Improving Your SEO: A Search Engine Ranking Factors Guide

photo of a construction crane lowering a letter w to the groundThe most beautiful, well designed pool and spa websites don't do businesses much good if search engines are not finding them. Improving a site's search engine optimization, or SEO, starts with embedding key words in the site that accurately reflect the business's products and services. But the process gets a bit more involved, and whether you do this in-house or hire a firm to do it for your website, it's important to understand the steps involved in bettering SEO.

Below is a Search Engine Ranking Factors guide from Blue Fountain Media, which can help you appropriately place key words and choose title pages to ultimately improve your search-engine ranking.

On-Site Factors:

These are areas which are controlled by the website owner, which includes website content, links between pages, and domain information.  The idea is to see each web page on a website as a separate piece of content that has the chance to rank for a specific group of keywords. Too often, website owners attempt to optimize their entire website with the same keywords on every page.

Keyword Placement Optimization:

Domain name:

-- What: The root domain of your website, typically what is between “www” and “.com”. -- How: The domain should contain a keyword phrase being targeted. It is ideal to target multiple phrases with one common keyword. -- Tip: An addition of a keyword in the subdomain can help improve rankings as well. For example, rather than using the default www.example.com use widgets.example.com. Keywords in the URL are helpful as well (widgets.example.com/more-widgets/)

Anchor text:  -- What: Text used to link to a web page, found between the HTML , as well as away from a page to other web pages. -- How: Use descriptive text when linking to inside pages of a website and link to other related content from every web page using similarly descriptive text. -- Tip: Be consistent about what keywords are used to link to internal pages on your website.

Title tags:  -- What: The text between the HTML tag on every page. It is what shows up as the blue links in Google search results. -- How: Each page should have an accurate and descriptive title tag, which employs keyword phrases at the beginning of the title. -- Tip: Keep your title tags at no more than 70 characters long.</p> <p><strong>H1 tag:</strong></p> <p>-- What: The text contained within the HTML tag <H1>. -- How: There should be no more than one descriptive H1 tag on every page, placed toward the top of the HTML document, before more detailed text. --Tip: The H1 tag does not always have to be the most prominent text on the page, it can be styled to be a subtitle using CSS, while a shorter, more salesy title can be placed at the top of the page.</p> <p><strong>Keyword-rich intro text:</strong></p> <p>-- What: Text found within the first 50-100 words on an HTML page. -- How: Be sure that your content is not buried under a lot of redundant html content and that your page is coded in a way to keep your unique content at the top. -- Tip: Use CSS styling to keep your unique content above other HTML elements and use synonyms of keywords — not just the keywords themselves — throughout the web page.</p> <h3>Non-Keyword Factors:</h3> <p><strong>Website architecture:</strong> --A website should be built using an intelligent hierarchy of pages.</p> <p><strong>Having a lot of unique content:</strong> -- Web pages should have substantial unique content.</p> <p><strong>Freshness:</strong> --Content should be regularly published to stay up-to-date.</p> <p><strong>Domain age:</strong> --The age of a domain name registration is important. The older the better.</p> <h2>Off-Site Factors:</h2> <p>These are areas which are controlled to a lesser extent by the website owner and require outbound efforts to obtain quality links to a website.  The idea is simple: get links from other reputable, relevant sources. Obtain as many as you can by earning them, not by paying for them.</p> <p><strong>Anchor text and number of links from a diverse grouping of other websites:</strong> -- What: The text used to link to a web page. -- How: Get consistent, descriptive links to a web page from other websites. -- Tip: Be sure that links are “followed”. That means that links do not contain rel=”nofollow” within the <a> tag.</p> <p><strong>Authority of links from other websites:</strong> -- What: The clout that websites linking to a web page carry in terms of the number of links to their website and other various factors. --  How: Get links from high-authority websites, such as newspaper websites. -- Tip: Get links from “restricted access TLD extension” domain names such as .mil, .gov, .edu.</p>

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