One of the most frequent requests regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to not just improve a site’s ranking but get it near the top of the first search page. Here is a quote from Google’s Webmaster Tools about Search Results:
When a user enters a query, our machines search the index for matching pages and return the results we believe are the most relevant to the user. Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal: Google works hard to improve the user experience by identifying spam links and other practices that negatively impact search results. The best types of links are those that are given based on the quality of your content.
Google uses over 200 factors to determine your page relevancy!
It can all be overwhelming, but here are a few important things to work towards:
- Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly describe your purpose/business.
- What keywords? What words would a user type into a search bar to find your site? Those should be your keywords.
- Content, content, content. Create pages for users, not for search engines. Have strong, relevant content and use your keywords frequently.
- Use keywords as headers, make keywords bold, and use keywords as links to other content on your site.
- Update/refresh your content regularly.
- Name your pages specifically aimed towards search keywords (and, of course, your content).
- Keep the title to less than 80 characters and using keywords appropriate to the page.
- Use keywords that are contained in your text and that users would type into a search page to find your pages.
- Use ALT and <title> elements on all images – search engines can’t “read” a photo.
- Create a sitemap specifically for search engines.
- Manually submit your sitemap to search engines.
There are many more guidelines/resources available from Google Webmaster Tools Guidelines page.
There is also a large industry out there that does nothing but SEO. But buyer beware. Many can improve your page rank for a usually hefty price. if you sign up for SEO, get their promises in writing and read the fine print.