Improve SEO Ranking
Updated: 18 June 2018
Help people find your content, and do this by accommodating where they are
likely to initiate their search. Then, help the spyders and algorithms
across the various platforms, so these beasts in turn can help those people
you are trying to reach.
These are tips and tricks from successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO),
including tips for automated Social Media integration for further reach.
This is an amalgamation from different points of view, from practitioners
spanning Silicon Valley, Poland’s tech sector, Vancouver and beyond.
Consider this to be the least you need to know and do for a pragmatic
approach, such as operating a one-person business or as an independent
author. Typically, a company would have a specialist handling all this, so
beware that this is merely scratching the surface of many delicate,
N.B., As this is a moving target due to algorithms and heuristics constantly
changing among the various service providers, de-prioritize this list
further for every month that passes since last updated.
Search Engine Ranking Favours Mobile
As of late March 2018, Google’s ranking algorithm
favours mobile websites.
There are a few ways to accommodate this for your own website:
The play.org website, for instance, uses a “responsive” approach.
There’s only one set of content pages, but style sheets have rules
for small screens versus large ones.
The threshold chosen here was size of a current mini tablet (e.g., 7”
iPad). Small tablets and phones are shown content zoomed-in so no
magnification required for most. (View top of this file’s HTML source code
for the specific bit of markup,
viewport set to device-width.)
A second approach would be serving different content to different devices,
and a third would be to have separate websites such as m.example.com, where
the letter M is an easy-to-type convention for “mobile” website.
Structure of Your Website
A few minutes of planning your website’s structure can yield substantial
dividends of good placement on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) of Google
as well as other search engines such as Yandex (the back-end used by
DuckDuckGo, for instance).
- Google penalizes for slow websites.
- Avoid most Wordpress hosting providers unless there is a fast content
distribution network (CDN) or caching layer like varnish-cache.org
- Consider squarespace.com (no affiliation)
- Others recommend a quick and easy landing page builder like:
instapage.com, launchrock.com, unbounce.com, kickofflabs.com
- Avoid Websites that take more than 2 seconds to load in a desktop
browser when in major cities of North America or Western Europe.
- Google penalizes for duplicate keywords.
- Example: running-shoes-running (don’t do this)
- This appears to Google Ranking algorithm as the product of automated
page generation and is not something a person would intentionally
create; therefore, Google assumes it to be a website of someone
attempting to “game” their system and punishes them accordingly.
- When planning keywords, you are defining a matrix of web pages at the
intersection of primary and secondary keyword combinations.
- For instance, a mattress company with multiple locations might have the
same page content on different pages for each city with only the city
name being different; however, Google will penalize for that.
- Instead, add unique customer reviews and quotes on each page, and you’ve
diversified the content sufficiently for Google’s Ranking algorithm.
- Think in terms of a two dimensional structure:
- e.g., product category vs items from product description
- e.g., research topics vs impact on health, self, family, society, etc.
- e.g., skin type/issues vs natural skin care products
- e.g., types of coaching as an activity vs nature & type of your clients
- Even if you believe that your category structure has more than two
dimensions, flatten it to only two!
- You can flatten by simply deciding a sequence and sticking with it.
- e.g., Let’s say you make custom furniture but also sell brand names,
and you have multiple locations in different cities, and you offer
finishes like bedding, upholstery, etc. Product-or-service becomes one
dimension, but perhaps augment it with location. Then the second
dimension is name or description of each product/service including key
items of note from product description.
- Within those two dimensions, you can vary it such as some that use
product name and others that use details from product description;
Do both, but each must land the visitor on a differently worded page!
- Use those dimensions to create file names on your website:
- Do you see the repeated phrases in the above examples? Do much more of that!
- Do you see lack of repeated words; e.g., …
(rather than …
-bicycles because repetition gets penalized)
- Feel free to omit prepositions, articles, etc.
- Let the search engines apply synonyms like “bike” for “bicycle”, so use
the more precise (or less ambiguous) term.
- Think: keywords, not phrases.
- Think like a Linguist, and be precise in your choice of words for bonus
- Google favours “deep links”, hence “services” in the example.com paths above.
- Other sections beyond “services” might be “about” and “legal”.
- Feel free to be creative by substituting “services” or “products” with
some word relevant to your business.
- The idea is to accommodate the various “keywords” that someone might use
as the essence of their Google search.
- There’s no need to worry about common typos, as Google handles that.
- Likewise, let Google Search resolve synonyms.
- Use precise jargon for your industry or niche
- e.g., for Real Estate Brokers, use “closing” (not “sale”)
as the former is the stronger term, and the latter is the synonym
- If possible, use a key search term in your domain name:
- e.g., rather than ChrisBrownRealEstate.com,
consider something with your territory like
- But if there is important jargon in your particular field, it might be
worth creating a “redirect” page (formally, “HTTP 301 Moved Permanently”)
to bounce people from a page that uses the typo in its filename to a page
named using correct spelling.
- Search your hosting provider FAQ or Support pages for “redirect”.
- The “correct” page is sometimes referred to as the “canonical” version.
- Start small such as dozens of pages in total, then increase to hundreds,
then possibly thousands of combinations, such as for a merchant
- Growing too quickly can cause your website to be penalized by Google’s
Rank algorithm, but if so, it will recover over time.
- “Keep it indexed, keep it unique”
- This means: Go back periodically and ensure that those two dimensions
create only unique filenames and unique page content!
- Include more than just a search box on your home page– add actual links
for people to browse, and the Google crawler can then find the pages
too! It’s good for people and great for search engine ranking.
- For links back to your “contact” page that might occur in footer of
every page, you can avoid the Google crawler from thinking that it’s
link-spam by adding
rel=nofollow to the HTML code of each link.
(Search for “nofollow” on your hosting provider’s FAQ or Support pages.)
- For websites with deep links such as extensive product catalogues with
subcategories: keep your filters in the same semantic order or category
- i.e., Be consistent!
- For instance:
Clothes > Men's > Formal > Blazer > Black
- But avoid also having alternate paths such as
Clothes > Formal > Blazer > Men
on the same website– which would get you punished by Google’s Ranking.
- If you need to accommodate both, simply have your navigation widget
convert these alternate paths to a single strict (canonical) sequence.
- Only add a landing page to this collection only when either it can bring
traffic from search or is so unique that Google will love you for it.
- Make use of relevant synonyms for your niche.
- But avoid adding pages simply to use all potential synonyms.
- Measure your websites ranking over time to track progress.
- A sudden but subtle loss in ranking would indicate that a competitor
is using a new keyword or synonym that might be missing from your
- A sudden but significant loss in ranking may indicate that Google has
changed their algorithm again, or a major competitor has moved into
your space with significant budget
- There are services that do this tracking such as GetStat.com (no affiliation)
- Keep your domain registration expiration several years into the future;
e.g., 5+ years
- This helps distinguish you from domain squatters, as they typically
only renew one year at a time.
- Register typo domain names, names with/without hyphen, with/without
- While most people will find you through a search engine, people
sometimes type in addresses from business cards, from memory, etc.
example.com (singular) and
(or snagz.net, snagznet.com, snagsnet.com, snagz-net.com, snags-net.com)
- The only thing to be hosted at the typo domain is a little script to
forward visitors to your canonical website.
- Many hosting providers offer this as a “redirect” page (formally,
“HTTP 301 Moved Permanently”)
- Many domain name registrars price their fees in US Dollars, even if
displaying in other currencies. Some providers, in no particular order:
- Dyn.com - still based in New Hampshire but now owned by Oracle
- Gandi.net - offers .EU and many others
- WebNames.ca - the original Canadian .CA registrar
- OrangeWebsite.com - based in Iceland; may pay in BTC
- You may be able to find deals on domain registration for typo domains by
transferring in bulk just before expiration, when another registrar
offers deep discounts for new customers.
- However, don’t transfer your primary domain registration too often;
it’s just one domain, so paying a little more is negligible cost.
For additional resources, see
YouTube & Vimeo
Even if your primary video hosting platform is Vimeo, always upload to
YouTube as well for increasing chances for people to discover your works.
For each video hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. and even if embedding videos
on your own website:
- Good positioning on YouTube gets you improved ranking in Google Search results
- Remember that they are owned by the same company
- Video is ranked differently than web pages without embedded video
- Create meaningful titles for display on their websites
- Be mindful that long titles get cropped in search results
- Focus on key phrases and keywords for your title
- A title may consist of only keywords
- Consider omitting articles, propositions, adverbs, most adjectives
- Populate the “description” field for their websites
- Be as thorough as possible
- Put more than just one or two sentences
- Consider putting an outline
- Even better, put a transcript
- Just as it’s important to have detailed description on your YouTube and
Vimeo pages, also put these on pages displaying your embedded video
- That is, don’t just have a web page with embedded video and title
- YouTube accommodates extracting a transcript from your own videos
- Use this as template for corresponding blog entry after uploading your video
Social Media as SEO Strategy
Think of social media as increasing opportunities for both people and search
engine spyders to find your main content.
If you do nothing else with social media, use automation to push a synopsis
or first few sentences– plus link back to your main content– to a wide
range of platforms.
That is, use an automated tool such as Sprout Social or Social Report to
bulk-schedule what and when to publish to each of your social media
accounts. (Note that in 2018, Instagram added a business tier where you can
post using social media automation tools; whereas, previously, you could
only officially post via their mobile app.)
These accounts should include:
- Google+ because you want good placement on Google Search results
- Facebook because some people search there first
- Twitter because some people have feeds based upon hashtags
- Linkedin because you likely have a strong professional network there
- Instagram, Pinterest, Slideshare, etc. for visual search
- YouTube, Vimeo, etc. because some like to watch rather than read
- Medium, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. because it increases exposure
If you have a location-specific component to your content, also add:
Yelp, Meetup, FourSquare, TripAdvisor, etc.
If you’re familiar with the local culture, also consider asking a friend to
post your link to Reddit or similar forum.
For text content, use text-to-speech generators (bundled on Mac and Windows,
optional on Linux and
to generate video content for YouTube, Vimeo, etc. It helps to have at
least one image rather than blank visuals. A talking head (i.e., you)
reciting or summarizing the content will perform even better.
That same visual element (picture, informative graphic, title card, etc.)
may also be used for Instagram and friends; however, stock imagery and title
cards perform worse than original photos and expressive imagery.
If you don’t have a Facebook profile for yourself, create one in order to
create a Page for your website. Then, push to the Page while leaving your
personal profile alone.
Maintaining an automation schedule should only take as long as needed to
revise a row within a spreadsheet for each new bit of content on your
primary website. You can and likely should tweak the wording for every few
destinations (so that you don’t have 30 clones of identical text, which
would count against you in the algorithms).
Best of all, this automated push schedule can be working while you are
sleeping or on vacation.
If you have several friends also starting out with social media automation,
consider pooling resources and getting a single high-end account with
Social Report or similar
service that offers white-label use. You’ll each get your own login access
yet also get more features!
One more thing:
Be sure that you are not merely presenting only your own content. Play nice
with the neighbours, and re-tweet or re-post content from others. This will
give your content better ranking in search results (because of the way that
the algorithms and heuristics work) as well as boost placement of your
“Build it and they will come” or “Your audience will find you” are good
intentions, yet a few minutes of planning and another few minutes of regular
upkeep go a long way in affirming or demonstrating that intention.
In this day and age, SEO and Social Media are intertwined. The “internet”
for some people is the Google search box, but for many more, it’s Facebook–
as much as that’s disheartening for this long-time net-head to admit
Begin with good content. Spend a little time planning the layout of your
website. Prepare a synopsis or lede for each piece that you create. Use
automation for pushing this intro to various social media for increasing
your exposure, ultimately making it easier for your audience to find you.