption. SEO became big business when a lot of people all at once figured out that users translated to consumers.
Google is the search leader, therefore they offer the highest return. They control the flow of traffic on the internet. Luckily, they also published a search engine optimization starter guide in pdf format! This is the 101 of SEO and it will be pointless to try to chase down every obscure reference and tip on the countless SEO sites out there when the components to their content analysis is available all in one place. The document is a general overview but offers some very important best practice rules that are easy to implement:
– Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.
– Create unique title tags for each page
– Use brief, but descriptive titles (limit of 66 characters or 12 keywords)
– Accurately summarize the page’s content
– Use unique descriptions for each page
– Avoid filling the description with only keywords
– Avoid copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag
– Use words in URLs
– Create a simple directory structure
– Provide one version of a URL to reach a document
– Many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better)
– Create a naturally flowing hierarchy
– Use mostly text for navigation
– Use “breadcrumb” navigation
– Put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file
– Consider what happens when a user removes part of your URL
– Have a useful 404 page
Anchor Text (Links)
– Choose descriptive text
– Write concise text
– Format links so they’re easy to spot
– There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with
and the least important being
– Imagine you’re writing an outline
– Use headings sparingly across the page
– Avoid using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure
– Avoid excessively using heading tags throughout the page
Other Confirmed Ranking Factors
– Keyword in URL
– Keyword in Domain name
– Freshness of Pages
– Freshness – Amount of Content Change
– Freshness of Links
– Site Age
– Anchor text of inbound link
– Hilltop Algorithm
– Domain Registration Time
There is a lot of helpful content in the document but it does not go deep into the inner mechanics like other sites attempt to do. There are several sites out there that try to go beyond what has been published and into the details for generating traffic, you would just need to google “Google Ranking Factors“. A lot of information came from when google released US Patent Application #20050071741.
Use the above as a baseline of the steps to get your site more traffic. This is a topic that is constantly being updated as search improves and requires a lot of time and research to do efficiently. Overhauling existing projects to meet the standards of today’s crawlers is tedious, boring, and offers no immediate results. It has been something I avoided in the past, but for a web site to stay competitive and more importantly, be seen it has to be found. I find having some good rules in place for how to deal with SEO makes new projects going forward much easier to deal with.