Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Website Optimisation for your website

So let's get a bit more technical about what you should be looking to do on your site.

I'll make a few assumptions:
1) you already have a domain name that is relevant to what you do
2) you already have your website hosted somewhere
3) you have access to tools that enable you to edit your html copy
4) you have some idea of the content you want to put up

Now for some warnings:
1) don't expect the tips I give you here to shoot you to the top of the search results automatically - if getting page 1 listing was so easy everyone would be there. There are a whole range of things you also need to look at 'off site'. More about that later.
2) search engine algorithms evolve - what is helpful one day may be irrelevant the next or even harmful. Remember this as you think about how much money/effort you want to put into your website. It is an investment of time and money that should carefully monitor - at some point your return on your investment will be negative if you keep putting money and time into it.

Website Optimisation Tips

Simply you need to:
  1. Identify which keywords are relevant to attract people to your website - there are several tools you can use to identify keywords. Some rely on having access to a large database of search data (eg Google or Microsoft). Some even rely on looking at your competitors websites to take advantage of their existing investment in search engine optimisation. This is where you will spend a lot of time really understanding what people look for online and what drives real business or just casual information seekers.
  2. Optimise the title tag on each webpage. When I say optimise I mean use the keywords that are relevant to the content of the page you are optimising. Ensure that you use less than 80 characters, and use more prominent words on the left hand side. DO NOT stuff a title with your keywords. You do yourself more harm than good by providing titles that do not read clearly for the person who has searched for that term. Remember your title will appear in the search results! Remember to optimise the title tag of EACH web page to the content on that page.
  3. Optimising the meta description and keywords tags on each page. Similar to the title tag you should include your more important keywords towards the left of the description, and each page description should be unique. Here you have 2-3 sentence of 30-40 words each to describe the content on that web page. Once again your description will occur in the results page. Google seems to have moved away from using the keywords tag but it still remains useful for other purposes and reminding you what you are trying to optimise the page for.
  4. Optimising page content, heading and alt tags - ensure you use a range of your keywords multiple times on the web page preferably in the heading and towards the beginning and end of each page. You should keep your content relatively concise so the density is high and the content is neatly partitioned into logical groups.
  5. The final step is to revisit step 1 and repeat over based on what you have learnt about the changes that alter the browsing pattern of visitors to your site over a period of time.
For more detailed advice consider Google's SEO tips.

How important is ranking highly? Here's some data from SEOBook that really spells out the equation. All other things being equal if you could be listed at either number 1 or number 10 in the search rankings you would expect a 14 fold increase in traffic if you were at number 1. If you are on page 2 of the results things look even bleaker.

Overall Percent of Clicks

Relative Click Volume

  1. 42.13%, 2,075,765 clicks
  2. 11.90%, 586,100 clicks
  3. 8.50%, 418,643 clicks
  4. 6.06%, 298,532 clicks
  5. 4.92%, 242,169 clicks
  6. 4.05%, 199,541 clicks
  7. 3.41%, 168,080 clicks
  8. 3.01%, 148,489 clicks
  9. 2.85%, 140,356 clicks
  10. 2.99%, 147,551 clicks
  1. 3.5x less
  2. 4.9x less
  3. 6.9x less
  4. 8.5x less
  5. 10.4x less
  6. 12.3x less
  7. 14.0x less
  8. 14.8x less
  9. 14.1x less

1st page totals: 89.82%, 4,425,226 clicks
2nd page totals: 10.18%, 501,397 clicks

As an aside I managed to hit first position in the Live search engine yesterday for some of our keywords. Since I've dropped down a few spots but we're still on the first page. I wonder whether there is any special magic about a new submission? BTW it took me ages to get listed on Live - I submitted a few months ago and then eventually decided to sign up for their webmaster tools equivalent and submit a sitemap. So far no major traffic spike as a result. ;-)

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben,

    This is very useful info. I found a great resource on the web that explains how meta titles, descriptions, etc work.

    This is a free ebook and well worth reading

    Thanks Paul
    Natural Skin Care