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Getting to the top of google: Lessons learned

Here is a recap of my lessons learned while on my quest to get to the top of google for my name, James Vanderzee.

So what have I learned?

First google's own must-dos:

• focus on what’s best for the visitors to my website
• use unique, accurate page titles across my website
• make good use of the description meta tags
• use “friendlier” page URLs
• make your site easy to navigate
• offer quality content and services
• write better anchor text
• use heading tags appropriately
• make effective use of robots.txt
• be aware of rel="nofollow" for links
• take advantage of web analytics services
• make use of free webmaster tools - definitely worth checking back on
• optimize use of images - I could do with some images in the first place! one for later.
• promote your website in the right ways - one for later.

Some thoughts based on lessons learned:

> seo is extremely hand-on. to put it simply: you can't leave things to run themselves when it comes to seo!

> seo takes a VERY long time indeed.

> if you want google to take you seriously you MUST ensure that your on-site 'housekeeping' is in order - on a daily basis! so... use google's webmaster tools and submit an xml sitemap (or more). at least the tools here will let you know where you may be going wrong!

> keep updating your website content. while you may see some benefit of the doubt from google for having a new site, if you don't keep your website content regularly updated you're likely to be punished for it. blogs, news, rss and so on are an effective and easy-to-manage way to do this - but avoid plagiarising!

> include keywords in your domain, page titles, descriptions, links and image alt text as well as across the editorial of site: no real surprises here, but google loves keywords and the higher up your website's heirarchy you put them (and the more places you include them) the better. nb try not to over-include keywords or you risk being perceived as a keyword spammer which will give you the opposite result.

> create a google profile: for now google may be being inconsistent for now with whether or not they actually appear, but there is no doubt that in time these will be important should you want your name on page 1 of any search.

> having multiple profiles across a range of different websites is certainly beneficial from a personal seo point of view but they are very time-consuming to maintain, particularly as you need to try to avoid replicating content across them.

> keep your blog regularly updated, and I mean at least once a week: google expects blogs to be regularly updated, so neglect yours at your peril! if you know you're going away, schedule in some posts for while you are away, even if it's a simple 'wish you were here'.

> keep on tweeting! channels such as twitter are designed to be updated regularly and as such, for now at least, google expects you to use them accordingly.

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