There are no quick fixes for search engine optimisation (SEO) that give the long lasting results businesses need to flourish on the web. There are many companies that offer instant inclusion and even top ranking in the results for certain “chosen” keywords on Google, MSN, Yahoo and many other search engines. The simple fact is, you can’t pay for your site to permanently hit the top spot of the natural search results on any of the large mainstream search engines. This is because the search engines have a vested interest in insuring their results are unbiased, and only those websites that have quality meaningful content that relates to the users query should be towards to top of the pile. If the quality of search results becomes diluted the search engines lose face and pay-per-click customers.
How bad are portal and doorway pages?
One way search engines are hit by diluted results is through the use of “portal” or “doorway” pages. These are pages external to your own web site which are pumped full of keywords and phrases which in the short term shoot up the rankings. More often than not they redirect the user directly to your web site once the link from the search engine results is clicked. If they don’t redirect immediately they are normally designed to look like your existing site and when the user clicks any of the links on the “portal” or “doorway” page they are sent to your un-optimised web site. This means that your website never gets optimised. It will never climb the rankings on its own merit, and ultimately “portal” or “doorway” pages are not favoured in any way by the search engines because of the diluted results they offer. This is why companies that offer optimisation by “portal” or “doorway” pages have to continually add, update and change them to “try” to keep ahead of the search engines. Google have recommendations to all webmasters on their site that state:
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don’t send automated queries to Google.
- Don’t load pages with irrelevant words.
- Don’t create multiple pages, sub domains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
- Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
Pay per click
The customers of the search engines are those who subscribe to the “pay per click” adverts that are shown on the likes of Google and MSN as Sponsored Links or Adwords. These customers are mainly commercial ventures. It should be noted that just because you subscribe to “pay per click” your web site will not always be the one shown at the top. There will be many other companies vying for this position in the “pay per click” stakes.
The only long term way for your web site to perform well in the search engines is to continually optimise. It will take several months for the work carried out on any web site to be fully indexed. During this time it is extremely important to grow the site and add content. The top software engineers at Google and across the search world wholly recommend that your web site should be updated regularly, quality content should be added, the sites should be themed, and there should be excellent interrelation between pages so links within your site guide the browsing public through from topic to topic and help the user get the most out of their visit.
In addition to top quality, regularly updated content are links to you web site. These come from other sites that have naturally interlinking content with yours. This means encouraging other web sites to link to the content on yours, but with the caveat that there is a strong relationship between the content on the external site and the information they linking to. You shouldn’t have to pay for these links either. As mentioned, natural links are those that make sense and come from other sites because the content on your web site offers something extra to the information held on the referring site. Matt Cutts, top software engineer at Google, said “The best links are not paid”. He also said “Google does consider buying text links for PageRank purposes to be outside our quality guidelines” and that he “wouldn’t be surprised if search engines began to take stronger action against link buying in the near future”.
Talking of links, how many sites have you been to where the link simply says “Click here” and the text just before it says something like “our best offer on software…” The link “Click here” has no relevance to the content the user of the site will be taken to. Though it works fine, and there are times when it is the only option, it is far better and logical for the flow of the browsing experience to put the link with the text that describes the content of the destination page. In this case “best offer on software”. Making good use of this linking strategy will ensure the themes of your site are top notch and therefore, greatly enhance your search engine optimisation.
Where to start?
Before starting down the road to optimising your web site certain baselines should be ascertained.
- The structure of your existing web site needs to be reviewed to make sure it is compliant with the latest web standards.
- The advantage of employing the latest web standards is that good structure aids greatly the construction of good theme and topic relationships.
- Steer clear of totally Flash designed pages or navigation, they can’t be indexed by the search engines. Flash should be used to add sensible enhancements to your site.
- Making use of the correct HTML markup within pages will substantially optimise any existing pages.
- < title > is used to add a summarised title to the window of the browser. The content of this tag should be relevant to the content of the page and vice versa.
- The < h1 > tag for top level headings on a page should be used only once and should describe the content of the page.
- The remaining < h. > tags should be deployed in a structured manner. Starting with < h2 > for the next level of importance and working down to < h6 > if necessary.
- < p > tags should be used to break up paragraphs rather than multiple < br / > (line break) tags.
- < blockquote >, < ul >< li > (un-order lists like the one you reading at the moment), < ol >< li > (ordered lists), and many other tags are paramount to the correct structure of the written page.
- Not using the < table > and related tags to create the underlying structure of the page. Instead CSS should be used to separate content from structure. < table > is for tables not layout.
- Analyse what keywords / phrases to use in the optimisation of the web site.
- Review how you think the visitors to your site would search for it in a search engine.
- Think about what your business offers to customers and review the keywords used by competitors who have high ranking web sites.
- Try to find niche keywords / phrases that describe your business, products, services better than those of your competitors.
- Analyse the links to your competitors web site and see if any have a themed relationship with the content on your site.
- Look at trade related web sites which offer reviews of products and services and encourage them to put an article or well constructed link to the relevant page of your web site.
- Ask suppliers, distributors, partner companies to add defined links to your site.
- Add reciprocal links to the content on your site.
- Make sure these links are themed. If you do this your site will become an authoritative source of information with links to other related content on external sites.
- Add reciprocal links to the content on your site.
- Decide what tools you can use on your web site to help search engines index the pages.
- Blogging using the WordPress CMS system. Content added to a WordPress can be automatically pinged to the search engines.
- Sitemap – Google have a service called Sitemap which uses a specially constructed XML file to help track changes to your web site.
- Use RSS and XML feeds to syndicate content for users.
- Plan how you will regularly update your site using these tools or general web site developments.
Fix your web site
So how do you find the time to do all this optimisation. It’s so tempting to just jump on the first “quick fix” deal that offers “guaranteed high rankings”. Because the search engines hold the keys to what is indexed and ranked, no-one can actually “guarantee” the ranking of your web site. However, by doing things right you will be guaranteed the best opportunity to exploit the internet for the benefit of your business. The bottom line is, the quick fixes don’t fix your web site, and the money you spend on them will mean you are not investing in your own web presence. We strongly recommend you take the time to invest in the search engine optimisation of your own web site and reap the rewards this long term investment will bring. Check out our search engine optimisation page for details of our services for businesses of all sizes, call us now on 01730 300 351 or use the contact form at the top right of this page.