optimizing your web pages for higher search engine rankings
Optimizing your web pages and your website structure for higher rankings in the search engines is no rocket science. However, a well optimized website doesn´t guarantee high rankings, as there are way more factors that influence the rankings of your webpages. This article talks about the on-page and on-site factors in search engine optimization.
I recommend you read Google´s webmaster guidelines first. This short document tells you how you should structure your site and gives you tips about what Google considers quality content and also the kinds of techniques that you should avoid.
Now, let´s talk a bit more about how you can exactly optimize a single webpage to rank well for a given search term and let´s take this page as a practical example. To optimize this page to rank well for the keyphrase “higher search engine ranking“, quite a popular and very competitive keyphrase, I would do the following:
1) Include the keyphrase within the HTML title tag (see page title in your browser) and in the meta keywords tag. In the meta description tag I would only try to include secondary (similar) keywords, because repeating your main keyphrase too often may cause the search engines to think you´re trying to trick them. Over-optimization can actually hurt your webpage´s rankings.
<meta name=”keywords” content=”higher search engine ranking, rankings, optimization, seo, meta keywords tag, optimize”>
<meta name=”description” content=”This article explains how you can optimize your webpages for better search engine rankings.”>
2) Include the keyphrase in the h1 heading ( see above )
3) Include the main keyphrase 2-5 times in the webpage content, depending on the total amount of content. If it makes sense, try to include it in bold text or in subheadings (h2, h3). But you shouldn´t repeat the same keyphrase too often, otherwise it could be a spam signal and the search engines could drop your webpage´s ranking.
That´s as far as the content goes. Another important part is that the source code of your webpages is clean, valid and not cluttered with lots of style tags. There should be more real content in the source code than HTML tags, style attributes and other codes. Therefore I recommend that you use CSS and define all style rules in an external stylesheet.
Finally, try to place the most important content (starting with the h1 heading and the text below it) as high as possible in the source code. Website layouts with a sidebar (menu) on the left have the problem that the content of the sidebar ( links, ads, etc … ) comes first inside the source code, thus watering down your actual webpage content. So, from the SEO point of view, a sidebar on the right would be better.
Fortunately, there´s a design trick with HTML tables that allows you to move the left sidebar below the main content inside the source code in order to optimize your webpage layout for a higher search engine ranking. I will explain this briefly in the next article, but if you study the simple website templates included in my HTML tutorial, you will quickly find it out.
P.S.: if you try to find this page in the search results for “higher search engine ranking”, you will probably get disappointed. It´s a very competitive term with currently over 60 million results and it takes more than on-page optimization to achieve top rankings for a webpage for such a keyphrase.
To learn more about the off-page factors in search engine optimization, I recommend you download and study this free SEO book (right click and choose “save target as” to download the book).