10 SEO tips to improve your website ranking

Reaching the first place in search engines race is a hard and long term job. Since I started my work in Elo7, we’ve been doing a lot of improvements in our platform to boost our position in search engines. I’d like to share some of these techniques with everyone. Before doing it, just a small disclaimer: if your website has a content that is adjusted to the search keywords you want be found, these tips are useful. I think this is the most important advice in SEO: you need to have good content. Content that is interesting for the people who search for specific terms.

For example, if your website has nothing to do with Michael Jackson, don’t try to make it appear in the first position for this search term. It is useless. And even if you were in the first place, you would disappoint all users, who could fall into your website and conclude that you are a liar!

Sometimes your website is full of useful content, but they are not well organized, or the HTML behind it is malformed, so search engine robots can’t grab the right data from it. If you have good content, by following these tips you will boost your performance. There is no miracle in the SEO race. You need to join good content with the right tagging techniques, and you will certainly be in a good position. Don’t try to be smarter than the search engines. You won’t!

Tip 1 – Good treatment to your Meta Tags

There are a lot of information you must put into the <header> of you HTML. Here is an example for information about a product:

<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<meta property="og:title" content="Lágrimas de Alegria | Estúdio 100 | 1A75C3" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://www.elo7.com.br/pp/lagrimas-de-alegria.jpg" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.elo7.com.br/lagrimas-de-alegria/1A75C3" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Elo7" />
<meta name="title" content="Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4 | Estúdio 100 | 1A75C3" />
<meta name="description" content="Pocket Lenço ORIGINAL Lencinhos para convidados. Envelope em papel branco textura floral + passaro Incluso 2 lencinhos de papel de bolso embalados em papel vegetal." />
<meta name="keywords" content="Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4,lagrimas de alegria,lencinho para casamento" />
<meta name="GOOGLEBOT" content="NOARCHIVE" />
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow, noarchive" />
<title>Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4 | Estúdio 100 | 1A75C3</title>
  • Use all these tags (title, description, keywords, og:*)
  • If your page content changes a lot, use noarchive tag
  • Pay attention to title and description size. Title is smaller and description must not be too big.

Tip 2 – Nice and intuitive URLs help a lot

If you can use intuitive and nice URLs, it will count a lot in your SEO ranking. Try to be organized. For example: if you have products in stores, try to use something like:

  • /products/my-beautiful-product – for the product URL
  • /categories/nice-category or /nice-category – list all products in a category
  • /stores/incredible-store – all products from a store
  • /stores/incredible-store/awesome-department – list all products for a specific department in a store

Avoid URLs like /userProfile.do?command=showUserProfile&webCode=1CC1A. They mean nothing to the search engine bots. remember also that everything that goes after the query string (the question mark (?) in the URL) is usually weaker than what comes before the question mark.

Tip 3 – Name your images properly

If you are writing about lasagna in your page content, don’t the lasagna image IMG0345.jpg in the HTML! Name it lasagna.jpg! If you have 3 lasagnas photos, name them lasagna, lasagna-sugo.jpg, lasagna-bolognesa.jpg and so on. Put meaning in you page. And don’t forget the ALT and the TITLE properties in the IMG tag. They are indispensable!

Tip 4 – The use of canonical

If you have more than one URL pointing to the same page content, use a canonical link meta tag. Search engine robots are smart, so if you have two identical pages with two different address, their relevance will go down! Use this tag and put it in your HTML HEAD:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.elo7.com.br/lagrimas-de-alegria-pocket-lenco-ftc4/dp/1A75C3" />

Tip 5 – Semantic content

HTML is a good designed language for text content. It is not good for styles (colors, font, formats, etc). For styles you use CSS and for content you use HTML. Follow HTML conventions as much as possible:

  • Put the main subject (the title) of your page in a H1 TAG.
  • In H2 tags, put subsections.
  • If you have a listings, use UL and LI.
  • Use tables just when you are really presenting a table.
  • If you want to emphasize something, use EM or STRONG tags.

If you know HTML5, which has new and very expressive TAGs for multimedia content (and other), use it!

Tip 6 – Use of schema information – semantic to the extremes

A recently launched website for the semantic web is schema.org. The purpose is to put some tags in your HTML to help robots to identify the kind of content you are serving. Differently from META tags that go in the top of your HTML HEAD, schema information go within the HTML code. Here are some examples that we used in Elo7 for product listing, for price, product description, etc.

<html lang="pt-br" itemscope itemtype='http://schema.org/Product'>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
  <span itemprop="name">Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4</span>
  <img itemprop="image" src="http://img.elo7.com.br/product/main/37C149/lagrimas-de-alegria-pocket-lenco-ftc4.jpg" alt="Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4" title="Lágrimas de Alegria Pocket Lenço FTC4">
<span itemprop="description">Pocket Lenço ORIGINAL<br>Lencinhos para convidados...</span>
  <div itemprop="offers" itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer">
     <span itemprop="price">R$ 1,90</span>
  <div itemprop="availability" href="http://schema.org/PreOrder">Prazo para produção: 15 dias</div>
  <a itemprop="url" href="http://www.elo7.com.br/marcador-de-pagina/dp/202850" />

The schema.org is still growing, but google is already considering schema information in its search engines. The complete schema taggin information can be found in schema.org website

Tip 7 – Be fast for robots

The faster your page loads, the better you will be ranked in search engine queries. Do as much page optimizations as possible in your website. For these optimizations, I recommend reading the Steve Sourders Books – High Performance Web Sites and Even Faster Web Sites. Believe it or not, if your website loads 20% faster, you can get 20% more traffic from search engines.

Tip 8 – Monitor and graph whatever you can

Everything you change in your website must be monitored, so you can make sure you are making changes in the right direction. I recommend 3 tools for it:

  • Google Analytics – watch you traffic increasing after some days of your changes. Mark in analytics the days you pushed SEO modifications into production
  • Google webmaster tools – metrics specifics for SEO. You can know how bots are crawling your site and if these bots are having problems with your code.
  • New Relic – a very powerful monitoring tool. It monitors your web server and your application, and points you hotspots of possible optimizations. Wonderful but expensive tool

Tip 9 – Backlinking

This is a very powerful but also difficult task: have as many websites as possible linking to your content. But it is possible to do. Make partnerships with bloggers, big portals, and also your users (create link banners and give it to them to put in their websites). The more links you have pointing to your website, the more relevant it will be to search engines.

Tip 10 – Be careful with javascript and flash content

Robots do not execute javascripts nor have flash player! So, if your content is dynamically loaded using javascripts, you will need to change it, or have an alternative version of it in pure HTML.

An example of something that happen with us in Elo7: our products pages has 5 pictures for each product. The first main was a IMG tag, but the others were loaded using a javascript, just when the user clicked in the small thumbs of these images. For performance reasons, this is an intelligent strategy, because the browser does not need to load all images when the user goes to the page. The result was that just 1/5 of our website image where indexed in search engines. The solution was to put the other images in link <A HREF> tags. With this approach, the images are not loaded until the user clicks it, leaving the page fast; and the robots follow the link, so these images are indexed. Take a look of what happen to our SEO ranking when we did this small change in our HTML. The graph bellow (from Google Webmaster tools) shows that the quantity of listed itens more that double after the images started to appear to the robot:

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