Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Holy Grail - Google #1

The most common question that a web design client asks me is, "How do we get on the first page of Google?"

Well, here's a few tips. They're not exhaustive nor are they guaranteed to get you to the top, but they are some of the things that we do during a web design project and we've had some excellent search engine optimisation results. Before we dive in though, a little explanation first; when we talk of keywords we're really talking of singular words or phrases. So your keyword maybe websites or website design, its just that we make no distinction between singular words or phrases when talking about keywords.
  • Know your audience, know their keywords. Before your designer starts with layout, colour schemes, etc, you should do your homework on what your customers are looking for, what terms they use when searching for your service and then tailor your content accordingly. We use WordTracker to analyse what terms people are using & find niche keywords. So, while in your trade you use the term 'site services' to describe your industrial cleaning service, you might find out the following:
    • Optimising for 'site services' means you'll be competing overwhelmingly with people selling website or computer maintenance services. Its also a very popular term, so very competitive.
    • That using 'industrial cleaning' is both a less competitive and a more accurate descriptive term for what you are offering - and its what people are more likely to use when searching for your type of service.
  • Local vs national terms. Is your service a local one? If so, its often far easier to get top billing for a term like 'leicester copy writing' than it is for 'vibratory bowl feeders' or 'organic tampons'. Don't forget to target your local market if its at all possible.
  • One page, one target. Try not to target too many keywords on one page. For example, suppose your company provides web design and ecommerce solutions. Split these into two separate pages. Target and optimise each page accordingly. So one page is devoted to marketing your 'web design leicester' service, while the other one focuses on 'ecommerce' and 'shopping carts in leicestershire'.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. Related to the above point, avoid putting too many keywords in the title of your page. Too many dilutes your scoring, so less is more.
  • Links. Try to get good quality links to your site from other 'quality' sites, and try to ensure that they use one of your keywords in their link text. Perhaps this needs a little more explanation:
    • Quality site is a website that is popular and well respected. So, if you are a member of a respected trade association (say the Federation of Small Businesses in the UK), make sure that your website is included in your company details in their online directory.The same goes for your Yellow Pages advert on Yell.com.
    • Link text: Imagine you sell estate agent property listing software. If possible, rather than using your company name in a link from another site, get them to use that keyword text instead.
  • Quality website build. If your website is well constructed underneath the hood, then a search engine will have an easier time indexing your content. Too many graphics or too much Flash is wasted on the search engines - they can't read images.
  • Dont forget the aesthetics. A cheap and nasty website will always be a cheap and nasty website, even if it is well ranked.
Well, that's not everything but its a few useful pointers to begin with. Perhaps I'll add more tips later.
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