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Juggernaut Technology Pty Ltd

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University Drive, Mt Helen Victoria

PO Box 175, Buninyong Victoria 3357

Tel: 03 5309 0494   Fax: 03 5309 0495
Email: ra@juggernaut.com.au

Improving a site's search engine ranking

Achieving a first page result for a competitive word or phrase can be a formidable task. But take heart! It is generally quite easy to improve a site's search engine ranking and even to get onto the first page for some less-competitive but still well-targeted phrases.

If you don't want to do all this yourself, we offer a well-priced search engine optimisation service.

Procedure for increasing Google rankings

With Google it is best to try to increase the ranking of selected pages of your site. The home page is the easiest and most important one to improve, but the same procedure can be followed for internal pages with specific content. Just ensure that the whole process is focused on the content of that internal page, not the content of the site as a whole.

1. Identify search terms which, when entered, should result in a match for your page. Do not include the company name or product name in this list as they are fairly unique and take care of themselves. Instead focus on generic words which people would use when trying to locate your product or service. Start with a list of about 25 words and phrases then identify the ten most important words and the three most important phrases. If there are more than three critical phrases or ten very important words you need to split the list into sections and optimise a page or a site for each group. These keywords may be analysed using a keyword research tool to make sure no obvious synonyms have been missed and to help prioritise the words according to search popularity, but the context of the site being optimised needs to be kept in mind to filter out bogus suggestions.

2. Re-write the page title to incorporate the three most important of those search phrases. This text should read well as a site title if used as a heading of a search engine result or placed in a list of bookmarks. Limit the title to 67 characters (before HTML encoding, if required), 70 is the hard limit. If you go over 67, monitor your site in Google to confirm that it is not being truncated (with '...' at the end of your listing). Do not repeat words. Make sure all the words used are present in the page content. If you have extra space, it's probably best to make the title more appealing to users than trying to cram in some extra keywords. This is because the page title is shown prominently in the search engine results and when a user is scanning the page you want them to notice your listing. Make sure each page title on the site is unique and representative of the content of the page.

3. Write a "description" tag that incorporates the three most important phrases and the ten most important words. This should also read as a well-written English language sentence describing the site - it will be displayed by Google as the page summary if it contains all search terms. Limit the description to 160 characters. Make sure each description tag on the site is unique and representative of the content of the page.

4. Compile a keywords tag using all the identified search terms and phrases. Add other words that seem relevant. Limit is 250 characters including a "," separating words. Use only words which appear on the page. Google does not use the keywords tag, but many other search engines do, so this is still worth doing but perhaps not worth labouring over.

5. Incorporate the top 3 search phrases into the first sentence on the page. The page title should be a good starting point for this text. Design the page so that this text appears early in the HTML and so that this is an HTML H1 heading - definitely larger than the body copy and preferably both bigger and bold. Design the page so that it has a sensible heading structure with the main search phrases in the H1 heading then repeated in H2 headings down the page.

6. Incorporate the top 10 search terms into the first paragraph or two in the page. The top 10 search terms should be repeated twice in the first 250 characters, three times is a hard limit. The description tag should make an excellent starting point for these opening paragraphs.

7. Incorporate the remaining search terms into the balance of the page. Do not repeat any of the identified keywords more than six times per 250-300 words of copy. Also try to include the keywords twice each in alt text on images. Keyword density of the highest-priority keywords in all the text visible on the page should be 2-3%. With the addition of the keywords appearing meta and alt tags this will give an overall keyword density of 5-6%. It has been reported that any higher value may be penalised by Google.

8. Spell check and grammar check all text on the site. Poor spelling and grammar are indicative of a poor quality site and the site's ranking will reflect that.

9. Go back to points 2 to 7 and make sure that only words which appear on the page are present in the title, keywords and description tags. Double-check the keyword density of the top 10 words and make sure it's between 2% and 3%.

Congratulations! That will probably get your site as far up the rankings as you can get without throwing serious resources at the problem. But if you're still not satisfied, there are some more things you can do with the page content.

10. Make a site map with descriptive text links to all the pages in the site. But don't have more than 100 links on a page.

11. Use descriptive alt text on all images, loading them up with extra keywords. But this text counts towards keyword density, so don't go overboard.

12. Use especially good alt text on link images. Use the top three key phrases or the title for the target page. But remember that this text is relied upon by some users, so make it usable. And don't dilute the keywords on the current page too much!

13. Don't worry about rule 13... it brings bad luck.

14. If you can stand to have tooltips pop up all over your site (hold your cursor over the link above for an example), use title attributes on all links. Use the top three keywords or the page title for for the target page but again, don't dilute the keywords on the current page too much!

15. Within reason, work the keywords for a page into the URL. This includes both the domain name, directory name and filename.

16. Try to avoid query strings and if you can't never, ever use the string &id=. Google does not index pages with this in the URL. Google also favours pages with only one or two parameters in the query string.

17. Set up a robots.txt file to make sure robots don't try to enter your shopping cart and to keep them out of any infinite areas of the site (calendars commonly contain an infinite number of "next" and "prev" links). If you don't have dynamic content, create a robots.txt which allows global access.

18. Set up a Google Sitemap for the site.

19. Does it go without saying, make sure there are no syntax errors in the HTML that would prevent a robot from fully indexing the page.

20. Redesign your site to be search engine friendly. Use styled text instead of images for navigation. Use text instead of images for headings. Don't use Flash for any content - use it only instead of images to spice the site up. Make sure the site works without Javascript, images and plugins. Don't use frames.

21. Monitor the Googlebot via Google Webmasters to make sure it's accessing your whole site and not generating any errors. Fix any problems promptly!

Wow! Now you've built the perfect page, but you still aren't done! For improving your Google ranking there is one critical and ongoing task still to be done. Google ranking is largely determined by how good other pages think your page is. So you need other sites to link to your page. And the better-respected the linking site is, the greater the weight it's link will carry.

22. You can easily generate some incoming links by listing with industry directories and swapping links with other similar sites. The links should contain the three most important phrases and as many keywords as the directory will accept in both the text of the link and the title tags (we're not concerned with the appearance of tooltip popups on someone else's site). Not all incoming links should use identical text, change it around a bit. Be careful when buying ads on third-party sites. To pass on any benefit to your site the ad must link directly to your site, not via a click-through counter. Google is actively trying to eliminate the ranking benefits passed on by paid links.

23. Make sure you don't link to a place which is penalised by Google. Some operators who offer SEO services run link farms and Google penalises sites which link to these places. Before adding a link to an external site, enter the target URL's page title into Google. If you don't see the page in the results then assume Google has classified that site as an area of ill-repute. When adding external links to your site, consider adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the link tag. But not, obviously, when the link is intended to increase the pagerank of another of your sites.

24. (optional) Register a couple of other domains and link them to your main page. The link structure should be the same as in point 22. These other sites can be optimised for different key words and phrases and a link to the main page will boost it's rank a little. If you own more than a couple of sites that point to your home page, arrange to have them hosted at a different IP address or in a different data centre.

25. Make sure that all incoming links point to the "optimised" page at the exact same URL. If this is the home page of the site there should be no splash screen on the site and no frames.

26. Make sure every page on your whole site is only published via one URL. Don't have http://www.example.com/ and http://www.example.com/index.html both published (have /index.html redirect to /). Don't have the same site published under different domains. Don't have http://www.example.com/ and http://example.com/. Replace one domain with a HTTP-level 301 permanent redirect to the other site.

27. Participate in online discussions. Register for forums, facebook, twitter, run a blog and so on. Post quality information regarding the subject matter of your site. Place a link to your site in your profile and in your signature. Don't just post your links... post high quality replies which are relevant to both the discussion and your site. Post a new article to your blog twice a week, keeping the quality of information as high as you can. Hook the blog into relevant indices and syndications. You want to become recognised as an authority within the communities on the subject matter of your site.

28. And finally keep your fingers crossed!

And remember, if you prefer, you can benefit from our search engine optimisation experience with our tailored SEO service.

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