Top 5 SEO Tips for better rankings

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by Emily Mace

Blackboard with questionsFor your website to rank well in the search engines, getting the basics right is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

To help you with some of the things you need to consider, this list of 5 key tips should help you get your website on the right track.

1. Keywords

Choosing the right keywords on which to focus is the first step:

  • Don’t just focus on big ‘hero’ terms.  Whilst these are great and offer real value for your site, don’t put all your eggs in a one basket.  Longer-tail keywords (although less attractive from a pure marketing point of view) are likely to drive a high percentage of visitors to your site each month. Even if it’s just 10 visits per term, having five hundred well ranked keywords like this could lead to another 5,000 visits to your site. That’s not to be sniffed at.
  • Don’t forget the intention behind a keyword. Keywords focussed on information-gathering are great, but less likely to convert than more specific keywords. Again this is where the long tail should come into your strategy.
  • Don’t focus solely on keywords which contain jargon or terms which your internal staff use but your potential customers wouldn’t say. Talk to your sales team about how they sell your products; what words do they use when they are selling? It’s likely they’ve honed their sales technique to focus on the words which work best to attract and engage the customers to whom they are pitching.

2. Content

Content will help your visitors work out who you are, what you do and why to buy from you.  It can also help with your SEO.

Once you know the keywords on which you want to focus, review any content you have on your site and look at how you’re telling visitors that these terms cover what you do.  If you choose to work with a keyword because it offers a good search volume and visitor intent, but you don’t look to address this on your site, you aren’t promoting yourself as being relevant to that term. This means people won’t know that you offer a product or service, or can help them with a specific problem. Not having content to support your keywords also means you will find it harder to rank for them.

Create content which is focussed on what your customers will find useful, such as:

  • News items to keep people up to date on both the industry and your company.  This can help bring people and the search engines back to the site more often.
  • How-to guides and tutorials to help inform and educate your reader base.  This can also help to show the search engines you are an expert in your field.
  • Videos are a great way of building on your how-to guides as they can be used to demonstrate how a product works, or to display a series of tips for getting the most out of what you sell. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo as well as hosting them on your own site. Also, it’s worth including a transcript as well to increase how they are seen by the search engines.
  • Infographics are great for getting people to share your content and can be a useful way of visually displaying important stats for your customers.

3. On-page optimisation basics

Now you have a selection of keywords and have created content on your site, it’s time to get the on-page optimisation sorted.  Below are some of the core things on which to focus in order to make the most of your site:

  • Title tags. These should be unique, not a list of keywords and shouldn’t look spammy.
  • Meta Descriptions. Whilst not a ranking factor, these do help get people to click on your listing in the SERPs, so make sure they are focussed on attracting your customers. Again, these need to be unique.
  • H1 tags – specific to the content on the page. Make sure these aren’t connected to your title tag and that you have H1 tags which are relevant to the content on the page
  • Robots.txt file. This is important for making sure that the search engines are accessing the right pages of your site and not seeing things which you don’t want them to see. These can include any duplicate pages, PPC landing pages or database query strings which create similar listing pages for your product categories.
  • Canonical Tags. These can be used to ensure that your site is not displaying duplicate pages and that Google is indexing the correct page where duplicates are visible.
  • Author tags should be used where a page (such as news and blogs) have an author on them. They can be used to create a connection between the author and your site.  These also add an author image to the search results and can help to draw people into your site.

4 .Social Media and Link Building

Social is important for your link building and also helps to increase how people find out about your site. More and more people are using social sites to look for this, so it’s important to become active on social networks and to engage with people in your potential audience.

Firstly, make sure your content is easy to share. Using social media sharing buttons on your site will enable people who find your pages interesting to share what they’ve found with people in their networks, which will increase the reach of your pages naturally the more people share them.

When considering link building, there are some things to make sure you take into account following the changes Google have made to how they see and respond to links. Here are some dos and don’ts

  • Don’t buy links for your site
  • Don’t participate in link schemes
  • Don’t build only one or two hero keywords as anchor texts as you could end up with a link profile which looks like you are trying to get a ranking for a these terms
  • Don’t use article marketing sites – these were some of the first sites hit by Panda when this first launched
  • Don’t use any form of automated tool to build links and certainly don’t use low quality link directories.

5. Structured Data

Don’t miss out on the benefits of having structured data, or rich snippets on your website.  This can include things like your address, product listings, reviews and also event details.  Using this structure, data on your site can create listings in the SERPs which make it stand out, like author bios do.

Nick wrote a guide to using rich snippets on your site which you can read here.

Getting all of these things right can get the technical side of your website working correctly, which is the foundation of getting those all-important rankings.

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About the author

Emily Mace

Emily Mace

Emily joined Vertical Leap in 2008 and is now the Senior SEO Campaign Delivery Manager. Emily previously worked in training, IT Support, Website development as well as SEO and worked for local Government departments and Tourism South East. Emily gained Google Analytics Individual Qualification in 2011, and regularly blogs on the technical aspects of SEO, sharing her expertise with our readers. Follow on Google+