"It's the holy grail of the digital world but generating and keeping a top spot on the search engines is no mean feat.
The best search engine optimisation (SEO) results are achieved by building in techniques across many different areas. The following top tips will provide a quick snapshot introduction:
Build SEO into the planning stage of your website development. Good search engine optimisation has to be built into the website from the word go and so should be a pinnacle part of your agency selection process.
The XHTML language that forms your website needs to be clean and tidy. Search engines frown on bad code. They can smell it a mile away so it is not worth the risk. Hand written code will always perform best and the current standard is strict XHTML.
Clever keyword research will ensure that you are building in the words people are searching for rather than what you 'think' they are searching for. There are a number of tools available such as Wordtracker that show you the popularity of particular search terms as well as the number of other pages on the web using the same words. The 'key' is to use words that are popular but less
Once you have selected a number of keywords for each page, it is then important to build these into the structure of the site as much as possible. Each page should feature the specific keywords within the XHMTL code such as page title, meta tags, keyword tags, page descriptions, etc. Keywords should also be used within the link url's (for example, www.yourwebsite.co.uk/keyword).
Content is one of the most important areas in search engine optimisation and plays a big part in keeping Google and the other big search engine players happy. Your keyword research will come in extra handy here - ensuring your copy on your website includes a good spattering of search terms relative to that page will do you wonders. Making sure some of the keywords are being used as internal links around your site as well as on your navigation will also win you top brownie points.
If your website is brand new then you will need to let the search engines know that it exists. There are a number of ways you can 'submit a website' for free such as through Google, Yahoo, AltaVista, etc.
The more incoming links from other websites you have coming into your site, the more important the search engines will think your site is, so a link building strategy is vital.
However, beware. Don't be fooled by companies claiming they can generate you large volumes of incoming links as search engines frown on this cheating. For the best results, find other websites that are related to yours in some way. Why would you want an incoming link to your shoe retail website from a construction company's website? Google and the other search engines will find that a little fishy.
Links from other websites with high Google PageRank's (how important Google thinks your site is) are also important. Lots of links in from sites with PageRank 0's will not be good. To view your website PageRank, visit Google Toolbar and download the toolbar.
The best way to generate incoming links is to ask your suppliers and customers for links back from their websites, submitting your website to related site directories, generating online PR and web articles, etc.
Finally, SEO is an ongoing job. The initial work is to generate a top ranking on the main search engines, but more importantly, it is keeping that position once you are there. Search engines like websites that are updated on a regular basis as they can see the content is fresh. Keyword analysis ensures you are staying on top of the best keywords and link building is an area that a monthly drip feed of links can do wonders for your search engine ranking.
Once you have followed all of the tips to successful search engine optimisation, it can take a few months for the search engines to register any changes. The use of paid for search marketing such as sponsored links (Pay Per Click - PPC) will mean you can be visible on the top pages of the search engines until your natural search engine optimisation starts to kick in. PPC can also help with your natural search engine listings by providing links on the main search engines back to your website.
Overall, I cannot stress the importance of planning enough - so many companies have their website designed and developed and then move on to look at their search engine optimisation. This is a costly approach both in time and money. For the best success, SEO has got to be at the heart of your website build right from the start.
To ensure you get your website off to the right start in the search engine optimisation stakes or you would like us to carry out an assessment of your site optimisation, please get in touch.