tipsSEO is permanently evolving, but certain basics stay the same: Whether a fashion shop, a travel portal or an online electronics supplier, decisive for the success of any online sales channel is, that its website appears on the first page of search results on Google & Co.

However, many sites have fundamental structural and technical deficiencies, which cause the ranking of the websites to be lower and, thus, they record fewer visitors. The Loewenstark Online Marketing GmbH, which supports Internet companies in optimizing their websites for over thirteen years, has compiled ten basic tips for a successful web site optimization.

Ten basic SEO tips for web site optimization:

1. Meta-data: Create the title tag and the description tag properly

Title and Description are part of the HTML code and still among the most important SEO ranking factors for Google & Co. They succinctly describe what is on that page and serve as a kind of website preview that is displayed to the user in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages / search results). "These two meta tags should be short and informative, contain the main keywords and have the optimum length - the title tag should not exceed 55 characters and the description tag should have a maximum of 150 characters," said Marian Wurm, CEO and co-founder of Loewenstark Online Marketing GmbH.

2. Page speed: Optimize page loading time

The page loading time has a great influence on the evaluation of the site by Google. "Anything over three seconds should be considered critical and can cost the website owners money and customers." warns expert Wurm. Especially large, poorly scaled images, too many plug-ins or complex Flash animations slow down the loading time. "The performance of a website can be improved in various ways - for example by compressing data, which is sent from the server to the user. This is the so-called gzip-compression”, says Wurm.

3. Content is king, keywords are queen: Write original texts properly

Key evaluation criteria for Google & Co. remain the number and the quality of texts that appear on the relevant website. Good content encourages you to linger, is exclusive, has a high editorial quality standard, and is unique. An optimum website text is 300-500 words long and contains the main and specific keywords. "Pictures and graphics should be SEO optimized as well, by marking the so-called “alt” attribute within an HTML text for Google, and explaining their content," says Wurm.

4 Avoid duplicate content

"Duplicate Content" occurs if the same or similar content is displayed on several pages which have different URLs. Duplicate content within your website can lead to a worse ranking on Google. It is a common problem with online stores that display identical products on multiple pages. However, there is a solution: "Via the so-called canonical tag, the website operators may indicate the original source of the text and this way avoid a lower rating of both sites by Google," says Wurm.

5. Build the text structure properly

SEO-optimized website texts have a clear structure, which visually subdivides heading tags (“h1” to “h6”) into separate sections through HTML-tags. Thus, the content is made attractive and legible for the reader. Through such formatting, Google will also recognize what content is most relevant and which is not.

6. Presentation of content: Adjust your website for mobile users:

As more and more users access the internet through their smartphone or tablet, it is important to optimize your website for mobile use. Therefore each website should either have a specially created mobile version, or be equipped with the web design technique "responsive web design", in order to be able to adapt to smaller screens. "Website operators that do not take into account mobile users, not only weaken their website, but also loose valuable traffic", says Wurm.

7. Manage Google by using robots.txt and sitemap.xml

The Crawl optimization is an important tool to guide the Google bot into the right direction. Robots.txt and sitemap.xml are two files that are in the background of the site and control the page views by Google. In the robots.txt, Google & Co. find instructions on what is to be indexed and what should not be indexed - which is handy if there are, for example, certain sub-pages which are being changed. With the sitemap.xml you provide Google with important information about the structure of the website, which enables lateral entry into the pages.

8. Error 404: Install a permanent forwarding

If the URL of a site is changed or product e.g. pages that are deleted in an online store, it is important to set up forwarding on these pages - ideally a "Redirect permanent" (301), also known as a permanent server-side redirect. This transmits the forwarding PageRank – therefore the rankings at Google remain and the 404 Error "Page not found" is avoided.

9. Apply internal links optimally

If you want to rank high in Google & Co., you will require a clean internal linking of the individual pages. This can be achieved for example by a user-friendly site navigation, the use of keywords in the anchor text or an easily comprehensible sitemap. "The number of internal links, especially from the home page, should be as small as possible and not exceed 100 if possible," adds Wurm. " This will ensure that the sub-pages still carry enough punch for their own ranking "

10. Make use of the Google Webmaster Tool

The Google Webmaster Tool serves as a kind of communication channel between Google and the site operator. It provides information on crawling errors, internal and external links and can, through a variety of configuration options, guide Google the right way. "The tool is especially important if manual punishments were made by Google," says Wurm. "It's the only way to contact Google and ask them to cancel the sanctions after completion of repairs. In addition, you can point out especially important content to Google by using the Data Highlighter."

Considering all these tips will for sure boost your ranking.

By Roger Stadler