Before we get into this ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) business, how does Google actually work?
If you’re familiar with how Google works, you can safely jump to the 5 tips.
How does Google build its list of search results?
Google sends out a ‘bot’, or ‘spider’ (an automated computer script) that crawls over websites on the internet and takes a copy of all of the text. This is called 'indexing'. It's the same principle as an index at the back of a book.
When reading a book, you look in the back and find the index ~ which has a huge list of keywords.
You then look at the corresponding page the keyword is located on and you read the page.
Google works the same way. So when you search for a keyword or phrase in Google, it looks through its index of the web and gives you a list of pages that word or phrase appears on.
When you search in Google you're not searching every website on the internet ~ only the sites that Google has indexed.
You may not know this, but there is close to a billion websites on the web. Roughly 20 million websites were created last year alone!
That’s a lot of new websites for Google to read ~ and this doesn’t include all the newly added pages from existing sites.
So that’s indexing.
How how does Google rank the millions of websites?
Google has a ranking system called PageRank. It’s a top secret algorithm that determines the relative importance of a website. But that's a slightly different (more complicated) story for another day. Let us know if you'd like to schedule some time to go over the specifics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your website.
5 SEO tips that you can use today
Mention keywords where they matter most
Put yourself in your reader’s position. What words would you use to search for the content you’re providing?
We highly recommend that you use the primary keyword phrase at least once in your page's title; and ideally, as close to the start of the title tag as possible. If you’re not sure what the ‘title tag’ is, just try to use your keywords in the title of your page or blog post.
These days, Google and other search engines are pretty advanced and know when you’re trying to ‘game’ the system. When using a target keyword in the body of your content, make language flow naturally, make it useful and make it relevant.
Use keywords in your images
Don’t forget to rename your images before you upload them. Help Google know what your images are about.
Be descriptive and obvious with the naming of your images. ‘girl-in-red-jacket-book-cover.jpg’ is a good example.
If you can, use the ‘alt tag’, and describe the image you’re using, e.g. ‘Girl in Red Jacket Book Cover’.
Link to other websites with relevant content and have them link to you
You can do this by adding a blogroll or link list. Another good idea is having a resources page on your site.
Don’t over do it as you don’t want to drive visitors away. But when people click your links, this tells search engines you are a trusted authority on the topic ~ and this will increase your ranking.
Another way to send positive signals to search engines is the use of internal linking. Google will rank your page better if it requires less clicks to get to your valuable information.
Remove anything that slows your website down
Page load times are super important in keeping readers on your site as well as ranking in search engine results. Slow loading sites are a pain and Google will penalise your site for it.
Ensure your images are compressed for web, avoid music players, Flash graphics, and unnecessary plugins.
And most importantly...
Update your site frequently!
All search engines are actively looking for up-to-date, relevant and dynamic content. If your website hasn’t changed over the last year or so, don’t expect it to perform well in search engine result pages.
Google aside, think about how you feel when you visit an author’s blog and their ‘latest post’ is over a year old.
A great performing website requires you to invest time in it; set targets for it; and then measure the results.
‘Kaizen’: the practice of continuous improvement.