Content is the king. Search engines love fresh and quality content, since that’s what the users want – more new things to read every day and every hour. When your site changes often – search engine crawlers come back more often as well. Of course by generating new content you raise the chance that more of your pages will be found.
Once you have the content generated, here is what you can do to have your site found more often by new visitors:
- Use Google Sitemaps to see how Google sees your site, when it was last updated, whether you have any problems on your site, etc. I’ve written an article on this topic: How to Improve Site’s Ranking with Google Sitemaps. You also want to provide a sitemap for your visitors.
- Get involved in communities relevant to the content of your site. Visit their forums and mailing lists, and help other people by answering their questions, posting links to your site if they contain information relevant to your replies. Usually you are allowed to have a signature, where you can link to your site. However be aware that more and more sites implement a new link attribute
rel="nofollow", which tells Google (MSN, Yahoo and other sites) to not count those links to your site’s ranking credit. This is to avoid comment spam. You can find the details here: Official Google Blog: Preventing comment spam.
- The head section of the document should include meta entries for
description. Though it’s been said that the keywords meta entry has little or no weight with Google, but is still useful with other search engines. Also make sure that the title of the document includes the most important keywords and phrases, as Google gives a heavy weight to those. The keywords need to be included in the H1 and H2 header entries, and also once in bold, once in italic and if possible in the URL.
- Spell check your content. Google doesn’t like when misspelled words are used, as it tries to auto-correct search words. Some sites use misspelled words to get more traffic to their site. e.g., "hign paying keywords" instead of "high paying keywords"
- Publish articles on other sites relevant to your expertise. Make sure that those articles link back to your site. I’m somewhat weary about submitting my articles to other sites, since then I end up with a duplication problem and a chance that a search engine would penalise duplicated content sites. Hopefully it somehow knows where the content has appeared in first place. But I don’t want to take chances. So may be submitting unique articles which don’t appear on my site is a much safer strategy.
- Sometimes your site competes with many other sites for the same keywords. Rather than optimising all of your site for the same keywords, try to find less competitive keywords and optimise some of your pages for those keywords. There are both commercial and free programs to help you do that.
- Learn from your competitors. Go to Google and search for the competing keywords, go to the first few sites with high page rank and analyse those sites, see what they have done differently than your site. Granted the site might be just very popular and linked from many other sites, but more often than not reading through the source code of the site can tip you off how to do better. You can find out which sites link to that site by searching Google for
link:yoursite.comand you may want to try to get your site listed on those sites.
- Since it’s not enough to have a high ranking for your front page (Google gives different page ranks to different pages), once your site is established you should try to get other sites to link to other sections of your site as well. For example if you have a big site and you can identify segments which are different from each, try to raise a page rank for the sub-directories corresponding to those sections.
- Have each page linking to several other pages on your site (crosslinking). That should be especially helpful for balancing the page ranking across different pages of your site, and of course it should help your visitors to find related content on your site.
- Try to include a few outbound links to high quality sites in every document. That indicates a quality connection between your document and others sites that Google already considers to be quality sites. When linking to those sites, try to include the important keywords in those links.
- Analyse your log files and see who refers to you the most. Try to find more similar sites. The referral information also reveals the keywords used to find your site. Often you find new keywords that you haven’t thought of when targeting your site. By using those newly discovered keywords you can create more content that targets the unexpected traffic even better.
- If you created a new site, do not put ads on it right away – Google marks those sites as suspected "ad farm" sites and won’t index them for a certain period of time (placing them into the sandbox). The common suggestion is to have your site up for one month with the content, before you can put ads in it. However there is no official word on that – so a shorter or longer period might be required.
- Google gives high ranking to sites that have inbound links from other sites. But not just any sites. Those need to be sites with high ranking. That means that you can’t just create a bunch of sites and have them link to each other and have your ranking go up. Neither submitting reciprocal links with link exchange sites will help. In fact it’ll make things worse, as Google doesn’t like "link farms". Sites linking to yours should also be relevant to your content.
- Including links to social bookmarking services, like reddit.com, digg.com, del.icio.us, etc. (there are hundreds of those now and their number is growing) will allow your visitors to submit your site’s links to those services in one click (e.g., see some of those at the end of this article). However most (all?) of those sites implement the link attribute
rel="nofollow", which won’t help your site’s ranking.
- Avoid duplicated content. There are many sites out there that spring up overnight, by copying content from other sites, buying pre-made sites, etc. Google detects those and penalises the guilty, by not indexing them. Instead of duplicating content, quote the relevant parts and provide a link to the original source. Also make sure that a single page on your site is linked to via a canonical URL, i.e. if you link to the same page as http://www.example.com/ and http://example.com/ some search engines consider that as duplicating content.
- Avoid keyword spamming. Overoptimising and overusing key terms or using irrelevant keywords on your pages will negatively affect your site’s ranking
- Do not include invisible text. One can create invisible text by choosing the font colour which is the same as of the background, putting the text at the very bottom of the page, so that the visitor won’t see it, and other ways. The idea is to include certain keywords multiply times to make the page appear more relevant. This technique doesn’t work anymore, since modern search engines catch that trick and punish sites using it.
- Search engines don’t like dynamic pages that contain query characters like "?". Try avoiding those. You could try using rewriting rules to map good URL names to those dynamic URLs behind the scenes. Google definitely doesn’t index pages containing "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs.
- Do the redirects correctly. If you must move a document to a new location, the old location has to issue a 301 redirect code, which tells the crawler that the page has moved permanently. Webmaster have tried to use a 302 redirect (temporarily moved) to fool the users and redirect them to a different page than the one indexed by the spider. Though I can see how the spider can be fooled to not do the redirect, when it spiders the pages. This is because spiders can be identified as such before the page is served to them. So one could serve different pages to visitors and search engine crawlers. But don’t do that.
- Don’t post too many links on a single page. Google suggests less than 100. When linking to other sites, avoid linking to sites with bad reputation. When you receive a request to link to another site, first go and check that the site is of a good quality and that it’s of a relevant content.
- Don’t use unauthorised computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate their Terms of Service. Therefore if you still plan to uses one, you’d have to check whether it conforms with the rules or not.
- When having other sites link to yours (inbound links), try to use different wordings for the anchored text. If it’s always the same wording, search engines may consider those links as an attempt to raise your page rank and your site’s page rank will be devalued.
- Several sources indicate that submitting your site via "Add URL" to various search engines might be a bad idea. The premise is that if spiders can’t find your site via other sites linking to you, then your site probably is not worthy their time. But this is only relevant for new sites.