Step 1 – Identify Your Search Keywords
A common misconception with new web site owners is to try and improve their search engine ranking based on their company name or domain name. This is not a good strategy, since a customer who already knows about you probably does not need help finding your web site. Instead, your goal should be to try and attract new customers to your web site using Keywords.
Keywords are the terms potential customers enter in a search engine to find a web site that meets their needs. Essentially any word can be a keyword, though obviously more specific terms yield more accurate results. Finding the correct keywords to use for your web site is the most important early step for getting your site optimized for search engines. Ideally, you will know your keywords even before you start creating content for your web site.
A good way to identify your best keywords is to think about the core of your business. Do you offer a specific type of product? The name of the product would make a good keyword. Do you only service a specific region? The specific city/state/etc would be a good keyword. You do want to be as specific as possible. If you are selling golf equipment, “golf” on its own is not a good keyword, but “golf bags” is better and a specific brand is even better. Keep in mind that if you are in a competitive business sector (such as electronics), that you will find it more difficult to stand out in search engines. Be sure to look for anything that marks your business as unique, and put that in your keywords.
Once you’ve identified a few keywords, you should enter them into Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. This will give you alternatives to use so that you are not just repeating the same words over and over. For example, if I enter “blu ray player” into the tool, I get hundreds of other ideas, including how many times each phrase has been searched for.
Step 2 – Title and Name Your Pages Using Keywords
The titles and filenames of your pages are very important for search engine results. Whenever you create a page, make sure you use keywords in the Page Title and Page File Name fields. For example, if you are describing a specific product on the new page, you should include the product’s name in the title and filename. Since you cannot have spaces in the file name, you can use hyphens (-) instead.
Some companies will encourage you to put a very large amount of keywords in your page titles. This will not actually help your search engine ranking, as most search engines look at this as trying to spam them. If you do a Google search for a popular product, you will generally find that the top ranking sites tend have no more than ten words in the title and will generally have closer to five or six.
Step 3 – Create Your Page Content, Including Keywords
Your page content is very important for search engine results. Each of your pages should have content featuring the keywords you have decided upon. A good rule-of-thumb is that about 5% of each page’s word count should be keyword content. Any more than that and the search engines may think you are trying to flood them with keyword content. Search engines like pages with about 300-400 words, so you should be looking to have about 15 to 30 keywords for pages of that size.
Search engines look at the context of your keyword content, so you should make sure to place your keywords in headings. To mark text as a heading, edit the Rich Text Editor it is in, highlight the text, and choose one of the six Heading options from the Format box. You should have no more than one Heading 1 and 2-3 Heading 2 per page.
If your content includes links to other pages on your site, make sure that the linked text uses keywords for that destination page. This helps search engines place more importance on that page.
Step 4 – Add a Page Description for Each Page
Search engines will often use a page’s Page Description for the text that appears with your search result. This makes the text you use very important for drawing users to your site, despite it not having an effect on your actual ranking. If you have an engaging description, you might get the visitor to choose your site over a higher ranked competitor.
Step 5 – Get Other Sites to Link to You
Arguably the most important step you can take to improve your search engine ranking is to have other sites provide keyworded links to your site. Search engines look at the content of other sites, and if they see several sites linking to yours they will increase your ranking. This is why you will often see sites like Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database as the first result in several searches: they are linked to by an incredible number of web sites.