Rank and File: Tips for Improving Your Position on Today’s Search Engines

If it seems that it would take several PhDs to understand exactly how the big search engines operate—from determining legitimate sites from imposters, choosing to give one site precedent over others in result listings etc.—that’s completely understandable. After all, these virtual ranking experts work on complex algorithms and a veritable litany of equally mind-boggling criteria that conjure up a Stephen Hawking-esque scenario that is, as they say, all Greek (to the average user.)

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Of course, much of this is based on search engine optimization (SEO) a relatively simple process of textual keyword insertions that are recognized as legit and pertinent by said search engines and, therefore, vastly improve your chances of ranking better and, in the end, driving the sorts of visitors you want to your website.

Thankfully, website owners, designers and administrators don’t necessarily need to know the delicate intricacies of search engine result positioning: what’s more important is knowing the basics of how they index websites and how to leverage those basics in order to receive a more positive standing. And here are some tips to do just that.

  • Always keep in mind the old saying “publish or perish.” One tried-and-true way to increase your search rankings is to publish new content on a regular basis. For bloggers, once a week at minimum; for e-commerce and corporate websites more often is better. This works well for two reasons: search engines love new content, and if you have new content you providing the search engines with new material to index, which vastly increases your chances of getting favorable listings.
  • Speak in clear, plain language. Using complex jargon or industry-specific terminology is a waste of time, as the people searching for you don’t use similar language. So think about what keywords and phrases your visitors would use, as this is most likely what they’re typing into a search engine themselves. And when they do arrive at your site, they’ll be greeted by language they understand and can relate to easily.
  • Search engines absolutely love page titles and give them precedence when indexing and ranking your site. So in your title pages use the keywords you’ve identified as those most likely to be typed in by searchers. Keep titles short and to the point and you’ll give the search engines as well as your visitors a clear idea of what your page entails.
  • A key factor in website ranking that many people don’t know relates to the structuring of your URL. Search engines get a feel for your page first by using that address, so the it’s important to insert a keyword phrase from your page title into that URL and leave out basic articles such as “a” and “the.” And ideally separate keywords with dashes: doing so makes the search engine’s job easier and gets you a higher ranking in results.
  • Try not to delete pages from your website. When you do so there’s a chance of someone landing on a dead or discontinued page and you completely trash any search value that page had for your site. Instead, work with your web designer or administrator and put a redirect in place, which forwards visitors to a related page within your site, giving a positive experience to those visitors.
  • Include internal links—those that connect one page of your site to another—so visitors are pushed to similar relevant content. Additionally, doing so shows search engines that there’s a relationship between those pages, which helps increase your rankings for multiple pages on your site.

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