With search engines like Google currently indexing over 8 billion pages, it is becoming more and more difficult to get a top search engine ranking. Type in a popular search phrase such as "Internet Marketing" into Yahoo or Google and you will be returned over 8 million results!
Unless your website is in the first two or three pages, it is unlikely that you will receive many visitors from search engines.
So what should a webmaster do to give their website the best chance of ranking high in the search engines?
All search engines work slightly differently and have ever changing algorithms for ranking web pages, but these tips can be applied when planning, developing or marketing a website to help you reach that top page of search engine results.
(1) Choose your keywords carefully
It's extremely important to set aside time to research your keywords. It's best to do this in the planning stages, before developing your website, but many of us start a website without knowing a thing about how the search engines work, so you may find yourself doing this weeks or months later.
Try to choose phrases that are searched on frequently and if possible have a low number of competing websites.
To get an idea of the number of times a keyword is searched for per month, type a keyword into the box at
This will tell you how many times your keyword was searched on in the previous month (based on Overture's partner search engines) and give you a list of similar keywords.
Another useful tool to help you choose your keywords is Word Tracker. This tool will help you choose your keywords and give you a "KEI" for each set of keywords based on the popularity of the keyword (number of searches) and the amount of competition.
If you manage to pick your keywords in the planning stages you may even be lucky enough to find a domain name that contains your keywords.
(2) Optimise your pages
Once you have decided on your keywords you will need to optimise your pages for those keywords. Here are a few tips.
- Ensure that the Title of your page contains your keywords.
- Mention your keywords inside the meta tags. Most search engines no longer use meta tags, but some make use of them so it is still worthwhile using these.
- Try to make sure that the first occurance of readable text on your page contains your keywords
- Ensure that your keywords are mentioned in the initial paragraph of your page
- Use your keywords throughout the text of your page - but be careful not to overdo this. Your page should still be readable by humans!
- Use your keywords between the headline tags on your page ("H1" tags or H2/H3 if H1 is too big)
- Occasionally bold or italicise your keywords
- Make sure that links pointing back to each page on your site contain the keywords for each page
- Give all your images an "ALT" tag and put your keywords in here too - again, don't overdo this
- Try to put some of your keywords in your outbound links
(3) Start Linking
One of the most important criteria in getting a good search engine ranking is the number of backlinks you have to your website from related websites.
Type in your chosen keywords to Yahoo or Google and take note of the top 3 sites returned to you.
Now go to this Link Popularity Tool and put the URLs of the top three sites into the linking tool, along the URL of your own site.
Have a look at the difference between your site and the top 3 sites and this will give you an idea of how many links you need in order to get a top search engine ranking for these keywords.
The best ways to get links back to your site are:
- By writing articles related to the subject of your website and getting them published on the internet
- Reciprocal Linking with other related websites
- Posting on newsgroups and forums that allow you to have a signature attached to your posting (with your uRL in it)
- Submitting your site to directories.
Try to make sure that the anchor text (clickable text) that links back to your site contains your keywords.
(4) Add Content Regularly
Another thing you may have noticed is that top ranking websites have lots of content.
Regularly updating your website and adding fresh content will also help your site to rank more highly in the search engines.
If you don't have time to create your own unique content there are plenty free articles available Just type "Free website content" into Google and you'll have your pick of the 18 million results that it returns to you!
To improve your ranking, follow steps 1 and 2 above and repeat steps 3 and 4 regularly.
You can check your progress on Yahoo and Google by using the free search engine ranking tools at the following sites: