Here’s a simple and quick checklist that you can use to help ensure your website is optimized for search engines.
- Keywords are in the beginning of your title tag.
- URLS are short and simple.
- Your site has a blog.
- You have outbound links to authority sites such as popular blogs, news sites and .edu and .gov resources.
- Your posts include your keyword in the first 100 words.
- Target keywords are wrapped in an H1 Tag.
- Reduce page loading speed.
- Use social sharing buttons.
- Your content has at least 1500 words.
- Add internal links to the beginning of your content to help decrease your bounce rate.
- Include your keyword at least once in an H2 or H3 subheading.
- Make sure your images have alt text tags that are keyword-rich.
Other Google Tips
Use a Search Engine Site Map
Although not strictly necessary, if you find that Google (or Bing, for that matter) is not able to discover some pages on your website, create a site map. I don’t mean the type of user site map that you see on thesitewizard.com (which is primarily meant for human beings), but a site map that is specially designed for search engines. While such a site map does not guarantee that Google will index and list every page, it will at least help it discover those missing pages if your site design is such that it has impeded the search engine from finding them before.
Check Your Robots.txt File
Like all respectable search engines, Google will read and obey a special text file on your website called the “robots.txt” file. You can control where search engines are allowed to go with this file. A corollary of this is that you can also inadvertantly block the search engine from going to certain parts of your site. It’s generally a good idea to create a robots.txt file for your website, even if it’s an empty file with zero bytes (which means that search engines are allowed to index everything on your site).
ALT text on Images
If you have been placing images on your website without bothering to place ALT text, now is a good time to add them. An “ALT text” (or alternate text) is just a way of putting a brief description (using words) of what your picture shows. They are needed by the software used by the blind so that they know what’s in the picture. Since all search engines, including Google, are essentially blind, relying on words, they also need the ALT text. The description you give in the ALT text is treated like the words occurring on your web page, although I don’t know if they are regarded as being of equal importance.
Be Careful Whom You Hire
Google’s use of links to rank a website has at least 2 side effects on the Internet. Firstly, people seeking to rank higher have engaged companies to furnish them with zillions of links. Those companies presumably set up a whole bunch of sites for the sole purpose of linking to their clients. Secondly, as a response to this, the Google programmers have retaliated (and continue to do so) by discrediting links from such “link networks” as well as penalising the sites that pay them for the service.
It’s apparently possible to run afoul of this even if you have no intention of buying links. For example, if you are not careful, and have engaged a search engine optimisation (“SEO”) company to improve your site’s performance on Google, and they use a link network, your site may inadvertantly get caught in the crossfire of this ongoing war between the link networks and Google.
The META Keywords Tag is Ignored
The Google search engine ignores the META keywords tag, and has always done so. If you have received spam from some wannabe search engine optimisation “specialist” telling you that you need to add this to your site, think twice about hiring him/her, since this recommendation already gives you a hint of the extent of his/her knowledge.
Dynamic Pages and Google
Like all modern search engines (yeah, all 2 of them), Google is able to index dynamically generated pages, so long as a link to those pages exists somewhere. For example, a page like “http://example.com/showstuff.php?page=19” can be indexed by Google, so you don’t really need to rewrite your URLs if you can’t be bothered.
If you have a dynamically generated page that you think should be indexed, just make sure you put a link to it somewhere on your site. This applies to all web pages that you want indexed anyway, so even if you don’t understand what I mean by “dynamic page”, it doesn’t matter. Make sure that all the pages of your site can be found through at least one link on your site. If they are not linked to from somewhere, no one will be able to find it, neither Google nor your visitors (unless they are psychic).
Disabling the Caching of Your Page Will Not Affect Your Page Rank
In ancient history, it was claimed that Google would penalise pages that forbade it from caching their pages. As you know, the Google search engine caches the pages it indexes unless otherwise instructed. To avoid problems with people who dislike this, they allow sites to instruct Google not to cache those pages.
Google have (“has” in US English) apparently publicly denied that disabling caching would affect the page’s ranking in any way. I tend to believe their claim.
Don’t Waste Your Time With The Google Toolbar’s Page Rank
In prehistoric times, you could add something known as the Google Toolbar to your web browser, and get something known as the “Page Rank” shown for any site you visit. In those days, the “Page Rank” would give you an idea of how important Google thought your site was.
Nowadays, the Page Rank is only one of apparently zillions of factors used by Google in ranking a website. They also discourage people from focusing on the Page Rank, and as a result, do not actually update the rank displayed on the toolbar in a timely fashion. (That is, the rank shown is often many months out of date.) In fact, I’m not sure if the page rank is even shown on the toolbar anymore.
In other words, it’s not worth your time to install the toolbar.