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Search Engine Optimisation Part 3 Optimise Your Website Technically

April 17th, 2012 - Posted by Jamie Thomson, Managing Director


Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a dog eat dog world, everyone wants good SERP rank, here are a few basic principles of how to optimise your Web to Print site for SEO using 'white hat' techniques. 

First, bear in mind that there is no SEO silver bullet, no quick fix. Achieving good SERP rank takes time and effort, it's a bit like owning a dog; lots of people own dogs but to win top prize at the dog show you have to do more than just feed and walk the dog, you have to make the dog look special, behave well and maybe teach it a few things, the good news about SEO is that an old dog can learn new tricks.

In this post I am going to follow up with some of the basics of improving your SERP, think of this as the housekeeping you should do almost as soon as you have finished reading this. SEO is hard and continuous work but just getting the basics right can give you improvements straight away. 

Before we begin I need to talk about 2 terms often thrown around in Search Engine Optimisation world, ‘White Hat’ and ‘Black Hat” SEO. White hat SEO is the use of techniques that are recommended by the search engines as part of good website design. White hat techniques can produce results that will last a long time, for example providing good quality, well presented page content. 

Black hat SEO is the use of techniques that the search engines do not approve of. Also known as spamdexing, it involves deceiving the search engines and may generate excellent short term results but may result in a site being removed from search listings once the search engines discover it. There are many ways to engage in black hat SEO, here is a list of the most common techniques so that you know what to avoid:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Hidden or invisible text
  • Meta-tag stuffing
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraper sites
  • Article spinning
  • Link building software
  • Link farms
  • Hidden links
  • Spam blogs
  • Page hijacking
  • Cookie stuffing
  • Mirror websites
  • URL redirection
  • Cloaking
All the techniques below are currently considered White Hat but SEO is a moving target, White Hat can in some circumstances become Black Hat (normally this is not an instant change but a gradual movement).
Optimise Your Website
First you are trying to improve your SERP for a keyword or keywords, not your company name (if people know your company name they will find what they are looking for, try searching for RedTie). It is about finding potential customers that want what you have to offer but do not know you. 
With that in mind we are going to change some of the priorities of the site more towards the keywords you are after rather than your company name (unless you sell Calendars and are called Calendars Inc!). 
To make my examples easier to explain I am going to use an example set of keywords as ‘Print On Demand and the first thing you can do is rename your pages to include your keywords. So instead of products.html you could go to Print-on-Demand-Products.html. (Don’t do this to your index.html or you might make your whole site unavailable and update all your links if you have made changes to any of your page names).
The next is to use the title of your webpage, the bit your browser puts in the tab in on modern browsers. I am guessing yours will be your company name first, but it should be Print on Demand | Company Name (it is all set in the title tags within your html if you are wondering). You get bonus points if every page on your website has a different title too.
Next we need to move on to a few of the meta tags, these are not displayed to your visitors (or at least not the human ones), they are to give information about your web pages to the search engines.
Here are a few that I have picked out that you should and in the first case should not concentrate on:
Meta – Keywords: This was abused in the past and has no relevance at all in terms or SEO or your SERP, we leave these completely blank now on RedTie, you can add them if you like but they are doing nothing. 
Meta – Description - you should put an overview of the page contents between 70 to 160 characters in length that makes further reference to your target search phrase.
Meta – Robots / Googlebot / Cache-Control – These are three more that you should look at. It is beyond the scope of this summary to go through them individually but Google is your friend here.
Next time we will look at how to improve website content to improve the user experience and help your SEO.