8 Must do’s to Improve your SEO Rankings

If you’ve published it people will see it. NO. Not true.

Tons of data is generated on the World Wide Web everyday. To make sure whether people are reaching it you need to know if your blog/site is being indexed properly by search engines and are showing up in a decent position there. This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.

Here is a list of techniques you can implement to increase the SEO score of your website:


1. Keywords as Links

Inserting keywords in your page URLs, page titles, heading tags ( <h1> to <h6>, with <h1> being the most important ) and image alt text is a great idea to boost your SEO score. And if you haven’t started it yet, it’s a good time to start now. That being said, one thing that search engine optimizers don’t pay much focus on is creating links out of keywords. This is an important aspect of SEO and can significantly improve your SEO rankings if performed in the right manner.


The above picture is a snippet on an article from Searchengineland.com about Google App Indexing. Here ‘App Indexing & Deep Links’ is created as a link (with a do-follow attribute), and rightly so because it’s a closely related keyword for the article which points to another article on App Indexing and Deep Links. This way when search engines crawl the page they’ll pass relevant link-juice to the linked-to page, which in-turn will positively affect your SEO score and will greatly improve internal linking of your website.


2. Page Load Speed

Besides creating valuable & quality content for your readers, a good site speed is important to gain more traffic. Site speed directly affects your user engagement, bounce rate, sessions per visit & your overall SEO score. 2 – 2.5 seconds. Yes, that’s the optimum time your site should load in. Optimize the following on your site to improve its speed:

a. HTTP Requests – Minimize the number of requests your browser makes to render the site by clubbing all the styles in one external stylesheet. This will reduce the size of your code, make it look neat and significantly improve site performance.

b. Compress Images – Images account for the most bytes downloaded when a page loads in a browser. Always include ‘height’ and the ‘width’ attribute. This way the browser won’t need to reload your page hundreds of times to determine the correct sizes and wrap text around them. Use JPEG formats as majority of the browsers support them. Crop your images to right size according to your page.

c. Browser Caching – Browsers need to download several scripts, stylesheets & other elements when you visit a page for the first time. Enabling browser caching will save all of them, as a result of which your browser won’t need to make several HTTP requests in subsequent visits.

Here’s Google’s official announcement of using site speed as a factor in search ranking. While Matt Cutts has clearly stated that improving site speed affects less than 1% of the search queries, it’s not completely irrelevant. Let us not forget that any business exists because people need its services, and that’s what your focus should be on – improving user experience at every step. Also, when SEO experts like us are trying to crack every little ranking factor, why leave out site speed then? Who knows Google’s next algorithm update gives site speed a much higher weightage. You’ll be thanking us then!

In case you want to dive in deeper with Page Speed analysis, read insights from this Moz blog on page speed.


3. Perfect Your Title & Meta Description

More than 70% of a website’s traffic is generated from the search engines. This makes it essential to optimize your page titles & meta descriptions as crisp as you can. The Title length should optimally be of 45 – 55 characters & should include the most generic and most searched keywords for your business. Thorough research must be conducted before deciding on this. The most vital keywords must be placed first, followed by other keywords & should be separated by vertical lines. Don’t use more than 2-3 keywords in it. Next, there should be a good sync between the page content and the page title. For eg., If your article talks about gaining muscle mass though proteins then don’t make  the title as “best foods for exercising” or similar. Keep it to the point.

Similarly, the ideal length of meta descriptions should be around 140 – 150 characters and should accurately describe your page content in a nutshell. Try to use at least 2 – 4 keywords in it. You’ve got to get this right as it’s the first point of contact between users and your website. It’s where a keen user decides whether to visit your site or not. So make sure you kickass!


4. Blogging, YES!

Talking about your business is a good practice for user engagement and SEO, both. Good marketers always share ideas & articles with their audience which are relevant and rich in information. Doesn’t matter if there 100 blogs already on the same topic out there, users have come your site for a reason. They look up to your brand.

Keep keyword densities of a few long-tail keywords up to 1.5 – 3 % and make sure you use synonyms and close variants of those keywords as well. This increases the relevancy of your article in the eyes of the search engines. Some golden sources to discover most close variants of your keywords are from the Google’s Keyword Planner tool, reading forums on your industry niche and by keeping an eye on Subreddits on Reddit regarding your topic. Very few people deeply research on these sources for keywords.

All of this of course doesn’t mean you stray from the actual objective of writing your blog – which is to interact with your users and share useful content with them.


5. Targeting Local Keywords

Location specific targeting has become a vital part of SEO in the past few years. According to SE Leads, “43% of internet searches performed today use a local keyword and 86% of those searches convert to a phone call or visit to the physical location”. This trend is only going to increase in the future.

For example, a Google search for “fitness gyms” displays over 3 million search results, whereas a keyword search for ‘fitness gyms in Bangalore’ shows only 723K website pages. This implies that there is a lot less competition for local keywords and therefore, it’s much easier to rank for them in organic results. Therefore your aim should be to target long-tail keywords having location specification. This will have a significant impact on your SEO rankings.


6. Backlinks through Social Sharing

Social channels are gold mines for every digital marketer out there striving for brand awareness in today’s era. Sites like Facebook, Google, Quora, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. among others own a good share of the internet’s audience. Facebook itself hosts over 1.55 billion users every month with people from every part of the world logged in. Tap into the power of social media by creating profiles on these networks and engaging with your customers. See what they have to say about your brand/product and learn from them. The more you engage with them, answer their queries & get them to talk about your brand, the more respect you gain in the digital sphere. Happy customers will automatically share their experience with your brand, which will generate valuable backlinks for your website. These user reviews and social shares as deemed as highly relevant and trustworthy by the search engines, which in turn will increase your SEO score. Make sure you leverage all the social channels available.


7. Mobile Responsive Design

Mashable’s statistics on mobile search trends indicate that more than 50% of Google’s traffic is generated via mobile devices. This is a BIG number considering the world’s most widely used search engine on the web today. Also, over the years the number of mobile users has surpassed the number of desktop users & they rely on their smartphones now more than ever. Users are searching for information on businesses & services on their smartphones continuously. Google’s Mobile Friendly Update released in April last year clearly indicated to incorporate mobile responsiveness in your website to retain and improve your SEO score.

Creating a mobile optimised website should be a main agenda for improving your SEO score. I’ve found this interesting tool that helps you view and manage your mobile responsiveness: Responsinator. It provides a clear and crisp idea view of how your website is displayed on popular mobile devices like iPhone, Google Nexus and more, and where you need to make appropriate changes.

Also, Following are some useful links regarding Mobile friendly websites:
a. Google’s official page to check mobile responsiveness
b. Google Webmasters Guidelines for mobile-friendly pages


8. 404 Error Pages

A HTTP 404 error occurs when a page that users were trying to reach on your site isn’t found on the server. This usually occurs when you’ve moved the page without implementing proper redirect or when the page is temporarily down.

When seen from an SEO perspective, error pages don’t have a direct impact on the website rankings but they can be leveraged in an intelligent way to improve your SEO score. Ideally, you should implement proper redirects for such pages so that users are routed to the new pages to avoid losing customer credibility.
Alternatively what you can do is create a custom 404 page that clearly states that the page has been removed or is down for the time being. And to leverage it for SEO what you must also do is provide links to the most visited/popular pages of your website/blog categorically on it. Combining these practices will have a two-fold advantage – first, they’ll contribute towards positive user experience & encourage them to visit other useful pages and second, they’ll actively promote rich internal linking within your website. You’ll start observing better SEO rankings once Google bot re-crawls those pages.


These are a few techniques that I’ve worked on that have given me results. In case you would like to know how to categorize your SEO efforts, following is a useful blog for it – Categorizing SEO Efforts. Know that proper SEO is a time consuming process, so implement every step thoroughly when working on your website and keep track of your efforts to measure your results and for future implementation.