Getting visitors to a website through the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN is on the priority list of every website owner. Yet, many still do not understand how to position their website high in search engine result pages.
Chances are your competition is well aware of the factors that play a crucial role in the SEO world.
To help every small business owner build a successful presence on the search engine result pages, I’ve compiled the 25 most influential SEO tactics. Employ them into your website and you should see dramatic improvement in your Google rankings.
25 Most Important SEO Factors
- Keyword use anywhere in title tag – Always start with a thorough keyword research. Each page should always have a unique title tag that is descriptive of what the page is all about. The title tag of your website should not only be easy to read, but should also be written to bring in traffic. While you need your title to be optimized for your main keyword for that specific page, it should not be stuffed with keywords. If you are a business catering to local customers, be sure to include locality in the title tag.
- Keyword use at the beginning of the title tag – Concentrate on a keyword for which you want to rank well in Google and use it at the very beginning of the title tag. Regardless of what you may think, your company name does not belong there and sometimes should not be used in the title at all. You have a limited number of characters that will be indexed by the search engines so use those well.
- Keyword focused anchor text from external links – Inbound links from other domains are crucial. Inbound links with your keyword as the anchor text are much, much better. They are highly important for SEO.
- External link popularity/relevancy – Quantity and quality of external links matter greatly. While every link is like a vote and the more links your page gets the more popular Google considers your site to be, quality trumps quantity. It’s much better to have three highly relevant links to you from other popular related websites than 30 links from unrelated low ranked sites.
- Diversity of link sources – It is better to have inbound links from many unique root domains. Don’t get all your links from one type of source; make sure you have a healthy blend.
- Unique content – Duplicate content is frown upon by the search engines.
- Fresh content – Adding a dynamic component to your website that will add or change content regularly is a good way to freshen your page. Search engines are like children ever hungry for new information so fresh and relevant content can be very appealing. Add viral aspect and plenty of quality incoming links and you got yourself an authoritative page and will rank well.
- Authority of the domain – New content on a domain that already has a strong online presence is valued more by the search engines.
- Keyword in domain name – Having a keyword in the domain name can give you a great SEO edge over your competition.
- Keyword use in body text – Repeating your keyword(s) throughout the content of the page tells Google what the page is about and how relevant it is to a particular search term. Don’t overdo it; make sure to write for humans first. Bolding important keywords makes a difference as well.
- Keyword in H1 header tag – Google knows that the most important information on the page is in the header tag. Make sure there is only one H1 tag and optimize it well.
- Keyword in anchor text for internal links – Having links to a particular page from other pages on its own domain is important. Those links show the search engines that this page is highly valued. Take that further and link with a keyword as the anchor text to give yourself a nice SEO boost.
- Keyword in anchor text of outbound links – Linking out should be apart of your SEO strategy. If you are not linking out at all you are sending a signal that you are not part of the Internet as a whole. Make sure to only link out to relevant and quality pages and use keyword-rich anchor text. Be smart about your internal & outbound linking strategy.
- Keyword at the beginning of the page (50-100 words) – Search engines assume that the top of your page contains the most important and relevant information so make sure that you use important and relevant keywords in the first 50-100 words on your page.
- Keyword in page URL – Google pays attention to sites with keywords in their permalinks. Make sure that your blog is not setup to use session IDs in the URL. It is always better to use descriptive, easier to read and keyword-rich URLs.
- Keyword use in other headline tags (H2 – H6) – Although less important then H1, other header tags still carry some SEO weight and should not be overlooked.
- Keyword in alt text for images – Every relevant image should have an alt tag with your keywords mentioned in the tag.
- Domain age – This one goes along the authority of the domain (#8). Older domains enjoy more credibility then their younger counterparts simply because they are viewed as more trustworthy. Also, spammers often register domains for very short periods of time so it is always a good idea to register a domain for more then just a couple of years.
- Existence of meta description tag – Even though having keywords in the meta description doesn’t impact rankings they can play a significant role in the sites click through rate from the SERPs. The description tag is the paragraph that people will see when your page comes up in the search results, so it should be captivating and designed to attract business.
- HTML to text ratio – Bloated code and poor load time are a really bad thing for the search engines. Be sure to use include files to call your scripts wherever possible, and just clean up or take out all of your unnecessary code. You’d be surprised by what you can live without or how much can be called from an external file.
- Page that is HTML valid to W3C Standards – HTML Validation is not necessary, but running validation is an easy way to catch broken code that can trap spiders.
- Use of XML Sitemap – The XML site map has become the de facto standard for ensuring all that of your pages get crawled.
- Permanent 301 Redirects – If you have to change the filename of an existing page or delete it entirely, you have to make sure to redirect both search engine spiders and humans to another page on your site. There are two main reasons for using a 301 redirect: one is to avoid the 404 (page not found) error (search engines do not like sites with broken links and they may see them as not credible), the other is to retain the value of any inbound links you may have obtained for that page.
- Canonical Issues: the www.vs non www – Google sees subdomains as separate domain names, and the www prefix is just another subdomain. It is important to decide which version to use. You then need to implement the proper rules on your host server (via .htaccess on Apache and its own method for Windows servers) plus set the record straight in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Neighboring Domains – Having spammers as your IP neighbors can be potentially bad so make sure to buy hosting services from a reputable company.
What have I missed? What else do you employ in your overall SEO strategy?