Web guru Ed Sexton offers tips to put your website at the top of the search engines

Increasing the traffic to your website and reaching the right people doesn’t require an agency of web experts. These five areas offer simple ways for any firm to ensure it gets more attention.

Google wants to provide the sites most relevant to the search term entered and does this primarily by looking at your page content and other sites linking to you. Thus improving your position on Google – called search engine optimisation (SEO) – boils down to improving your site’s content and increasing the links coming to it.

Content is the best place to start as the better your content, the more links you are likely to get. Content consists of all the text, images and videos as well as a number of invisible tags, hidden in your page’s code.

See 'Enhance your online presence' graphic below.

1 Content focus

Make sure the content of your site is concentrated on one theme. Consider the search terms you would like people to find your site with. For example, it will be difficult to be the first result on Google for the word “architect” but “sustainability architect in Newcastle” could push you higher up the search results, which encourages more hits. Identify your strengths and the words associated with them and incorporate these into your page content where relevant. Don’t overuse or spam your pages with words, though. It’s important that it all still makes sense to users.

2 Title and meta description tags

These are two of the most important pieces of content on each web page. Title tags appear at the top of the page and as the blue underlined title in Google search results. Meta description tags appear as the description in the search result.

They are found in your page code and can be changed by whoever runs your website, but are preferably written by whoever best knows your business and customers. They must be unique to the page they are on, descriptive of the page content and not more than 10-15 words for title tags and 20-25 for description tags.

Have a look at the tags of a site such as the BBC (by typing "site:www.bbc.co.uk" into Google) for good examples.

3 Blogs

Corporate sites often have the same types of pages – contact us, who are we, case studies, office map, news releases. Much of this information is rarely updated and it doesn’t provide much relevant or unique content for Google to search.

A blog written by a senior employee, such as the chief executive, can provide useful and interesting content as well as giving the business an outlet to engage directly with customers. It may also set you apart from the competition. Free tools such as Blogger and Wordpress make this easy to implement.

4 Google Webmaster Tools

Google will help you to improve your site for free. Just register your site on Google Webmaster Tools to receive detailed information about your site’s visibility in the search results. This includes page errors and reports, and allows you to submit a site map which will greatly improve your indexation in Google’s results.

5 External links

Good content will attract links to your site, but you can improve things further by looking for links from other relevant sites. It’s not just the quantity of links that matters; the quality and relevance of the sites are important too.

Encourage your customers to link to you by providing them with useful unique content for their site, such as a project case study, with a link to your site at the end of it.

Find out who links to your competitors by going to Yahoo Site Explorer. If someone links to your rival, you can give them a reason to link to you too.