Search Engine Rankings for Your Site

If you own or operate a web site it’s likely that you are concerned about your search engine rankings. I have received enough questions from clients about rankings that I realize some of you really care about how high your site ranks. Here are some resources to help you.

The Basics

If you have been relying on others for your site’s SEO, don’t worry! The basic techniques are not hard to understand. The maxim for basic SEO is:

Add quality content regularly and make sure your site is well-built.

That quote is from Roger Johansson’s great article, Basics of search engine optimisation. As Roger says, good content is very important. Frankly, if you don’t have compelling content, you shouldn’t even have a site in the first place, right? So work hard on your site’s content and you will be well on your way.

The well-built part, well, that is slightly more complicated. It involves using web standards such as XHTML and CSS correctly to ensure that your site is visible and attractive to both human and search engine robot visitors. Good use of these technologies not only helps your site do better in search engine rankings, but makes it easier to maintain that all-important content.

Read Roger’s Basics article article if you would like a more in-depth analysis with examples.

Ethical SEO

Some clients have asked: Do I need to hire someone to perform SEO for my site? One reason to do your own SEO is to avoid bad situations where you pay lots of money to “optimize” your site and actually lose visitors in the aftermath. Beware of so-called “SEO consultants” even if they claim to use ethical methods. For a fascinating horror story, read Chris Heilmann’s article Ethical search engine optimisation my foot!

Deceptive SEO methods might make your site perform worse or even get you banned from search engines. Forty Media’s James Archer posted a great treatise on his blog Return of Design.

James broke SEO techniques into three categories: search engine optimization, search engine exaggeration, and search engine deception. If you read his article, it will reinforce in your mind that basic SEO is enough to make your site successful, as long as you put work into the content and making sure the site is well-built.

Accessible and Searchable

As a bonus, read High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization to find out how improving your site’s search engine rankings correctly can also increase your site’s accessibility.

SEO and You

You can do it! Don’t take shortcuts, build and maintain your site lovingly, and keep the content fresh and attractive. That’s the start to getting the optimal search engine ranking.

Published by

Lance Willett

By day Lance is a web developer at Automattic, and by night he is Launcelot du Lac, Knight of the Round Table.