How do I improve my google ranking?

We get asked this a lot. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a field all on it's own but here are a few pointers to follow:

01. Set out your business search strings

To optimise a website the first step is to carefully select a set of keywords that will make a search string. These can’t be too generic - e.g. For a company called “aotearoa tees” trying to optimise a site for “t-shirts” is virtually impossible considering the number of sites selling or talking about t-shirts but a search string like “new zealand t-shirts” or “kiwi t-shirts” provides a better way of targetting a certain group of browsers and returning good results on the search engines.

It is a fine balance between an “optimisable search string” and selecting a string that not many would use. Just as choosing a search term that is too broad wont be effective, choosing one that is too specific limits the number of people who would use that string to find your site. Ask a number of people what they would enter when searching for your product or service - you may be surprised at what the most popular search strings would be. Google also offers some Webmaster Tools to help you establish the right keywords for your business.

Once decided set out your search strings as a top 5 and then a second 5. You will probably also have a load of extra keywords that you would want to add in. List these as well and make sure they are scattered through the site.

02. Page titles

Google and other search engines care about the Titles of the pages and the names of the pages. And these have to relate to the content of the page too.
Work one of the “top 5” search terms into the title and name of each page, with the most important search term worked into the website homepage title. Multiple pages mean multiple opportunities to work the different search terms into the various page titles. Be descriptive but not too obvious with keywords in your page titles.

03. Search Engine Friendly URLs

Make sure that the names of your pages also carry the keywords you are optimising the site for. Again using the example “aotearoa tees” a page address should be something like If you are using a content management system it should just mean calling the pages by descriptive titles. If your addresses are something like it will not help your search engine ranking.

04. Headings, images and text

Headings: Google and other search engines give the text of each page a priority and use heading styles to determine the weighting between body copy and headings. Heading 1 styles at the top of the page Heading 2 for secondary headings etc. Concentrate on working your “second five” search phrases into the H1 (largest heading style) on the pages throughout your website.

Images: As the Search engine spiders can’t view images it is important to add image description information to each image so that it can be indexed.

Text: Read through all the pages on your site to make sure you are using your search phrases and keywords as much as possible. Be careful not to over use or duplicate content on different pages as the search engines will think you are tricking them and not rate your site very highly. Internal links to other pages within your site will also help the search engine spiders to index all the pages of your site. Make sure the text on these links is descriptive where possible: e.g. “article on seo” is better than “read more”

05. Link Building

A very important step is to have links from other relevant websites as this will greatly help your ranking. Sometimes links from or can also help your position (although you have to pay for these listings). Link exchanges with compatable sites is also a good idea.

06. Sitemap file

A sitemap is a file that the search engines look for that lists all the pages on your website. You will need to update this sitemap file as pages are added or changed to ensure all your pages are indexed and that the sitemap matches your website. A good content management system (like the Hanson IWS) will create this file dynamically for you everyday behind the scenes.

There are a number of other tips and tricks and SEO changes over time so if you would like any additional help or advice putting a plan together we'd love to have a chat.