I always describe web site SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as a black art. There are plenty of ‘wizards’ out there offering magic to get your site to number 1, but there’s rarely any guarantee to success. In reality what you need to do is put in some time and effort into making your site super friendly to Google.

Here are my top tips of things you can check to make sure your web site is in tip top condition for Google.

1. Do you have keywords?

Keywords are Google’s bread & butter. A keyword or phrase is the search term Google users will put into the search box to find what they are looking for. You should have put some thought into what keywords users will choose to find your site.

Ideally you will have asked others what they might search for when looking for your product or service, so as not to assume you know what the best term is and you’ll have taken the time to think outside the box.

There are plenty of other sites out there targeting the same keywords as you so if it’s very popular, think about choosing a more specific option. Instead of aiming at “Solicitors” try targeting a location such as “Solicitors Nottingham” or a specialism within the field: “Immigration Solicitors Nottingham”. This should help achieve both higher rankings and visitors who are more likely to get in touch with you.

2. Your Page Titles

Take care on your page titles. These appear at the very top of the browser so should make sense to the visitor, but Google also uses title to understand what your page is about. If your site titles are things such as ‘Home’ and ‘Contact’, then you really should think about expanding them a little.

Instead of ‘Home’, you should consider putting both your Company Name and one or two of your keywords. To continue my Solicitor example, a good contact page might be “Contact Us – A.N. Other Solicitors Nottingham, Specialists in Immigration Law”.

3. Page Names

This follows on directly from above. Each of the pages on your site is a file (named anything but usually ending in .html, .php, .asp, .xhtml or something such), check what these files are called on your site. Look in the browser address bar and the page should be after the last “/” of the address.

If you find the pages are named such things as “page3.html” or if you’ve a blog, they end in something like “? id=36” then you may not be getting the best out of your page names. If these names represent what’s on the page, then once again you’re giving Google a good chance at understanding your site.

4. Page Descriptions

Hidden within the code of each page is a description meta tag ( it looks like <meta name=“description” content=“Description Goes in Here” /> and it’ should be near the top, to look at the hidden page source, choose ‘view source’ from the view menu). This description is use by Google to both understand what the page is about AND uses it below the link of your site in the search results.

So it’s important to make your description suitable for people and Google. It needs to make sense to visitors and contain a few of your keywords. Check your descriptions and how they look in the results pages of Google, if they are keyword heavy and don’t make sense or if they don’t describe each page well, look into changing them.

Each page should have it’s own unique description.

5. Link Text

Look the links within your site, what do they say? Do they look something like this:

“Check out our latest range of retro giftware click here

The underlined text that forms the link is called the anchor text. Ideally this anchor text should hint at what’s on the page your directing the visitor to, so for our example, a more Google friendly version would be:

“Check out our latest range of retro giftware available now!

By linking in this way and using appropriate anchor text, you’re signalling to the search engines what they can expect to find on the following pages as well as probably using relevant keywords which will help promote your site.

Just a brief look at a few of the things you can check on your website to ensure its Google compatible. Naturally there’s plenty more to it but if you start to get these things right, you’ll have a good foundation for the rest!