How to Put Your Site at the Top of a Search Engine Results

Wed, May 6, 2009, by lyoto

Search Engines

Having a site well positioned in search engines for sure is the best way to attract visitors and make your site popular. This article will show some easy tips on how to optimize your website and be at the top of a search engine results.

What is the first thing you do when you want information about anything? You google (or yahoo) it. But how often do you click on the “next page” link after doing so?  And how often do you get to page, let’s say, 32? I guess you have never been there. And you are not the only one. The search engines are by far the most used way to find site, but most users just see the first results. How to have your website listed there?

What is SEO and SEM?

There are only two ways to be listed in the top results. Paying for it (or in “fancy” words, using Search Engine Marketing – SEM) or using natural ways by showing the search engine how good your site is (Search Engine Optimization – SEO).

The search engine wants that the most relevant site appears first. It just has to know exactly which one is the most important, and sometimes that is not easy. Following some basic recommendations you can build your site in a way that will help the search engines to understand it, knowing exactly what is it about.

It is important to mention tough, that SEO is not just related to making websites with meaningful code. It is also related to focusing on specific words to make your site be considered the most relevant for those. And resulting in a better positioning, at least for those. Is something like “it is better to be the first result in a not so often searched term, than be the last one in the most search one”.

List of 10 basic rules of SEO

1 – Write your pages for humans. Sometimes, minus e more.

The most important thing is your page. Your content. Do everything and just optimize it for the search engines. Do not repeat the same keywords hundred of times, writing it on every possible corner, putting dozens of bolds. Do a nice content, and help search engines to understand what is inside with good practices.

2 – Pages should have a Title. And it should be different on each page.

There are millions of sites called “Untitled Document” on the Internet. That means nothing! You should give your page a title using the tag. And that title should be meaningful. It can have your site/brand name, but it should also have something relevant. When someone is searching for something, usually they will not type just your site name. The pages should not have the same title. Try to use specific keywords for each page. But please avoid long titles or keyword-only titles. Users will not click on it.

3 – Do a clean and meaningful html code.

Some codes generated by WYSIWYG (such as Dreamweaver and Frontpage) can be too polluted. Sometimes it worth writing your code direct in a text based HTML editor. It is not the most important thing in SEO, but is a nice practice. What you should really care, is about semantic. HTML has elements for lists (ordered and unordered), paragraphs, titles etc. Use them. Just take a look on that list of html tags and make sure you will use them if applicable.

4 -Google does not read images. Use “alt” attributes.

All your images should have should have an alt attribute. ALL of them. It is also related to the meaningful code I talked in the previous section. Those tags are really important for those who can’t read images (like a blind person using a screen reader software or google’s web crawler). Do not forget them.

5 – Use headings and strong tags.

Using of “H1″, “H2″, “H3″, “H4″, “H5″ and “H6″ is also really important.  It is also important to use the and tags like “B” and “STRONG”. You can have the same visual effect with CSS, but search engines does not care about them. Make sure you use those tags, but you do not use them in every line.

6 – Avoid “click here” links.

Another important tag is the basic “A” tag. Not only the destination is important, but also the text (or image alt attribute) that is linking. You should not have something like “CLICK HERE to see the blue dog running”, but something like “see the BLUE DOG RUNNING”. The words inside the anchor are considered keywords. Follow that rule for internal or external links.

7 – Do not try to cheat.

You will be caught and punished by the search engine (may even be banned). It is just not the best thing to do.

8 – URL is really important.

It may even be the most important thing. Following some tips can bring you better results:

  • Do not use underscore (’_'). Use dashes (’-')
  • URL is case sensitive. Having everything in small cases will bring you better results.
  • Do not pass session id on the URL. All users will have a different URL, and that is definitively not good.
  • Use relevant names in the url (and not Ids).
  • Never change a URL
  • Use canonical URL scripts to avoid having different urls to the same site (such as site.com, www.site.com and www.site.com/index.html)

If you want more information about this topic, read the Top 10 Fatal URL Design Mistakes article from SEOblog.

9 – Be social.

The number of sites that link to your site (as well as the relevancy of each one) is also important. Creating hundreds of “dummy” pages that just link to your site is useless (and forbidden). But commenting on blogs (never spamming!), digging your content, posting it on StumbleUpon and in social bookmarks like delicous can make your ranking better (and also bring you directly traffic). There are tons of social bookmarks over there. Make use of them.

10 – Avoid frames, Ajax and Flash

Do not use frames at all. Use Ajax and Flash just when really needed. And for better results make sure someone without those technologies can navigate on your site. For better results, never create your menu in Flash.

It will take some time

Results can will not come instantly! It can take months until all the SEO techniques applied to your site convert into notable results. Do not get disappoited. Meanwhile, remember content is important and keep updating yor site (and posting your updates in social sites). If you want faster results, keep reading about SEO and go ahead applying some new techniques! Good luck!

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