There are books, blogs, and even conferences devoted to SEO, however you should be thinking about SEO in the simplest of terms. Don’t get too caught up in the hype and theories and trying to figure out how to manipulate Google’s algorithm because you’ll drive yourself crazy and that’s no fun, or worse, you may end up getting your site dropped from the search results if you go too far.
For your website, focus on the following SEO best practices as a guide:
Your title tags on each page should contain the primary keyword/phrase that best captures the “theme” for that page, followed by your brand. For instance, if your app helps designers create invoices, the title tag for your homepage could be: “Simple invoices for designers – MyInvoices.com”, where “invoices for designers” is your targeted term/phrase. Your brand should follow the tagline. There have been numerous studies that track a visitor’s eyes across search results and as a user scans the page they see more (left-to-right) of the top results and only look at the left most portion of the search results as they scan down to the fifth to sixth ranked site. So it’s key to have your targeted keyword/phrase to the left of your branded term. In addition, Google will bold the searched keyword/phrase within the search result’s title (ie: your title tag), which will increase the number of clicks for your organic listing.
This is where I see a number of people missing a great opportunity. Your meta description is what someone sees when viewing the organic search results across the major search engines and has a direct impact on whether they click your listing. Take advantage of this space and keep it short and to the point, but don’t be afraid to include a call-to-action within the meta-description for each page of your site. In addition, be sure to include your keyword within the meta description as well. Like your meta title, Google will bold any occurrences of the searched keyword/phrase within your meta description as well, grabbing the eye of searchers and increasing clicks.
Keyword(s) within URLs:
It’s also a great idea to include the targeted keyword/phrase for a page within the URL. For example, if you’re targeting “top designers”, an ideal URL for the page you’re targeting for this term could be www.mydesignsite.com/top-designers.
We all understand the importance of reputable sites linking to ours, and how that can help our reputation within the major search engines. In terms of increasing the number of links back to your website, there are various tactics to accomplish this whether it’s exchanging links or including links back to your site within your press releases.
Focus on the quality of your content, first and foremost and that will naturally increase the number of people who link to your website. If what you build is quality, other sites will happily link to yours. You can always follow up with someone who has linked to your website and ask them to modify the anchor text (the text that is hyperlinked). By editing this text to contain the targeted keyword/phrase, this can help your site rank higher for the targeted keyword/phrase.
Another best practice focuses on the links within your site that link to other internal pages. For instance, if you’re linking the anchor text of an article to another page on your site, it’s a best practice to include the targeted keyword/phrase within the anchored text for the page the user will taken to after clicking.
Google looks at the percentage of time the targeted keyword/phrase appears on a page in relation to other copy on the same page. Do not try to manipulate the search engines by stuffing a keyword into the copy of a page. We mention keyword density because it’s something you should pay attention to and in combination with other best practices it holds value but not something you should focus on heavily in an attempt to manipulate search results. Write the copy for your pages as you would normally and use a keyword density tool such as http://www.googlerankings.com/ultimate_seo_tool.php to double check the density of the keyword/phrase for a given page. There are a number of theories on optimum keyword density, but it’s recommended at around 2% for each page for a targeted keyword.
Using a tool such as XML-Sitemaps, set up a sitemap for your website and add it within Google’s Webmaster tools and within Bing’s Webmaster tools. This helps tremendously in getting your content indexed quickly.
As we mentioned above, Google and Bing offer Webmaster tools. If you haven’t signed up, be sure to get an account and add your website to each. Google provides great resources within their Webmaster tools that gives you additional insight into the performance of your website. For example, you can view a list of pages that are resulting in 404 errors and you can see any external URLs that link to pages on your site that have 404 errors. This is just one example of the key features you’ll have access to within Webmaster tools. It’s a great tool and can give you a lot of insight as you’re optimizing your website, from both an SEO point of view and in terms of usability.
Remember, these are best practices and things you should keep in mind as you’re designing, developing, and writing copy for your website, but never put these ahead of a visitor’s experience. Your visitor/user should always come first when designing your website.