Here's my top 12 tips to drive a website higher

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1. Keep the content fresh. In my experience this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help drive a website up the search engines. Spending a little time every week freshening and updating the web pages can go a long way with this.

2. Edit meta tags. Put some time aside to write optimised meta titles & descriptions for each of your pages and posts (if you have a blog). This can not only help with search engine position but can also drive better quality traffic back to your website from the search engines. Read more in my meta tags eBook.

3. Focus each page on a keyword phrase. Spend a little time researching which keyword phrases you’d most like a page to be found for, then optimise each one for that chosen keyword phrase.

4. Set up a blog. If you run a business website then having a blog is an easy way you can help you chances with the search engines. You just need a blogging platform like WordPress and a few hours a week to write the content.

5. Use a keyword phrase domain name. This only applies if you’re setting up a new website. It’s something that’s been overused in the past but can still have worthwhile value. If you can find a keyword phrases that genuinely fits with your website purpose, in my experience it can help with SEO.

6. Set up a Google Places Business listing. If you travel to different places and use Google you might notice how different local businesses appear at the top of the search results. A lot of this comes from their Google Places listed, and it’s really important for every business to have one. Doing the initial setup only takes a few minutes and then you could soon be appearing on the main results page.

7. Get quality links from other websites. Known as backlinks they are in reality a link from another website to your website. Been much abused in the past, but if another site links to your site for genuine reasons (because they think their readers will enjoy your content for example), Google will notice and it can help with ranking (especially if the other site is popular).

8. Competitor analysis. You can learn an awful lot from your competitors. And it doesn’t take long to check them out online. First visit their website and see how it compares to yours. Then enter related keywords into Google to see where they are positioned in the results. Use a keyword density tool to see what keywords they’re using in their pages.

9. Social Media marketing. People often think of social media marketing as separate from SEO but the two are very much connected. It’s very likely that Google monitors social media activity closely, and will know how often you post content there and how popular it is. It’s unlikely that just posting on social media is going to help with search engine ranking, but if social media is making your website pages popular then the search engines will notice and this could improve ranking.

10. Image alt tags. Search engines index images as well as web pages, and quite a few people will be searching for the images, especially in relation to products and when comparing goods to buy. It’s not so well known that images have ‘alt tags’ that allow you to add a short keyword rich description, thus greatly helping the search engines find the images on your site. You can generally edit these ‘alt tags’ from the image editing part of your website’s content management system.

11. Check website speed. How fast is your website? You may be thinking: “how should I know, or even care”, but it’s an important topic because Google almost certainly knows and may downgrade your site if it finds it slower than it should be. Google offers a simple tool to test your site and offers suggestions on fixing any issues.

12. Create a logical site layout. Have you ever visited a website only to get totally confused by the layout, meaning you can’t find anything you’re looking for? The search engines also look at website’s layout and will be equally unimpressed if they can’t figure out how to find things. So make sure your site has a logical easy to understand layout. One way to test it is to pretend you're a new visitors on the site for the first time and need to find something fast. Better still ask someone who has never used the site to do the same and see how he or she gets on.

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