The final post in my 10 days of search engine optimisation (SEO) tips is rather new in the search engine world. In fact, it was only announced on the Google Analytics blog on the 9th of April 2010. The speed of your page is officially a factor in Googles rankings. So what does this mean for your site? This means it’s now time for your web designer or SEO expert to take a look at a few factors.
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Here are some quick things to take a look at on your website to help your page load faster:
- Reducing the file size of your images
- Using CSS Sprites (This is a process where all frequently used images and icons are put into one image file. e.g. Here’s a Facebook sprite. )
- Placing CSS files in the <head> tags of your document
- Removing and redundant code
- Externalise inline CSS and Javscript
- Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) (This basically means that your site is deployed across different servers around the world and your sites hosting will be delivered from the server closest to the users geographical location)
There are quite a few other factors that you can take into consideration as well. If you are using Mozilla FireFox you can install Firebug and Yahoo’s YSlow add on to assess your pages performance. If I was in radio I’d have to say something like “There has never been a better time to optimise your website for speed”.
PageRank is often talked about in the search engine optimisation (SEO) community as it is essentially Google’s measure of importance of any given page on the internet. Many SEO experts will talk amongst their peers about how high their PageRank and compete with each other to see who can get a higher PageRank for their site. Frankly, I find this behaviour a little absurd. As far as I am concerned the thing that matters the most of a site is whether or not the site is performing in Google for the selected keywords. That being said, PageRank does come into play but achieving the highest number possible doesn’t always mean that the page will rank higher than competitors pages.
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So how goes Google determine the PageRank of a site? Google determines your PageRank by counting the number of back links (or inbound links) to your site and also factoring in the PageRank’s of the referral sites. I bet that still doesn’t make enough sense for a non-geek so let me use an analogy. Think of PageRank as word of mouth for your business. We all love it when people talk about our business in positive terms but it’s even better when you receive positive praise from a well known industry figure or even a celebrity. So if a celebrity (high PageRank) talks about our business (low PageRank) then our site gets a reputation boost (higher PageRank) over time.
How can I boost the PageRank of my site?
There are a few ways to boost the PageRank of your site. Some of these include:
- Writing press releases and articles for publications on external sites with links back to your site
- Asking affiliates and associates to place a link to your site on their site
- Publishing video content on sites with a link back to your site
- Publishing blog posts that have engaging content so people will link back to your site or “tweet” about your posts
- Participate in forums with a link back to your site (provided the site allows this)
- Comment on other peoples blog posts
How do I check the PageRank of my site?
You can check your PageRank on this site. Alternatively you can install the Google Toolbar and be sure to enable the PageRank option in the settings or if you are using Mozilla FireFox as your browser then you can install the SearchStatus addon.
Firstly, I’ll let you know what alt attributes are in case you haven’t heard of them before. Alt attributes show alternative text that is displayed if an image is missing or a tool tip if the user hovers their mouse over an image. Alt attributes are also important for visually impaired readers. You will see many images on websites that will have have alt attributes that just reflect the images file name.
<img alt="DSC007.jpg" src="/images/DSC007.jpg" width="800" height="600" />
This bad for search engine optimisation. Your alt attributes should contain a small amount of data that gives a brief description of what can be seen in the image. It’s best to use images that are relevant to your SEO campaign so that you can use your keywords in the alt attributes so that Google has more keyword repetition and density. If the example I used above was a picture of a person wireframing while he was redesigning a website and you were targetting the terms “website redesign” then a good alt attribute would be something like this:
<img alt="A man in the process of a website redesign." src="/images/DSC007.jpg" width="800" height="600" />
Don’t stuff your keywords into your alt attributes!
Black hat search engine optimisation “experts” used to perform the practice of keyword stuffing both in content and in the alt attributes of images. They would often only put the keywords in all the alt attributes. This would sometimes get effective results for a short period of time but in the long run Google would often black list the site in it’s results. Make sure that this doesn’t occur during your SEO campaign! This practice is very unethical and is frowned upon in the SEO community.
Sitemaps can take two forms. The first form is the one that is known by most every day users and that’s a sitemap that shows a list of all pages on a website in a list of links to those pages. These are great for assisting usability and are excellent for accessibility. The second form is much lesser known form of sitemap. It’s a XML (Extenisble Markup Language) version of a sitemap that is used by Google and also Bing. These site maps are located in the root directory of your website and are basically list of links that search engines love to read. We use a WordPress plugin to generate our sitemap. (You can view our sitemap.xml). You can check if your site has a sitemap by typing in www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml into a browser. If you don’t have one then you should definitely get a web designer or SEO expert to create one for your website then submit your sitemaps into Google and Bing.
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The robots are taking over
Another important file that you should have in the root directory of your website to assist search engines to crawl your site is a robots.txt file. (You can view our robots.txt). This file lets search engines know which directories search engine robots are allowed to crawl to read the contents of those directories. If your website has directories that contain private files then you should have rules in place to disallow those directories. Your SEO expert should fix both your robots.txt and sitemap.xml files as part of the initial setup of an SEO campaign.
I know that the saying “Content is king” has been frequently used in the web design industry over the last three or four years but it really is true. Continually, adding new content to your website has two main benefits. Firstly, you can keep your existing and new customers up to date with any news or new products your company has developed and secondly, this new content means that Google will have something to read each time that your site is crawled by Google’s robot: Googlebot!
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The Googlebot loves fresh content. On nom nom!
If you frequently update the pages on your web site, you will eventually increase the rate that the Googlebot will crawl your site. This may take 3 – 6 months to take full effect however some times the results will occur usually. Think about the Googlebot like a human being again. If a human being always read the same content on your page then what are the chances of them coming back to read it more than once or twice? Pretty slim right? Well if you don’t update the content on your site then the Googlebot will get bored and will not keep coming back as frequently to recrawl your website. If you update your content with articles, blog posts or new products then the Googlebot will crawl your site more frequently which will increase your search engine rankings and also increase the number of visitors on your website. How long has it been since you’ve added new content to your website?
When you are optimising your site with the intention of generating traffic to your site you should have a read through each page and ask yourself: Does this page have a clear focus? Often many companies will try to put everything on their home page rather and as a result Google will struggle to understand the main focus of your page. If the page mentions carpet cleaning, computers and guitars then Google will not know what the most important item is on your page. Have a clear focus for each page.
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Keyword density refers to the number of times a term or terms are mentioned on a web page. There are a number of tools and browser plugins available that will measure the keyword density of a web page. There isn’t a known effective keyword density for a web page but you should make sure that the terms you are optimising for are frequently mentioned both in content and in heading tags. Sometimes it is effective to look at your competitors keyword density and then generate content with around the same amount of keyword density of your competitors site. Have a look over the content on your site and start thinking about how you can start optimising the content on your web site.
We tend to speak a fair bit of “geek speak” at sennza but we take pride in the fact that we can turn the geek terms into analogy’s that are easy to understand. The best way to think about heading tags on your websites is to think of them as headlines in a newspaper. Think about what catches your eye when you pick up a newspaper. Think about it now! Pick up a newspaper then read on!
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The thing that will grab your attention is always the heading with the biggest font size that takes up the majority of the page or, if that’s not the case then your eye will be caught by a picture. Google is essentially “blind” so it doesn’t see the pictures, so that means that there is only one thing left to grab Google’s attention…and that’s the “headlines” or in geek speak, it’s the heading tags.
What are the heading tags on my website?
You can find your heading tags by looking through the source code on your site. Viewing source code varies depending on the browser you are using.
- Google Chrome Right click and click View page source
- Mozilla Firefox Right click and click View Page Source
- Safari Right click and click View Source
- Opera Right click and click Source
- Internet Explorer View Source
Your heading tags can appear in six different ways. They can be wrapped in <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> tags. Anything wrapped in a <h1> tag should be the most important term on your page.
Don’t wrap everything in a <h1> tag because that is rather spammy and would be considered a “black hat” search engine optimisation technique. You might get quick results by doing that but Google will punish you in the long run.
How do I use heading tags effectively?
Think about your heading tags in order of importance. The most important term(s) should be wrapped in a <h1> tag and other less specific terms should be used in <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> tags based on order of importance.
So why have you used <h2> tags in your blog post?
This is our blog…thus we don’t care about getting traffic for our blog. We care about sharing our knowledge with you and we aren’t optimising our blog for traffic! We’re transparent and we take pride in that!
Your URL is the address of your web page on the internet. The URL is displayed in the address bar of your browser. e.g.
Let’s take another look at the image above and take a moment to talk about the URL. http://www.optus.builtforbusiness.com.au/phone.php?phone_ref=HTC_Snap
Do you think this URL is easy to read from a human perspective? No.
Does Google do it’s best to read everything like a human would? Yes.
How could this URL be optimised for better search engine optimisation?
I’d suggest a URL rewriting script so that the URL would be something like this:
Why would that URL be better?
The URL that I have recommended takes away the irrelevant information and makes the URL more content specific. Google loves specific and accurate URLs. If a customer typed “business phone htc snap” into Google then the URL I have suggested will rank much higher in terms of search engine optimisation compared to the current URL.
Optimise your URL’s!
You’re probably wondering what the title tag is for a start. The title tag contains a description of the content on a page and it is displayed in your browser at the top of your screen. e.g.
Your title tag should contain a series of keyphrases that are relevant to the main content displayed on your page.
So if you’re selling truck tyres on a page on your website then you title tag should look something like this:
<title>Truck tyres, truck tires, semi tyres - Mike's Mechanical Spares</title>
A common mistake in search engine optimisation is that web designers will put the companies name first on all pages across a site. e.g.
<title>Mike's Mechanical Spares - Truck tyres, truck tires, semi tyres</title>
In this example Google would read the word “Mike’s” first then check to see how many other times “Mike’s” is mentioned on the page because Google assumes that the first words in the title page are the most important.
Change your title tag!
You need to change your title tag to reflect the content on each page. If you’re using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal then there are plugins and components that can be installed to provide you with additional fields so that you can manually adjust the title tag as well as some other options. If you have a customised website then you will need to manually adjust the title tag.
Companies and businesses have been using media monitoring services for many years to monitor what is being said about their brand and also their competitors across various media including print, TV, radio and online. Many companies are lucky enough to have the budget to employ Social Media Managers and Social Media Specialists. Their role is to keep an eye on what is being said about their brand and to interact with both existing clients and prospective clients on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and forums.
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This is an excellent because you are being proactive about your brand and you can expand both your client base and online presence by doing so. Many SME’s and even corporate clients can’t justify the expense of employing someone to monitor these networks and this is where they can use Google Alerts.
Let Google Alerts monitor your brand online!
Google Alerts is a tool that any user with an active Google Account can use to monitor keyphrases on a daily, weekly or an as-it-happens basis. Essentially Google Alerts lets you know of any mentions of keywords or brand names that have been mentioned as they are indexed (crawled by the Googlebot).
Why not spend a couple of minutes setting up a few alerts for your business? You could use Google Alerts to monitor the following items:
Interacting with people online is vital for your business and it will help increase your online presence. Be prepared to encounter both positive and negative feedback. Simple things such as thanking followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook, helping a customer with an issue about your brand, answering questions about your business all make your company more approachable, more human and more transparent. Your existing clients will love it and you’ll increase sales and get more mentions online.