The main goal of a search engine and its rankings is to provide users with the best possible array of websites and information so that each user can easily find what they are looking for. Here are 10 tips to make sure you can rank well in Google, Yahoo and MSN!

1 Titles

The title of your website should be a few keywords that explain your business. (La Crosse Web Designs is our main title). Search engines take the words in the title into account when deciding where you will rank for a search term (like “La Crosse Web Design”) so it should contain words that you want people to find you on. You should descriptively title all of your internal pages as well.

2 Content

The majority of your web page content should be text because search engines can read text easier than images, Flash or JavaScript. You want to make sure they can easily read all of your content because it directly relates to how your website will rank for a search term. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t use flash or images or JavaScript, just use it sparingly!
Look at our homepage. There is a small bit of JavaScript at the top. It looks nice, its grabs your attention, but it isn’t slowing the load time of the website.

3 Unique content

Search engines love unique content. Why? Unique content (text that isn’t found anywhere else on the web) gives search engines the opportunity to provide more variety and better choices when displaying search results. They love it so much that when you do the opposite – i.e. duplicate content – your ranking can drop or be black listed.

4 Updated Content

Updating your content often tells a search engine that you are constantly providing new information to internet users. If the search engine reads something new on your page each time it visits, it starts to read your page more often. Every time it reads your site, you gain trust and authority with the search engine which helps you rank higher! Frequently updated content can be achieved by having a news section, a blog, a message board, etc.

5 Loading Times

Flash and JavaScript can really slow down a website’s loading time. You’ve been to those sites – you get to the page and it takes 5 minutes to get anything up on screen and you have to watch an annoying loading animation. Just like you, the search engine doesn’t want to wait around and will leave without reading your site.

6 Website Architecture

Website architecture is how you set up your website for navigation. How do people get from your homepage to your internal pages? A website’s architecture should be simple to use for your user and for the search engines. Search engines will read all of your pages if each page is easy to get to through internal links.

7 Make a sitemap

A sitemap is like a map of your website. It guides the search engine through all of your website’s pages. It can help search engines read pages that they might not have seen otherwise.
You can create a free one here: www.xml-sitemaps.com/

8 www and non www URLs

Sometimes websites have two URL’s for the same site. For example, www.couleecreative.com or http://couleecreative.com. Even though the web pages look exactly the same search engines see these as separate websites. As mentioned before, duplicate content can get you in trouble with search engines because they may think you are trying to manipulate the rankings. To remedy this situation you have to create a 301 or 302 redirect.

9 Create a link network

Create a link network with related businesses and websites. It not only helps your ranking within a search engine and/or drive traffic to your site – it can lead the search engines to read your page more often (because the crawler finds you through another website). This leads to a greater trust and authority which can result in a better ranking.

10 Don’t try to fool a search engine

Using hidden text, hidden links, keyword stuffing, etc. is manipulating search engine rankings. It’s a waste of your time and it can get you blacklisted from search results. Seriously, don’t do it – search engines are smarter than you think!