Three Website Updates You Can Do NOW To Immediately Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

Number 1
Image by itmpa via Flickr

A Brief Description of Search Engine Ranking

Search engines, like Google and Yahoo!, try to provide their searchers with the most relevant results for their search terms.  To do this, they have spiders (yuck, right?) that regularly “crawl” internet websites collecting data that they then use in a mathematical equation (called an algorithm).

Now, there are companies out there (including Ahh! Interactive Marketing) that do a great job improving those key numbers for companies so that they will appear on the first page (ideally in the top five spaces on the first page) of the search results.  Why?  Well, think about it.  When was the last time you looked at the second page of your search results?  When was the last time you even went to the bottom of the page?  Need I say more?  Being on top is important.

We’ll discuss many of the factors that go into getting great search engine rankings in future posts.  If you want to do some research on your own check out the Beginner’s Guide to SEO at SEOmoz.  For now, we’re going to focus on things in your website that you can (and should) do right now.

You should easily be able to make these changes on your own but, if you don’t have access to your website (we need to talk about that), the minor cost of having someone else do it is well worth the money.  The results could be THAT big!

NOTE:  If you’ve had your site created or re-designed in the last three years and your developers failed to do these things, it’s time to find a new developer.  Yours has already lost you too many potential customers and too much money.   

What’s a Keyword and Why is it So Important?

On regular basis, search engine spiders crawl your site looking for keywords – important words that help them understand what each page on your website is all about.  The spiders bring these keywords back to master control where the information is stored or “indexed”.  When someone types words into their search box, the search engine looks in their index, finds sites with the best matching keywords and returns the results.

Are you connecting any dots yet?  Well, if not let me spell it out for you.  The easier you make it for spiders to find your important keywords on your website that match what people type into the search box, the greater the chance your site will show up in the results and the more people will have a chance to click on your link.  Pretty basic really.

There’s an entire segment of online marketing devoted to keyword research and optimization.  We’re not going to dive into that ocean.  Today’s goal is to be sure you’re taking advantage of these easy features.  You can always make refinements as you learn more about your audience and your keywords.  We are not going for perfection here – we want improvement.

For now, when choosing your website page keywords, consider what you’re offering on the page and how your current customers ask for it now.  That will give you a good enough idea of what they might type into a search engine to find you online.  You’ll see what I mean in the examples.

The Three Places To Update Your Website NOW.

Your Website TITLE Tags.

NOTE: If you do nothing else DO THIS!!

WHAT ARE THEY?

TITLE tags are tags writing into the HTML code of your page.  They are the content between the HTML tags <TITLE> </TITLE>.

WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

TITLE tags are widely known to be one of the “big three” as far as weight given to them in search engine algorithms.  Even though this is widely known, I am blown away by the number of sites that don’t take advantage of this.

Fixing just the TITLE tags alone can make a significant improvement in your sites search engine ranking.  So get on it!! 

I’m telling you, once you understand the importance of this single detail, you will constantly be checking site page titles and chuckle all the way to the bank at the number of sites that don’t take advantage of this one simple standard.

HOW TO MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU.

Each of your website pages should have a unique, descriptive TITLE no longer than 70 characters that includes your primary keywords for that page, your brand, and, especially if you’re a local business, your location.

Another reason to make these as descriptive as possible is that they will appear as the link title in the search results.

Use the text on the page to determine your keywords.  For example, let’s say you’re ABC Pilates Studio in Nashville, TN and the page provides your class schedule your TITLE tag might say “Pilates Class Schedule – ABC Pilates Studio – Nashville, TN”.  This is another place where dashes or hyphens can make your content easier to understand.

Got the idea?  Good.  Get going.

 Your Website Page Names.

WHAT ARE THEY?

Page file names are the names that show up in your web browser.

WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Page file names are one of the first elements search engine crawlers and readers encounter.  Use them to communicate briefly and succinctly what is on the page.

HOW TO MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU.

So, instead of using numbers or something archaic like “services”, use descriptors that will mean something like “chiropractic-services-in-Nashville”.

Did you notice how I used hyphens?  That’s another trick to make the name easy for crawlers and people to read the title and know what the page is offering.

Your META Descriptions.

WHAT ARE THEY?

Meta Descriptions are another piece of the HTML code on each of your pages.  They appear in the tag <META name=”description” content=”your description here”>.

WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Search engines don’t use META descriptions to rank your website in search results, but they DO use them as the preview snippet for a given page.  Well written META descriptions can make a great first impression of your website in the search results and provide people with more information to decide whether they want to visit your page or not.

HOW TO MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU.

The best META Descriptions are well-crafted, compelling descriptions of what your website page is offering and why a person should click on the link.  Because they are summaries, they can be anywhere from 150-160 characters long; plenty of room to convince someone they’ve found the right page.

Congratulations! You Did It!

You’ve just made your website more search engine and people-friendly.  And I’ll bet it was a lot easier than you thought.  Of course, this is only the beginning, but small, deliberate steps will eventually return ENOURMOUS results.

Nervous about fiddling with HTML code?

Not sure where to find the items that we referenced in this blog?

Subscribe today to our blog and get our FREE Detailed Guide “Three FREE Ways to Immediately Improve Your Search Engine Rankings”.  It answers those questions and a lot more.

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