How do I help my own rankings?
Search engine optimisation is something that needs doing on a regular basis, so should be a regular scheduled activity undertaken by your web developer or SEO professional. But there are basic things that you can be doing yourself while you're keeping your website content current.
1. Content, content, content
Before the internet it used to be all about location, location,location - and to some degree it still is. The location now however is where you appear in Google, and that is heavily dependent on your content. Google prefers content that is current, and relevant for the keywords that people are searching for so you can help your website appear further up the chain by regularly checking, editing and especially adding to your website content.
Often we have clients who turn pages off prior to going live because they haven't written the copy for those pages yet, and most of the time they never get around to turning them back on despite our incessant nagging. We don't do it for fun - we nag because we know it helps you, your rankings, and thus your business by exposing your website to more people instead of your competitor's site. We can help you with writing copy - it will cost you a good deal more in lost business and opportunity than it will to have it done for you!
Even if you think your website is finished, consider adding more pages and features such as blogs (like this one) whenever you can. If you have Content Management, adding pages costs you nothing but time.
2. Meta keywords, descriptions and PAGE titles
In your CMS you have the ability to set keywords, descriptions and titles for each page on your site. More complicated sites may contain the ability to set these for individual categories and products also. Keywords can be tricky, but try to think of what keywords to search terms your potential customers are likely to enter into Google when looking for your website.
Keep your meta keywords down to under 40 per page, and your description under about 160 characters. The description can be what Google displays in search results so make sure it is an accurate, and grammatically correct, description of your website. Typos and poor grammar will put people off as it appears unprofessional and lazy.
Titles should be kept to 65-70 characters, and should be different for each page on the website, as should your descriptions.
3. Keywords in your content and headings
Using your keywords throughout your content reinforces to Google that your content is relevant for those keywords. To make it really clear, use conventional H1 to H6 'heading' styles for paragraph headings, and ensure your keywords are also found within those headings. If you want to go overboard, make keywords bold within your text copy.
4. Alt and Title Tags on Images
For every image that you upload, be sure to name the file something meaningful, and also enter a relevant 'Title' in the Image facility within your CMS. This will give your image 'title' and 'alt' (alternative) tags which tell Google about the image content - once more reinforcing the importance of your keywords and content.
5. Links from relevant websites
The number of 'backlinks' to your site is important, but only if those sites are also deemed relevant by Google to the content on your website. In other words, if you sell kitchenware in Tauranga, there's little point in having a link from an accountants website in Wellington, just because they say you can. Google will soon work out that the accountant's website is about very different subject matter and suspect that you're trying to trick it.
For this reason, be wary of any service offering to submit your site to (for example) over 400 directory websites. Given the low relevance that a high percentage will have to your website, its more likely that this will cause a demotion in ranks.
6. Business Directory Listings
Listing your site on known business directories is one way to get links to your website, but be mindful that some directories tell Google not to follow links. Make sure your directory 'pages' are as professional as your website. Have logo images made that meet the size dimensions of the site, and ensure all your details are consistent. Keep a list of all the directory sites you submit to and check them every six months - some sites drop your changes and re-populate with old data. Make sure you keep your login details for each site, as well as the website address - some directories are named with similar names.
Keeping your directory listings current can be time consuming, so remember that we can take care of this for you. It's often quicker for us as we're doing it all the time.
Remember, keeping your website current and the content relevant are the two most helpful things that you can do to help your own Google rankings. There are many other factors to SEO than just the above, but these are a few points that you can assist with. We're here to help when you're ready for content, business directory listings and more advanced search engine optimisation.