7 ways to improve your website and get more traffic

increasewebsitetrafficIn this post I will identify 7 ways you can improve your website’s Google Pagerank.

Pagerank is how important Google thinks your site is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being less important sites and 10 being the most important sites. There are currently less than a few hundred sites on the web with a Pagerank of 10. For those of you who like Math and large formulas don’t make you cross eyed you can find out more about Pagerank at Wikipedia.

My 7 ways to improve your website and get more traffic are:

  1. Compliance with standards
  2. Website HTML Structure
  3. URL’s
  4. Meta Data
  5. Content and Keywords
  6. Back Links
  7. Using External Tools

1. Compliance with standards

The Google bot that indexes your site will have trouble reading and properly indexing it’s content if you have poorly written HTML. A missing doctype declaration, tags that are not closed properly or tag attributes that are incorrect are just 3 common issues.

Having a standards compliant site will also help to make your site look the same a variety of browsers.

2. Website HTML Structure

When looking at your page, Google tends to think that the content at the top of the HTML is more important than the stuff at the bottom. If your site has a lot of content in the header and maybe the menu in the left column, then your content is in the right column, chances are you code is written in that order as well. See my example below

<body>
    <div id="header">
        Here is all my header HTML
    </div>

    <div id="leftcolumn">
        Here is all my left menu HTML
    </div>

    <div id="rightcolumn">
        Here is my main content
    </div>
</body>

Now Google will be reading your HTML and be thinking that the content in the header and leftcolumn divs contain the most important info on your page because it’s at the top. As you can see this isn’t correct.

What you should be doing is something like this

<body>
    <div id="rightcolumn">
        Here is my main content
    </div>

    <div id="leftcolumn">
        Here is all my left menu HTML
    </div>

    <div id="header">
        Here is all my header HTML
    </div>        
</body>

Now when reading your HTML, Google sees all your nice page content at the top and treats it with the authority that you want it to have.

All you need to do is to learn how to make this HTML look right on your site with a little css positioning.

3. URL’s

Let me ask you what makes more sense to you?

a. http://mywebsite.com/default.aspx?pid=124

or

b. http://mywebsite.com/puppies/puppies-are-cute

I’m guessing you prefer option b. Well so does Google. Google will still be able to index the content exactly the same way. With option b however, your URL will be a lot easier for people to read and remember and you will gain the added SEO benefit of having the keywords your targeting in the URL. This is of course assuming this page is about puppies and not about fighter jets!!

The second point about URL’s is that you should only ever have 1 URL per page. A lot of content management systems are very bad for this problem. Google sees

http://www.mywebsite.com

http://mywebsite.com

http://www.mywebsite.com/default.aspx

http://www.MyWebsite.com

as 4 separate URL’s even though they may point to the same page on your site.

This means that if 4 people link to your page using each one of these URL’s you lose the benefit of having 4 links to your home page. Google thinks you have 1 incoming link to 4 different URL’s and this can be detrimental to your PageRank.

You should always put thought into the URL structure of your site and utilise the tools that are available for the particular technology that your using. For ASP.NET or ASP.NET MVC or really anything that runs on IIS 7.0/7.5 you can the URL rewrite module. For DotNetNuke you can use the iFinity URL Master module, Kentico has this feature built in and for WordPress you can use the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin. You will find a link to these tools in the resources at the bottom of this post.

4. Metadata

The Metadata fields Title, Keywords and Description play an important role in the SEO of your pages. The Title and Description are generally of more importance than the keyword field. Anyone can stuff a long list of keywords into the keywords metadata field. Crafting a Title and Description takes a little more thought.

The Title is shown as the result heading in a Google search result. It is also used in the title bar of the browser and usually what’s used as the title if a user bookmarks the sites.

The Description is less often seen by the user but is often used by Google as the summary shown in search engine results

If we do a search for “Expeed Web Hosting” and look at the result for the Expeed site you’ll see the following

image

You can see the Title as “ASP.NET Web Hosting, Virtual Servers, Software Solutions and Surveys”

The Description is “Expeed Technology is a premier provider of ASP.NET Web Hosting……………..”

Properly utilising your pages targeted keyword in the Title, Description and to a lesser extent the Keywords metadata fields will go a long to helping you improve your search engine results.

When using tools like Market Samurai you will see that having your keywords listed in the Title and Description are two of the key factors in determining the ranking of your site against others.

The screenshot from Market Samurai below shows the analysis of keywords in various parts of your page. I will talk more about keywords further on in this post.

image

5. Content and Keywords

On the web, content is King and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. You can have the best looking site in the world, but without good content, you won’t get anywhere. Content serves 3 key purposes.

  1. For search engines like Google to index
  2. For people to read once they get to your site
  3. For people to create links to when they’ve found your site and enjoyed your content.

You can have the prettiest site in the world but you have poor content in terms of both quantity and quality your site will suffer.

The art of writing good content which is keyword rich is just that, an art. It takes a long time to master. I am by no means a master but I am continually on the lookout for tips and tricks to help me learn.

The purpose of your site will have a big impact on the style of your content. A personal blog will be a lot more of a relaxed style than a corporate website. One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever got about writing for my blog is to write how you speak. It’s a lot less formal and gives the reader the feeling that your talking directly to them. I hope you feel that way reading this. Open-mouthed smile

You should decide in advance what keywords you will target for both your site as a whole and for each page. If your site was selling shoes then you would incorporate more general terms like shoes and footwear into each page and then more specific keywords or keyword phrases into each specific page. For instance your page selling hiking shoes would have different keywords to your page selling running shoes.

You should aim to provide meaningful keyword rich content on your site and add new content regularly. If two sites had similar content but one was consistently adding new content then it will quickly rank higher than the other. I am often asked “I have all my businesses product details listed on my site and they doesn’t change, so how do I add new content regularly?”

There are many ways of adding fresh new content to a site.

  • Add a blog to your site talking about your industry
  • Ask customers for testimonials to add to your product pages.
  • Ask customers to review your products and create a reviews page.
  • Record some how to videos showing customers how to use your products or services
  • Run a competition on your site
  • Create an email newsletter to send to your customers and add the archive newsletters to your site

But ALWAYS be mindful to include your targeted keywords in your content. If your not sure of the best way to do that, cheat!! Do a Google search for your keywords and review the search results that rank above yours. Have a look at what content they have and how they’ve written and presented it. I’m not recommending stealing or plagiarising other people work. What I do recommend is to model the concepts that they use to achieve what you want to achieve.

6. Back Links

The content on your site will help Google to determine when to show your site in search results, but there is another factor that determines primarily where in the ranking that your site is shown. If you ask 95% of website owners where they want their site to show up in Google results, they’ll say on the first page. The other 5% (including me) say #1.

In order to get to #1 in search results or even on the first page, Google needs to see you as an authority on the subject that the user is searching for.

The PageRank algorithm used by Google says in simple terms that if Site A has 10 sites linking to it then it is more important than Site B that has 2 sites linking to it. In practice it is a LOT more complicated than that but that is the general idea.

So to be seen as an authority, your sites needs to build links from other sites back to your site.

It’s not just the quantity of the back links that’s important but the quality as well. Take the following example.

  • Site A and B are about Insurance
  • Site A has 10 incoming links from sites about insurance
  • Site B has 15 incoming links from sites about landscaping

Even though Site B has more incoming links, Site A will rank better for searches about insurance because Site B’s links are not related to insurance.

The PageRank of the incoming links is also an important factor to determine the quality of the links. Take the following example.

  • Site A and B both have 10 links to their site
  • Site A has 2 incoming links from PR 5 sites, 2 links from PR4 sites and 6 links from PR1 sites
  • Site B has 8 incoming links from PR2 sites and 2 links from PR0 sites

In this example Site A will receive better search rankings because the sites that link to that site are seen as more important as they have a higher PageRank.

The link text that is used in the back link to your site also important. You will be more benefit from a link that uses your keywords than a link that doesn’t use your keywords

The topic of gaining links to your site is huge topic and one that I’ll expand on in future posts.

7. Using External Tools

There are 3 main tools I use for my day to day website management.

  1. Website Statistics
  2. Google Webmaster tools
  3. Market Samurai

There are number of options for you to choose for website stats. Your hosting provider should provide a tool like Smarterstats or AWStats for you to use. This will show you what visitors you’re getting and where they’re coming from. These tools will usually read your websites log files and be very accurate. Another very common tool is Google Analytics which is a free service from Google. Google Analytics works using a small JavaScript script added to each of your pages.

Google Webmaster tools are a must if your interested in optimising your site. The Webmaster tools show you information about keyword density, search queries, backlinks to your site, indexed pages, crawling errors and give you suggestions to improve your HTML.

Market Samurai is a recent addition to my list of tools but one I used A LOT. It has a huge array of features for tracking SEO and performing keyword analysis. You can do research on keywords, track your ranking over time for your keywords, analyse competitors sites and see info about their SEO. You can find domains, research monetization for your site, find content and help you build backlinks.

You will find a link to the Market Samurai site in the resources at the bottom of this post.

In summary, I have listed 7 of the cornerstone aspects of search engine optimisation. This is by no means a definitive list, and each topic is much more complex than the brief overview that I’ve given. Please make sure you leave a comment to let me know what you thought of the post and let me know which aspects you’d like me to go into more detail.

 

Post Resources

iFinity URL Master

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Market Samurai