5 Tips for Better Search Engine Ranking

Everyone wants their site to receive a lot of traffic, but when it comes to search engine optimization, sometimes it’s tough to know where to begin. Below are five tips to get you started with SEO and help make sure your site is search engine friendly.

Understand Keywords for Maximum SEO

Keywords are one of the most important parts of SEO. They are the words or phrases that your users submit as a query to one of the search engines.  So how do you make the most of keywords on your site?

  1. Place keywords in the title. Search engines pay a lot of attention to the words and phrases placed in the <title> tag.
  2. Make sure your <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags contain keywords.
  3. Place keywords at the top of your content. Words and phrases that are near the top of your content carry more weight than those lower on the page.
  4. Place keywords in your last paragraph. Search engines understand that important terms are often included in a closing summary paragraph.
  5. Avoid keyword stuffing! This is very important! It will adversely affect your ranking if Google thinks you’re intentionally over-using keywords in an attempt to boost your results. A general rule of thumb is to keep your keyword density to less than 5%.
  6. Write naturally. If your writing sounds awkward because you’re trying to sprinkle too many keywords into the content, you’re taking the wrong approach.
  7. Use the right keywords. This may seem obvious, but many sites are often surprised by the keywords their users are searching on. If you need help researching which keywords your audience is searching for, there are commercial services like Wordtracker that can help.
  8. Avoid using the wrong keywords. This is often a matter of careful writing. Imagine if you repeatedly spelled ‘whether’ as ‘weather’. Besides leaving a bad impression with your readers, you can imagine the search results may not be what you had expected. Using the wrong keywords can also be a problem if you are prone to repeatedly using pet phrases or slang in your writing. The important point is to be mindful of the words you are using when creating your content.

Create Linkworthy Content

Having inbound links to your website from established, reputable sites that have content similar to your own can really help your search rankings. The important point here is that quality matters. A lot of people who are new to SEO will engage in link exchanges with just about anyone. Search engines are pretty good at identifying a link from a reputable site vs. one from a link farm.

Provide Quality Content

You may have heard about Google’s recent update to its search algorithm called Panda. Overnight, thousands of sites saw their rankings plummet. Google sent a clear message with this latest change – quality matters.

To rank well with search engines, provide well-written, authoritative information. One way to ensure you’re creating good content is to simply ask yourself, “Is this content helping my users solve a real problem?”.

Another point to keep in mind about content is that size matters. I’m not suggesting you need to write epically long posts, but they should be at least 300 words.

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And for the record, spelling, grammar and punctuation are indeed a mark of quality content! Of course, it’s not necessary to be a grammar expert, but you should at least run spellcheck and thoroughly proofread anything you publish.

Optimize Your Images

Most web designers know to include an ALT attribute for accessibility reasons, but it can also help your SEO. Place keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of your images to optimize their search potential.

Another tip with regard to images is giving them descriptive, keyword-filled file names. For example, if you have an image of a flat screen television you offer for sale on your site, don’t simply name it product.jpg. Instead try something more descriptive like, flat-screen-tv.jpg.  A good file name can be as important as the ALT attribute.

Optimize Internal Links

Having links to other pages on your site helps search engines notice them. For example, say you’ve written a series of posts on typography. You should make sure you create links between the posts to help point search engines in the right direction.

An important point to keep in mind with regard to all links is the anchor text. Instead of “click here”, use a descriptive term to increase the relevance of the link.

Wrapping It Up
Creating content that ranks well with search engines takes time and practice. But SEO is a tool everyone who publishes a website should have in their kit. Do you have a favorite search engine optimization tip I left off my list?

John Hannah has been creating websites professionally since 2000. He publishes the blog, Friendly Machine, where his writing focuses on Drupal and website management topics.

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10 Comments
  1. ScienceCommunicator273 Aug 30, 11:40 pm

    Great info – thanks! I am by no means a web person, but I’m trying to improve traffic on my professional portfolio site (trying to drum up consulting opps), and these tips were easy to follow and understand. I’ve already been able to implement a few of your pointers on my main page, and I’m looking forward to seeing what impact it has on my site rankings and traffic.

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    • John Hannah Aug 31, 12:00 am

      I’m glad you found it useful! There are some practitioners who talk a lot about SEO ‘secrets’. It’s mostly marketing hype, but unfortunately it makes some people think they can’t practice effective SEO themselves. Not true! Good luck with your portfolio site.

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  2. André Buzzo Aug 31, 5:52 pm

    Hi!

    i think that you should have talked about the content. A good text, with references of a topic, is also understood with some relevance.

    Example: instead of writing “Superman lives on Metropolis”, you should write “Clark Kent, alter ego of Superman, lives on Metropolis and works at the Daily Planet” … the engines will understand that “Clark Kent”, “Metropolis” and “Daily Planet” are relative to Superman, and gives a higher relevance to another site with the first content i wrote as example!

    Thanks!

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    • John Hannah Aug 31, 9:14 pm

      Andre, it’s a good point that you make. SEO is a big topic and writing good copy is important. I was hoping in this piece to show that the average site owner CAN do some basic things to improve their site rankings.

      I really get irked by all the charlatans who are out there selling SEO “magic”. It makes some people feel that since they don’t know the secrets, they shouldn’t even bother. I was trying to demonstrate that it’s possible to improve without being a SEO wizard.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

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      • André Buzzo Aug 31, 9:26 pm

        I agree with you!!

        And to write a good content you doesn´t need to be this SEO wizard, right?

        What will happens if you do not alert your client when working with SEO, it´s the time and the patience that requires… many think´s that “I put a fantastic content today and tomorrow I will be on the first page” … and the things simply do not work in this way

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        • John Hannah Sep 1, 2:12 am

          Yes, we are in agreement Andre. Hopefully readers will see your comments and have another piece of information they can use in their SEO.

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  3. David Y Sep 1, 6:23 pm

    Great article. Hopefully more people will realize that SEO isn’t some dark confusing cloud and instead realize it’s simply providing information in a way that the average user tends to search and view things.

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  4. Analista SEO Sep 5, 12:37 am

    And avoid duplicate content too! It’s very important to create unique content for the Panda Update.

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  5. WebHustler Sep 23, 6:40 pm

    as a person currently busy establishing his own blog, i find your atickle very useful. thank you very much!

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  6. shyam Jul 5, 3:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a nice SEO tricks. I just wanted to know whether it is good to show adds from the first blog post itself? I have an adsense account and want to earn from it. Can you guide me as I have just started looking this blog world. Thanks for your understanding and reply in advance

    Reply
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