Recently, my friend Josh, who runs Jackson Photography, asked me for some basic tips to getting ranked more highly in Google.  Following are some tidbits that I shared with him that should be applicable to many others wishing to improve their rankings:

1.   Make sure your page title, and URL, if possible, contain the keywords for which you wish to rank.  Also, don’t forget to include META keyword and description tags in the head of all your HTML pages.

2.  Make sure your most important keywords are included in the body of the page several times (but don’t “keyword stuff”–make it natural), paying special attention to include them in header tags, bold them if possible, and include them in your text links back to your site–(for example:  if trying to rank for “Jackson Photography,” your link text may look like:  Try Jackson Photography for All Your Photography Needs).

3.  Use Google Toolbar’s Backward Links button to scout your competition’s links, and go after the same links!  Links are the lifeblood of rankings–the more you have (and the more established those links are–that is, those with high PageRank), the better you’ll do in the search engines.  Go to Google, search with the keywords you’d like to rank for, and visit the top 10 or 20 sites, paying attention to the incoming links to these sites.  Many will likely be directories or blogs that you can visit and submit your own site’s links!

4.  Start a blog!  The content syndication features of a blog are an SEO godsend–having a blog is almost a must to rank well today.

These are definitely the basics, but as with anything, a good grasp of the basics provides a great foundation to build your knowledge and skills!

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