Search engine algorithms have become very advanced particularly in their ability to analyze the interlinking structures of the web and to determine unnatural linking practices (or 'link schemes' as they are often referred to). Techniques like reciprocal link building which worked well a few years ago, now fail to significantly improve ranking and can in fact cause serious problems if undertaken on a large scale or free-for-all uncontrolled manner.
The latest search engine algorithms place significant emphasis on determining the trust and authority of a site by analyzing who links to it. Get links from reputable sources relevant to your particular field and you will be rewarded with higher search engine ranking.
Because the search engines possess a finely honed ability to determine the quality and relevance of links there's little doubt that SEO is becoming much more difficult. Higher quality one-way links are now required and not just to the website homepage, but to every category and service the website offers through a process called deep linking (acquiring links to internal pages or your site). These links should ideally be placed on relevant content-rich pages in the body content of the page, not on content-devoid pages that consist solely of lists of links or are used for 'link exchange' purposes.
If you want to avoid search engine penalties, it has been shown time after time that the most successful web design and SEO strategies take into account Google Webmaster Guidelines. Taking this into account, here are some best practice SEO tips to help promote any new website:
1. Test Website Accessibility Thoroughly
2. Check Cross-Browser Compatibility
A site which doesn't work in one or more web browsers will result in lost business as visitors turn away in the hundreds. Before embarking on SEO, check your website renders properly in all current browser versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome.
3. Each Page Should Have a Unique Purpose
No two pages should be optimized for the same keyword and the site's structure should have a sensible hierarchy where main services and categories receive links from all website pages in what is called the persistent navigation. Less important pages should be linked from inside these sections or categories rather than in the main website navigation.
4. Research Keywords Buyers' Use
Spend time doing thorough keyword research and always consider terms potential buyers would use when looking for the products or services you sell. Use a tool like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to check local volumes and competition for keywords and build rich content around these identified terms using unique keywords on each page.
5. Write Semantic Copy
When writing copy consider the fact that search engines now attempt to extract meaning from your content by analysing the mixture of keywords you have used. For this reason a page will achieve higher relevance if it covers a topic from all angles and contains many different complementary keywords relevant to that topic rather than repeating the same phrase time and time again. Start by assigning a page an H1 heading (the main page heading) and then breaking the topic down into four or five sub-topics each of which should have an H2 or H3 sub-heading. Each sub-topic will then have its own sub-set of keywords around the main topic. This technique can significantly improve the semantic meaning extracted from any content.
6. Build Website Value
Write compelling original content that is in-depth, topical and relevant. Don't be tempted to copy content from elsewhere on the web as search engines employ advanced duplicate content detection. Write about topics which aren't covered extensively elsewhere and provide valuable content which is helpful to your readers. Websites with unique content and value consistently sustain higher readership and acquire more quality links which in turn lead to higher ranking and readership.
7. Use a Unique Title Tag for Each Page
Each page on your website should have a unique page Meta Title Tag. Just to clarify, this is the TITLE tag inside the HEAD area of the HTML code. The Meta Title remains one of the most important aspects of SEO and is one of the top five Google ranking factors even after the latest search engine algorithm changes. Title tags should be less than 70 characters including spaces and should contain the page's main target keyword along with a secondary keyword alongside your brand (if needed). Avoid repeating the same keyword more than once and place the most important keyword at the beginning of the title.
8. Write Unique Meta Descriptions for Each Page
While the Meta Description Tag now has little overall ranking influence, it is still frequently used by the search engines in the search results when listing your site's pages. For this reason it is important. Having well written, unique Meta Description tags can significantly improve click through and result in more website traffic. Meta Descriptions should be around 160 characters long including spaces and comprise an accurate description of the page with a compelling reason to visit it. A few of the main target keywords should be incorporated towards the beginning of the description. The Meta Description can be found inside the HEAD area of a web page.
By Steve Larkins (c) 2011
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