Virtually every business can benefit from having a high profile on the web. There are two ways to achieve this, one is to pay for every click (Pay Per Click – PPC) and the other is to gain a natural ranking position through optimisation your web page for the search engines – search engine optimisation (SEO).

So how do you optimise your web site so that it appears high in the rankings?

The important thing to remember is that the search engines generally have one aim in mind – to bring to the fore the most appropriate web sites for any given word or phrase that is used.

Imagine that you are manually choosing the most appropriate web site for a particular phrase. What rules would you use? Here are a few you might use:

  • A page that uses that phrase a number of times – if it keeps repeating that phrase then the page must be providing information about it
  • A page that perhaps includes the phrase in the title – that must mean that this page considers the phrase important to what is written on the page
  • A page that lots of other web sites point to (have links to) – if others think that page is worth “pointing to” then it indicates it’s useful
  • Which sites are pointing to the page? You would probably consider some sites to be more discerning than others.
  • How large is the site? If it has lots of pages then it is likely to have more useful information
  • How often is the web site updated? Sites that are updated more often are more likely to be current and therefore more useful.

All of these form the basis of the rules governing most search engines.

So how do you use these rules to help the visibility of your site?

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN are always changing their rules and using more sophisticated techniques to achieve the best results so there is no simple fixed solution but there are some basics that will always help.

The basic rules to follow are:

  • Decide which short phrases are important. I.E. What phrases are your customers likely to use when searching for your type of business? You will achieve better results focusing on a 2 or 3 word phrase rather than a single word. For example, if you clean wheelie bins in Newcastle then focusing on a phrase such as ‘wheelie bin cleaning in Newcastle’ is likely to produce better results than simply ‘wheelie bin’.
  • Try to include the phrase in the name of the page
  • Try to include the phrase in the heading on the page.
  • Include the phrase a number of times throughout the page but keep the phrase in context and don’t simply repeat the phrase.
  • Now here’s a “techie bit” – in any web page there are three pieces of information called Meta Tags that need to be completed correctly (your web developer can do this for you).
    • Title – Make this short, precise and make sure you include the phrase within the first 10 words
    • Description – This can obviously describe your page more fully but don’t waffle. If possible use your phrase twice in this but don’t simply repeat it.
    • Keywords – Make sure your main phrase is first in this list
  • You need to add credibility to your site by getting as many links to it as possible. The simplest ways to achieve this are as follows:
    • Ask customers, suppliers and/or partners to place a link to your site from theirs – perhaps as part of a testimonial?
    • Write articles about your business and your main subject and place those articles on the many free article web sites – find these by simply searching for ‘free articles’. Make sure each article (or the information about the author) includes a link to your site.
    • Register your business on every free online business directory site that you can find on the web.
  • The final important element is to make sure your site is accurate, up to date and highly relevant to your business area and the subject phrase that you feel is most important. Things to look out for are:
    • Broken links I.E. Links to other pages on the site that don’t link to a live a working page
    • Update pages regularly – a site that has the same content for many months will be “marked down” by the search engines
    • Size matters – a more substantial site with many pages of information will be considered to be potentially more important. Bit don’t pad the site with rubbish!

Gaining and keeping a high ranking on the search engines takes time and effort but it’s not complicated. If you follow these basic rules you will improve your search engine rankings and you could even gain that coveted page one spot!