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Communications, Design, Rants

Are you chasing PageRank and SEO?

Me, I love PageRank – I adore seeing my various websites on the front-page of search results on Google, and yes, I gnash my teeth a little every six weeks or so when my sites go up and down the results page due to the ‘Google Dance’. Each time Google re-sorts its rankings and results my heart skips a little as I note where I’ve succeeded and failed this time around.

If you care about people reading your work, or buying your product or noticing you in any way on the web then you certainly have to care about findability and getting on Google, but perhaps you’ve been advised that you need to spend hours and loads o’ money to get your web pages ‘good enough’ for the search engines?

I don’t think so.

Here’s five ways you can improve your search rankings today.

DIY SEO

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t something you should have to pay for; not unless you wanna outsource the work because you’ve got a large website.

For most of us, SEO is actually easy, and it’s ‘SEO Black Hats‘ and ‘SEO White Hats’ who are muddying the waters by claiming it’s an esoteric practice that only they can help you with. In my opinion, those guys are just using FUD to get you to part with your cash.

Yes, there are practices that are dodgy as hell and will get you thrown off Google, but those techniques have nothing to do with creating a great website, so it should be obvious they’re a no no.
(E.g. creating several websites with different addresses but the same content.)

Here’s five things you can sort out yourself to improve your ranking:

  1. Google Sitemap – get yourself registered and then follow the instructions. Basically, by creating a sitemap and telling Google where it is, they will be able to more accuratly index your site, and you’ll know when Google has crawled over your site too. Sure, it’s not easy-peasy but if you’ll read the instructions for 10 minutes rather than just jumping in, you’ll be good. (Sitemaps are computer files, I’m not talking about creating a ‘map of your site’ for users to surf.)
  2. Accurate page titles – Don’t get too fancy with your titles; if you’re blogging, poetic titles aren’t going to make any sense out of context, so load your titles with accurate key-words and just say what you mean and mean what you say.
  3. Use decent structural xHTML – don’t put your titles in ‘Heading 6’ and then make them really big using CSS or the ‘bold’ button. Titles must be in ‘Heading 1‘ or ‘Heading 2’; it’s common sense to use xHTML as it was designed, especially as search engines really take note of h1 and h2.
  4. Foster relatonships with other webmasters – before Web 2.0 and the rise of Social Networks, webmasters would email each other and say ‘hey, nice site, I’ve linked to you’. Remember to link to their site before hinting that you’d appreciate a link back. Links to your site from respected websites help your PageRank.
  5. Write well, write often, write on target – no SEO trick can replace good writing that speaks to the reader and helps them do something better.

Analysis

How will you know if these five obvious steps help you? Well, they should affect your ranking in the search results page when searching for key words that relate to your website and topic. But you must use some form of tracking so you can know for sure which pages your visitors are interested in; you can’t simply be counting ‘hits’ in this day and age.

  • Google Analytics – superb tracking and beautiful graphical analysis of where your visitors are coming from and what they’re doing on your site.
  • Page Rank Checker – is your PageRank below 4? Improve your site and watch your Page Rank get to 4, 5 and maybe 6 over the next 6 weeks.

Remember, search rankings and PageRank numbers are only indications of your popularity online, they are not true measures of the quality of your site or the value you give to your readers, clients or customers. If you want to know if you’re delivering true value, get to know your visitors personally, start interacting with them directly and get feedback.

Want to leave feedback for me? Please do! I’d love to have your comments, thank you.

[Wedge]

Update: Daryl from Consulting Pulse discusses the fool’s errand of SEO!

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

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