The next few topics I am going to cover involve actually making changes to the content of your site (the bit your visitors will actually see) so you really need to think if the increase in SERP will be to the detriment of your visitors' experience on your site. It is a fine balance so tread carefully.
Content & Formatting
Keyword density refers to the number of times your keyword or keywords appear in the text on your site. You should make sure that about 5% to 20% of your text is keywords. Be careful not to overcrowd your text with keywords because you might get penalised. Note that you should have the most important keywords at the beginning of the page so that they are given more weight. Remember that content is king, good quality content is always as important as other optimisation methods. Make sure your content is not painful for a visitor to read otherwise all that effort you put in to getting them to the site will result in nothing but a bad company image. At a certain point keyword density turns into ‘Black Hat’ SEO which the search engines will eventually track down and your site will just be blocked. Try to ensure that your content meets at least one of the following criteria:
You probably use a visible title on the screen (in HTML this will be surrounded by h1 /h1 tags), if you don’t then you are missing an easy win. Search engines look for these areas and give them more relevance that the rest of the text on your site. Again don’t overdo it, One per page is actually optimum, then move to h2 and h3 etc for the rest of the page. You should only use one h1 tag per page but the other heading tags (h2 to h6) can be used as often as you wish. The format of the headings is also important, headings should be in bold, maybe even a different colour to help them stand out from the body text.
Links & Image Attributes
Links are another target for optimisation. Search engines look at the links in pages so you should try to use your keywords in links to your pages and to external sites. One way of link building is by exchanging links with other websites, i.e. you put a link to another site on your website and they link to your site on theirs. You should only link to websites that are related to your own, avoid link farms as they will have a negative effect on your SERP position.
Ensure that all images in your pages contain an alt attribute and that it contains your keywords. Search engines like pages that contain this information as not all browsers will display the images (such as screen readers) and therefore the alt text is important to give meaning to the content.
Fresh Content & Social Marketing
In order to improve your website's SERP position or maintain a good position it is important to keep adding fresh content onto the site. The most effective way to do this is by adding a news section or a blog onto the site that should be updated at least every week. Case studies and customer testimonials are further ways of adding new content and are particularly relevant and insightful for your readers. A regularly updated website is considered to be relevant and up to date by the search engines so give it serious consideration and try and put together a plan of content that you can add to the site on an ongoing basis. Guest writers and blog posts from industry partners are a way to give your content more diversity whilst keeping it relevant to your customer base.
Word of mouth is now a more effective marketing medium than ever before. Of course people no longer actually use their voices, instead people share experiences and web content via social networking channels. To maximise the potential benefit of social marketing make sure you include links to the popular platforms somewhere on your pages so that it is easy for people to share your content. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and many others provide the necessary code so that you can add their buttons onto your pages and create a buzz around your brand.
HTML v Text
The last thing to look at is a hybrid, search engines love text and hate repetition. One measure of the amount of text on your site is by comparing it to the amount of HTML code to the amount of human readable text. Sites with lots of code are not what the search engines are looking for. The other thing that has recently become a huge problem since Google updated their algorithms is repetition, do not copy anyone else’s text and do not repeat your own.
What to Avoid
In addition to the list of optimisations you should look to include in your web pages there are a number of things you should try to avoid or keep to a minimum:
That’s it for this part of the series, next time I will cover some of the more time consuming parts of SEO and improving your SERP that people see as more difficult but are mostly easy to achieve.