26/04/11

By Malcolm Graham, @malcolmcgraham, www.limetreeonline.com


There are many reasons why you would want to optimise your website; the main reason would be to get more traffic and hits on your website through Search Engines. From there you would hopefully generate more sales or advertising revenue. This is more commonly known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

There are 2 parts to optimising your website. The first is using On-site optimisation; this requires you to have proper Titles, Descriptions, Keywords and Headers on your website. The second is Off-site optimisation; this is usually in the form of links into your website from other websites. There are plenty of methods to do this which we will explore in this article.

Onsite Optimisation

Web Page Titles:
Your website needs to have good titles because this is what users will see when they find your website on Search Engines such as Google. An example of this is in the image above. The Blue text is the Title of the page that the search result links to. You can see why it is important to have a good title because it is the first thing the user sees when looking for a website. The recommended length for a title is 60-70 characters long.

Description:
This is also known as a Meta Description. The description does not appear on your website but it is seen by the Search Engines and displayed on the search result as seen in the image above. The text just below the Title is the Description. The recommended length is of the description is between 150-200 characters.

Keywords:
These are words or phrases that best describe your website to the user who is searching for your website. For example, a website of a Website Design Agency will have keywords like ‘Website Design’, ‘Web Development’ or ‘Website Design Agency’. These keywords are best placed in your website Titles, Descriptions, Headers and Content. But too many or too few keywords can have a negative effect on your website. You will need to find a balance.


Header Tags:
These are usually the Titles or Subtitles that you have on your website. Make sure they are used properly on the website as Search Engines take these into account more than normal content. However, this does not mean you can build your site fully out of headers! Moderation and smart placement of keywords within the headers is the key to this.

Off-site Optimisation

The main backbone of off-site optimisation is Link Building. Links or Back-links are snips of text that when clicked on load your website. Usually the anchor text used for the link is one of your keywords. For example, the link www.limetreeonline.com has no anchor text; this link Web Design Quote has an anchor text and links to the same website. The best links to use are the ones with an Anchor Text.

There are many methods of getting links to your website. Among them are using Social Media, getting links from Blogs, Forums, Directories and Articles.

Social Media:
This includes websites like Facebook and Twitter which are classified as Social Networks but also websites like Digg, Delicious, Squidoo and Hubpages. These sites allow you to add links to your websites and if your website is interesting, you can get a lot of traffic from the above websites.

Blogs:
There are 3 ways of getting links from blogs. First is to get a direct link from the owner of the blog. You can buy it from them as a form of advertising or do a link exchange where you put the owner’s link on your site in exchange for a link on their website. Second is to write a guest article and place a link to your website in the article or in the credits. Third is to post comments on the blog and put your link in the comment.

Forums: These are a great place to get links to your website because they are frequently indexed by search engines due to their large amount of daily content. The majority of forums allow links to be placed in signatures or in the forums content. But they are very much against spam like content. So when participating in these forums, make sure you have something to contribute to the community.

Directories:
Links from directories are not as highly valued as direct links from websites or blogs or forums. But these links are fairly easy to get because all you need to do is register and submit a link. The majority of the links you submit will get accepted and you will see some increase in traffic. This is a good starting point if you need some quick and easy links.

Articles or Press releases:
This method can give you a high return on traffic if done well. A good article will generate a lot of interest and readers will tell others to read the article you have written. If you have a link to your website in the article or in the credits, you will traffic from the readers who are looking for more articles. The only downside is the time taken to write an article. You may spend 10 hours writing 10 articles and only one may attract readers or in the worst case none. Therefore, use this method with caution as you could be wasting your time.


Paid Links:
This method is the most common method used when websites want to gain links to optimise their website for search engines. The idea is you approach websites who are open to selling space for links and you buy them at a certain price for a few months or a year. This method nets you the most traffic and hits because this gives your site a boost in the search engine rankings. However, this method is frowned upon by search engines and if found that your site is purchasing links from other websites, you may be penalised severely or even banned by the search engines.

Therefore, if you do decide to buy links, do it discretely by not buying more than 10 links a day and not too frequently. Please ignore anyone that makes a statement such as 'buying paid links is illegal'. Search Engines themselves are owners of the major link buying websites! People making statements like 'buying paid links is illegal' are unfortunately common. Do not work with people who make statements similar to 'buying paid links is illegal'. They do not understand SEO or how search engines work. They need to get real.

Conclusion

Optimising your website is fast becoming a requirement and no longer an optional thing. You will need to optimise your website or be in danger of being buried under all the other competing websites who are optimising their website. Most website owners decide to optimise their website themselves and some are successful, but most are unable to do so due to time constraints and other commitments. This is when you need to employ an agency that specialises in search engine optimisation and properly understands how to get sites to the top of Google. Also, try to find an agency that will work on a performance based contract, such as LimeTree – www.limetreeonline.com