This is a compilation of my opinion of the 5 quickest and easiest ways to better your SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is probably one of THE most important things you can do for your website. You could have the best designed site with the absolute GREATEST content, but without being optimized it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Tip #1: Use Lowercase URLs
This is probably the easiest and quickest little boost you could give your ranking.
Depending on your server’s operating system, file names and/or directories may or may not be case sensitive. So, casing in your URLs could mean trouble.
For example, http://www.yoursite.com/portfolio.html and http://www.yoursite.com/Portfolio.html are two completely different URLs if your server is running a UNIX system. However, if your server is Windows based, then those two URLs would be one and the same.
Now just throw in the fact that www.yoursite.com and WWW.YOURSITE.COM are always going to be the same domain, and the possibility of confusion is almost inevitable.
So, the best idea is to make all file and directory names lowercase by default. This way you do not have to worry about whether or not your URLs are going to get processed correctly.
Tip #2: Dislodge Your Underscore Key
Ok, so you don’t really have to remove the underscore key from your keyboard… However, it is certainly a good idea to refrain from using the underscore and/or periods in your file names.
We’ve all seen them… The super long page name separated by underscores.
File names like this are all too common, and are detrimental to SEO.
So, why do we do it?
1. Three main reasons:We think like humans, not like computers.
We look at a line of text and read it as words, and therefor attempt to separate it accordingly. Computers on the other hand do not. A computer sees characters and couldn’t care less about it being “human readable”.
2. Underscores are promoted when picking usernames and/or email addresses
Most sites will allow the underscore to be used as a separator when choosing your username and/or email address. This makes it all that much more common for us to use the underscore key more often.
3. Underscores look more like spaces
When viewing a page and/or file name that has been separated by underscores, our brains process the gap between the words first as a regular “space”. So, it isn’t too far fetched to say that this could be a contributing factor in why people use the underscore to separate words in page/file names.
So why is it bad?
Well, the underscore is often difficult to notice and even more difficult to type. Also, using separators of any kind when naming files is usually a sign of a poorly designed site structure.
So how do we fix it?
Easy! Simply put… DON’T USE UNDERSCORES!
If you find that you just have to use some sort of separator in your file names, it is less detrimental to use the hyphen ( – ).
Tip #3: Be A Title Tell
Have you ever visited a site and noticed that in the browser’s title output area, it only reads “index.html” or “Blank”?
This is because that person did not utilize the <title> tag. The title tag (or “title element”), is used to identify the contents of a page. It is one of the most important steps to improving your optimization level, yet it’s one of the most frequently discarded.
Another thing people don’t seem to realize is that each page has to have it’s own unique title. I have personally seen countless sites that use the exact same title for each page. This gives no indication as to what kind of content is on each individual page.
It is important when picking your title, you should use keywords and/or keyword phrases that are targeted in that particular page. For example, if we had a page where we were selling Keebler Elf Memorabilia and our shop is located in Arkansas…
Ideally our title should look something like this:
<title>Keebler Elf Memorabilia | Arkansas</title>
There is no “set length” for the title tag, however you should be aware that if it is too long it can and could be truncated. I would recommend keeping your title tag text below 63 characters (including spaces).
Tip #4: HALT… In the name of SEO!
A critical, but all too often overlooked step in optimization is including the “alt” attribute to your images. This is quickly becoming more and more important to SEO, and should not be taken lightly.
Also, the alt attribute is required for valid (X)HTML.
I won’t go into a full blown explanation as that only bore you. Just know that there are a few guidelines for the alt text you add to your images.
1. Don’t try stuffing your alt attribute with keywords
This is an approach which many of the “less reputable” SEO consultants will use to attempt to get a higher keyword density. However, this approach can actually hurt your page more than help it. If your keyword density is too high, that could automatically trigger the spam filter.
2. Convey in text what the image conveys visually
This is probably the most commonly mistaken aspect of the alt attribute. The alt attribute is not necessarily supposed to be a description of the image.
* Here are a few examplesIf you have an image that’s used as a button that leads the user to the “checkout” page, the proper alt text would not be “Checkout Button”. Instead, it should be “Go to checkout” or something relatively close to that.
* Say you have an image of a magnifying glass used as your “search button”, the corresponding alt text should read “Search” or “Submit Search” or “Submit Query”
* If you are using an image which is purely for “decoration” purposes, that image should either be used as a background image in CSS or you should add the alt attribute and leave it blank.
Like so: alt=” “
That’s as deep as I’m going to get into that particular subject, as it’s nearly never ending. I will however, point you in the direction of where you can find more detailed information if needed.
Google’s FAQ is chock full information about the matter.
Tip #5: Update Update Update!
Though it may seem like a rather monotonous job to update your site with new and fresh content frequently, this can dramatically increase your rankings. A steady flow of new and RELEVANT content can help to get your site noticed by the major search engines.
This doesn’t mean that you can post 10 blog entries per day about absolutely nothing and get a better pr score, you need to post content which is relevant to the overall scope of your site and that includes targeted popular keywords and phrases.
Keep in mind that this is only the “tip of the iceberg” so to speak. These are just simple, quick ways that you can help to improve your relevancy to the net. If you put into practice each of the tips mentioned above, you can expect to notice a difference in your ranking.
I’m not guaranteeing that you will be bumped to the top, but you should notice a difference no matter how small. Every little bit counts, right?