The key techniques for boosting search results ranking
1. Use keyword tools to test search terms
Once you’ve researched words and phrases your readers might use to find you, you should test them using one of the keyword checking tools available online. A good place to start, as we saw earlier, is the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
2. Use keywords in the page title and headings
There are two HTML tags that search engines rate very highly:
- Heading 1
One of the biggest SEO paybacks comes from adding keywords to the text inside these tags. How do you put them there?
A web designer can add the HTML tags to the code. But a content management system (CMS) like WordPress makes it easy for users to do it as they create or edit the content.
Let’s look at how WordPress does it. Other CMS systems work similarly. WordPress automatically places the title you give the article into the HTML Title tag. And its editor includes a Paragraph style button you can use to apply the Heading 1 style tag to selected text. Click on the image to the right to see the WordPress editor with these features highlighted.
The most important tag is the Title. It’s the link you click on in the Google search results. It’s also what you see in the top bar or tab label of your web browser when you’re on the page. As well as the Heading 1 style, you might also use Heading 2, 3 and so on.
3. Add keywords in the first 50-100 words of copy
Google and other search engines place higher importance on copy that’s closer to the top of the page.
4. Use categories and tags
If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, don’t post your story until you’ve added categories and tags. These are used to classify your stories. As well as making it easier for visitors to find related stories on your site, search engines love them as keyword matches. Click on the CMS editor image (WordPress) to see them highlighted.
5. Get in-bound links from other sites
Google’s search algorithm, called Page Rank, counts the number and quality of links coming into your site from other sites. So getting more, high-quality in-bound links — that is, links from other well-ranked sites to pages on your site — is one of the best ways to improve your rankings.
6. Use keywords in links
Search engines follow links, whether they’re on your site or in-bound from an external site. Where you can control the text, make sure your links are rich with relevant keywords.
This should include internal links (that is, links to pages within your site). So instead of writing: ‘Click here to buy my book’, you should write: ‘Here’s where to buy The Secret Life of Spiders’.
Internal links serve another purpose: They help the search engine spiders to find important pages on your site. They’re also good for human visitors, giving them more opportunities to stay on your site and view more of its content.
7. Have lots of fresh, unique copy
Search engines like new content, and they don’t like duplicated content: They’ll mark you down if they find that a lot of your content is on, or from, other sites.
8. Optimize your website design
We’ve emphasized that SEO is about optimizing individual pages. But there are several things affecting the overall site that will improve your search rankings. Your web designer should ideally do these at the initial site design stage but you can add some of them later.
Take a recent article or promotional piece you've written. Choose some keywords relevant to it (you can do this by brainstorming or with the help of the Google AdWords Keyword Tool). Rewrite the article using the chosen keywords and some of the techniques described above.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.