Thursday, January 6, 2011

Five Google Webmaster Tweaks to Optimize Your Rankings

With the ever expanding feature set of Google’s Webmaster Tools, it’s easy to miss some of the more essential settings and tools that can help you achieve top rankings.

In this post, I’ll cover 5 tips which will give your site the best chance of ranking well.

1. Upload Your XML Sitemap

Helps: Ensure your website is indexed

Where to find: Site configuration > Sitemaps

Uploading an XML Sitemap provides Google with a map of your website which helps them crawl your content and maximize the number of URLs which are included in their index. This is especially important for larger sites that have a large number of brand and product pages.

2. Set Your Geographic Target

Helps: Improve your position in local search results

Where to find: Site configuration > Settings

Setting your geographic target helps Google to associate your website with the particular region you are targeting. We have seen some strong positive ranking improvements for our clients after enabling this setting, so ensure it is correct for your website.

3. Look at Google’s HTML Suggestions

Helps: Improve your position in search results

Where to find: Diagnostics > HTML Suggestions

Google’s HTML suggestions include any issues that Google found when they were crawling your website. These can includes issues with duplicate or missing META information as well as any un-indexable content on your website. If Google finds any issues with your website, click on each to learn more and correct any problems.

4. Optimize Your Sitelinks

Helps: Improve click-through to core pages

Where to find: Site configuration > Sitelinks

Sitelinks are links to a site’s interior pages that can be shown in search results. Google automatically generates these links for some websites; however these can be modified using webmaster tools.

If your website is showing Sitelinks, remove any non important pages from the list.

5. Monitor Your Page Loading Times

Helps: Improve rankings and customer satisfaction

Where to find: Labs > Site performance

With Google using page speed as a ranking factor, it’s also a good idea to make sure your pages are loading as fast as possible. Use this tool to monitor the load time of pages on your website and optimize this when possible.

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