Moses’ Ten Commandments of Good Website SEO

Not many people know this, but when Moses came down Mount Sinai with the tablets of stone, he also had some rather more lucrative documents that he was given on a USB stick.  After some painstaking research I have managed to get the USB stick working with Windows Vista and have uncovered the 10 commandments of good on-site SEO.

1. Thou shalt not create Flash websites.  For Flash is the work of the devil

Google struggles to read Flash.  If your website is coded entirely in flash or even if you use it for navigation then you’re making it difficult for Google to read and index your content.  Don’t use it.  Or a crash of lightning will strike thee down.

2. Thou shalt have relevant content, updated frequently by thee and thine

Content, content, content.  If you have good content and you update it frequently then Google will love you and your visitors will love you.  Write frequently and write stuff that’s interesting.  Keep it fairly close to the topic of your website (but you’re allowed the odd diversion) and try to include your major keywords in the text if you can.  But write for your audience, not for Google (see commandment 8).

3. Thou shalt use thine title tag appropriately

The title tag is one of the main things that Google uses to decide what your content is all about and is treated as an authority for your webpage.  So use – put your major keywords in it.  Don’t worry too much about your company name.  Change the title for each of your webpages so that it’s relevant for the page.  But don’t go nuts and cram all of your keywords in there.  It’ll dilute your efforts and bear in mind that it’ll be displayed in Google so it should give the reader some idea of what the page is all about!

4. Thou shalt make use of the <h1&rt; tags.  For they are good

As in the title tags, the <h1&rt; tag is also treated well by Google and so should reflect the content of the page.  You could probably include a few of your more minor keywords in this header but again, write for your reader, not for Google.

5. Thou shalt use thine keywords throughout the text, but not in an evil manner

“Don’t be evil”, as someone once said.  The best thing to do is to bear in mind that you’re always writing for humans, not for Google.  So don’t have paragraphs full of your keywords crammed into the document.  It might get people to your site but it’ll chase them away just as quickly.  Write nicely for your reader and include keywords where relevant and appropriate.

6. Thou shalt use thine alt tags and title tags for thine images and links

Not just for accessibility’s sake (although you should be doing that) – include alt tags in your images and title tags for your links.  It helps you squeeze a couple of keywords in and makes you links much more relevant to Google and to your audience.

7. Thou shall use thine Meta Description tag appropriately

Your description tag could well be shown in Google next to your listing so you want to make the most of it.  Don’t just cram a load of keywords in there because all you’ll end up doing is showing all your potential Google visitors what a spammy website you’re running.  Spend a bit of time in making it readable, succinct and to the point.  Keep it to about 20 to 30 words, include relevant keywords that you’re trying to optimise but make it readable and compelling to your audience.

8. Thou shalt not forget thine visitors to thine website.  For they are good

It’s all good getting traffic to your website but if it’s unreadable or does’t have anything useful on it then it’s just a complete waste of time and effort.  Yes, optimise it for search engines to get the traffic there but once you have the traffic you have to keep it there.  So the difficult bit is having text that is compelling to your reader but optimised for Google.

Remember, you’re writing for your audience, not for Google.  If you’ve chosen your keywords properly then your text should build upon your keywords without you having to put much effort into it.  If you find you’re having to force your keywords into the text then you either have the wrong keywords or you have the wrong content.

Take a step back and look at your content.  Is it something that you’d want to read having searched for your chosen keywords?  If not, then start again.

9. Thou shalt link sensibly to other pages in and out of thine website

If you have other pages in your website which are relevant or which build upon a topic then link to them.  If you have other websites that are useful then link to them too.  Don’t worry about so-called link juice.  You’re catering for your readers and providing lots of relevance in your website.

And that is the key – be relevant.  Don’t link to a pile of link exchanges or other shoddy websites, but do link to authoritative and relevant websites that enhance your topic and build upon it.

10. Thou shalt not link out to dodgy websites.  For they are dodgy

As above, don’t link to websites which aren’t relevant.  If they’re spammy then Google will frown upon it.  If they’re not relevant then they’re not going to do anything for your users.  If it’s part of a link exchange then consider what good it does you.  Does it make your website/brand look tacky?  Does it distract from your message?  I guess I’m not saying that you should NEVER link to other websites, but I am saying that you should be choosy about who you do link to.

11. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife

That’s a blog post for another day…

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Gregor Spowart is a partner in Mass Media Design, a website design and Internet Marketing company based in Reading (Berkshire), Swindon (Wiltshire) and Cardiff.