Practical Ecommerce

SEO: 3 Steps to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

Optimizing your website to attract search engine attention — a practice known as on-site optimization — is an often multifaceted and complex process. However, following three simple steps can help improve your ranking, which may result in more visits to your site.

The three steps are:

  • Create quality content;
  • Find and repair broken links;
  • Optimize meta description and title tags.

1. Create Quality Content

Adding well-written content to your website is one of the most critical activities you can undertake. Marketing your business through the use of content can not only help improve search engine rankings, but is a way to influence buying decisions, particularly for research-intensive purchases.

Prior to creating content, set up a calendar listing topics about which you will write. Here is an example of a calendar created with Google Sheets, a spreadsheet application that is part of Google Drive.

Set up a calendar listing content topics.

Set up a calendar listing content topics.

Content can come in the form of blog posts, infographics, press releases, or even videos about your product or service. Maintaining a blog focused on a few key topics is an easy way to get started.

2. Find and Repair Broken Links

Google Webmaster Tools is an indispensable free tool for managing websites, granting insight into key measures of site health like page load times, volume of pages indexed in Google, and the site’s appearance in search results.

Using the “Crawl Errors” report in Google Webmaster Tools, take a half-hour per month to review the status of links pointing to your web pages.

Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors report.

Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors report.

In the image above, the three outlined sections show:

  • Where to find the Crawl Errors report;
  • What type of error Google detected;
  • A list of errors identified in the report.

In generating the Crawl Errors report, Google attempts to follow all the links pointing to and throughout your site. If a link doesn’t resolve to a web page as expected, Google will report one of a few types of errors using a set of response codes, the two most common of which are:

  • 404 – connection made; resource not found;
  • 500 – connection to server unavailable.

(Moz, a marketing analytics software provider, has a complete list of response codes – also known as HTTP status codes – and their meanings.)

When you encounter a broken link, click on its line item and check the tab “Linked from.”

If the page was linked from somewhere on your site, go to that page and update the link to point to the new URL or correct page. If the linking page is on another website, email the site’s owner and ask him to update the link to point to the right section of your site.

3. Optimize Meta Description and Title Tags

Elsewhere in Webmaster Tools, spend some time reviewing the status of the “meta description” and “title” tags throughout your website.

The “title” tag is a piece of metadata that tells search engines the name of a web page. It’s also the blue link in a Google search result. The “meta description” tag is used to give potential visitors a short introduction to what the page is about, and makes up the plain text beneath the blue link in a Google search result.

Most content management systems (CMS) provide easy access to editing title and meta description tags. Refer to your CMS’ documentation if you need help finding where to edit them.

HTML Improvements report.

HTML Improvements report.

In the image from Webmaster Tools above, the three outlined sections show:

  • Where to find the “HTML Improvements” report;
  • Suggested changes for meta description tags;
  • Suggested changes for title tags.

If you are in the process of building your website, use the report to perform an initial audit of your meta description and title tags after the site launches. On an on-going basis, use the “HTML Improvements” report to find pages where you failed to include these tags.

Click the “duplicate” or “missing” line items to see pages that share identical tags, and pages that lack tags of either type.

Follow the HTML Improvement report’s guidance to create direct response-oriented meta description tags and keyword-rich title tags to inform both search engines and human visitors.

In my next article, I discuss SEO activities you can conduct outside of your website that can boost your search engine performance even further.

Nick Mouledous

Nick Mouledous

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Comments ( 5 )

  1. Tris Hussey March 12, 2015 Reply

    Good post Nick. I’d add a couple extensions to your advice…

    Write like a regular person using descriptive titles for your posts
    Use (descriptive) categories and tags
    Don’t use “click here” for links unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. I’d like to say “never, ever” but that’s way too stringent.

  2. Online Specialists April 24, 2015 Reply

    Google Webmaster is a very helpful tool, I agree. Thanks for these SEO tips!

  3. Bart May 7, 2015 Reply

    Hi,
    Something has happened recently with google results as my website has fallen significantly and it’s rather not a result of “mobile” update as I have used RWD …Anyone knows what is going on?
    Bart ( http://www.quantumpress.pl )

  4. Keenan Garvey May 30, 2016 Reply

    I love this Article, straight to the point!

    I have been in SEO for 4 years and every year I hear the same old people say “SEO is dead”….ummm well those people aren’t actually anything to do with SEO and have no idea the power it holds!

    SEO is one of the most credible ways to get your website seen and to generate third-phase customers, the ones READY to buy! Any business owner who overlooks this are playing with fire, simple.

    Check Out my blog here http://www.launchlocal.co.uk

  5. Raj August 29, 2016 Reply

    Great pointers! Thanks. Most people do not care about finding and correcting broken link. That certainly is the highlight. just a tiny suggestion, you may also include 303 redirects in the article.

    Raj (www.digitalquark.com)