Top 5 basic SEO tips

Here are our top 5 basic SEO tips to help your website perform better in the search engines and to help you improve on your current high position in the search results.

1) Content
2) Links – deep links
3) Domain names and file names
4) Tags – Meta, H1, Alt
5) Tracking – Webmaster tools and analytics

1) Content

Everyone should know by now that good quality content is essential to gain a high position in the search results. Ideally all content should be unique; not stuffed with keywords; and written for the user and not the search engine.

An easy way to find out if your content is unique is to do a search in Google using some of your content. If you put the search in inverted commas (“your content”) Google will return the websites it has indexed with the same content.

As for keyword stuffing there are plenty of tools out there that will show you the percentage of keywords on your page, you should aim for no more than 8%.

2) Links

Link building is still one of the most important aspects of SEO, as the number of backlinks you have is an indication of the popularity or importance of your website.

It’s important to remember that the best backlinks will be from sites that have relevant information about what your site is about, the more relevant the better as Google rates this very highly.

For example, there’s not much point in linking to a site about a local football team from a hair and beauty site. In an ideal world the links you get will be from similar or complementary sites. When looking for backlinks, searching for sites that appear for keywords you want is a good starting point.

But where should the backlinks point to? The answer is the most relevant pages on your site; you should put as much focus on deep-linking to good quality pages within your site as you do on your homepage links.

3) Domain names and file names

There’s lots of scope for SEO around URLs. Google guidelines suggest that you build a brand, but nevertheless keyword rich domains do well in search for the keywords in the domain name… if the SEO is done right.

As for file names they should be based around the top level keywords for that page, there’s no reason to give pages or files random names. If a page is based around keyword content, then the filename should contain that keyword.

For example, a page that has content about blue widgets should use the file name: ../blue-widgets.htm. This is one way of telling the search engine that this page is about blue widgets. One point I will make here is you should try to use hyphens in filenames; it’s well documented that this is best practice.

4) Tags – Meta, H1, Alt

There are certain tags you should be using to full effect as part of your on-page SEO; these include META tags (Title, Description and Keywords), the H1, H2 and H3 tags and Image Alt tags.

META Tags (Title, Description and Keywords)

Title tag should be descriptive, and contain your most important keyword/keyword phrase for that page/content (max 80 characters).

Description tag allows you to control the depiction of your page as some search engines use this text below your title in the search results. The text used should be persuasive and to-the-point to attract users, but also contain keywords relevant to page content (between 150 and 200 characters).

Keywords tag as the name suggests, this tag should contain keywords and keyword phrases relevant to the page content. But try not to include the same word more than 7 times as this can be seen as spammy (max 20 keywords/phrases).

H1, H2, H3 tags

Unlike META tags, these sit in the main body of content on your site and function as level headings for documents, with H1 being the top level, working down to H6 as the lowest level heading or sub heading for content.

So how do you use the H tag? In terms of SEO generally we would recommend that the title of the page is replicated in the H1 tag, then use variations or extended longtail search keywords in the rest of the H tags you use on your page. Normally we only use H1, H2 and H3.

Alt text

As highlighted in a previous post Image alt text in search engine optimisation Alt text is an important tag for image search, but can also provide on-page SEO content delivering useful information to search engines.

5) Tracking

Tracking and stats should form a big part of your SEO as you need to know who is backlinking to you; where traffic is coming from; what keywords people are using; and most importantly your conversion rate.

Google has some great free software; web-based Google Analytics gives you great tracking and stats information you can plug into your current Adwords PPC account.

Also an absolute must is Google Webmaster Tools, which allows you to make your site more Google-friendly; upload sitemaps; get Google’s view of your site; and find out about any potential problems.

To conclude, there are many things that influence SEO, but if you get the basics right you have a much greater chance of achieving a high position in the search results. But always keep in mind you should try to produce a website aimed at users, which gives the best user experience, rather than just attempt to influence search engines and their spiders. This approach always delivers the best results.