10 effective SEO tips you can do right now

Google Analytics

The problem with most search engine optimisation advice is that it effectively tells you to tear down your site and start again.

Does it really have to be that drastic? While any site benefits from having SEO in mind at the time of its design, there are some tweaks and tune-ups you can do to any site, quickly and easily.

They won't get you to the top of Google's results page overnight - but in the pitiless world of PageRank, the only way is up.

1. Use meaningful document names

Give pages descriptive file names that search engines can follow - like, "galleryofillustrations.html", for example. Your CMS, if you're using one, will probably allow you to configure this automatically in your main settings.

In Wordpress go to Settings > Permalinks and clicking "custom structure". Define a structure that includes the page title, using the %postname% tag.


GOOD URLS: When creating Permalinks in Wordpress, combine the descriptive post name with a unique tag, like the post's ID number

2. Speed up your site

Google software engineer Matt Cutts recently told WebProNews that site speed will be added to the criteria that affects your site's PageRank in 2010.

Easiest way to quicken up your site? Make sure you're using the right image types: JPEG for photos, PNG for graphics - and that their file size is as small as you can get away with without compromising quality.

3. Grow inbound links

Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo - none of them publish a list of the rules they use to rank your sites. We do know that good quality, incoming links are a factor, though. So mention your site on Twitter, put it in your email signature, add it to social networks you use and get your friends to blog about your site.

4. Sign up for Google Analytics

Google Analytics is more than a log reading tool. It enables you to set goals, track conversions, see entry and exit pages and catalogue keywords. Add it, give it a week or two to work its mojo and you'll soon be bursting with site optimisation ideas.

5. Add popular pages to your sidebar

Using Google Analytics, or whatever traffic measurement comes bundled with your account, you can see which pages attract the most attention. Give people more of what they want. Add links to your most popular content to your sidebar. On Wordpress there's a popular posts plug-in that'll do it for you.

6. Put up signposts

Another analytics inspired tweak. Think about where you need users to go and give them a clear way to get there. You want people to find a picture gallery or a contact form? Add it to your main navigation as near to the top of your content as possible. If users can find it easily, so can a search engine.

7. Build a better landing page

Does your site have a lovely splash page filled with a nice big logo? Get rid of it. The landing page for your site should assure search engines it's the one of the best hits for the topic users have searched for. That means relevant, textual content filling up your front page.

8. Add "alt" text to images

Search engines can't see pictures, so you have to describe them. Required for your site to pass as valid HTML, make sure that all images have short but accurate "alt" text. While you're at it, add the "title" attribute to links, with a brief description.


TEXT ONLY: Got a static HTML site? See it like search engines see it - with a text based web browser like Lynx

9. Ditch Flash navigation

Though some content in Shockwave Flash can be indexed now, it's best to make it as easy as possible for search engine spiders to find the links in your site. So, plain text links wherever possible please.

10. Make your site hypertextual

Internal references to similar content within your site will help search engine spiders determine relevance. Add links to existing entries in the body of your pages - or as a "now read this" recommendation at the end of a post. You'll improve both user experience and ranking.