|Search Engine Optimisation for websites|
The role of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is to optimise a website to make it as visible as possible to internet search engines, in order to increase their rankings, maximise traffic to them and therefore increase their revenue through sales or advertising.
Search engines, especially Google, are very reluctant to reveal how their algorithms work so it is impossible to specify exactly how to optimise a website's search engine performance perfectly, however there are still some tools and techniques which are known to improve a website's visibility to search engines. It is these SEO tools and techniques that are discussed here.
Here are our top 10 ways to quickly and easily improve your website SEO...
- Web Page Names...
- Web Page Titles...
- Headings and Sub Headings...
- Keywords & Description...
- Page Load Speed...
- Mobile Friendliness...
- Google Accounts...
1 - Web Page Names:As well as the obvious choice of the name of the website itself it is also important to consider how you name each individual web page. The name of the web page is the second thing a search engine will read, after the website name itself, so it is an important opportunity to include keywords and describe what content is on the page. When designing a website, page names are usually saved as all one word, for example 'web design' becomes 'webdesign', as it is quicker to type and easier to remember.
TIP: You may consider instead saving it as web-design or web_design as it allows search engines to identify the two separate words, which are both keywords, instead of not recognising the singular word 'webdesign'. Also avoid using abbreviations for page names, for the same reason.Back To Top
2 - Web Page Titles:The title of a web page is written in the HTML code in the head section of the webpage and appears in the top of the browser window or in the tab of newer browsers. See a sample code and sample result below.
The title of a web page is extremely important as is showcased by the fact that it is the first and largest thing in the Google search results. See the example below, the title is in blue. This is clear evidence that search engines, such as Google and Bing, give great importance to a webpages' title.
3 - Article Headings and Sub Headings:Headings, created with the 'h1', 'h2', 'h3', elements are important for highlighting these Keywords. As they are headings and not just body text they are seen as being more important for describing, in short, the content that will follow. Therefore try to integrate relevant headings into the content of your website for better SEO but also for another reason.
In today's fast paced world people don't really read articles or webpages, they skim through them to try to quickly find the content they are looking for. By using headings and sub headings in your webpages you are breaking up any long, boring looking passages of text into smaller, more manageable chunks and helping your visitors with this process and they are therefore more likely to find the content they need and stay on your website longer.
TIP: as well as helping with search engine optimisation they will also help with your website pages bounce rate.Back To Top
4 - Keywords and Description:When someone uses a search engine they normally don't type full sentences like 'I am looking for information on design' , they usually just type in 'design' or 'design information', in this case 'design' and 'information' are the keywords. It is important that your website contains the key words relative to it.
This used to be done using meta tags, some search engines still use meta tags, but due to the practice of keyword 'stuffing' (repeating key words over and over) search results were beginning to become unreliable as the best/ most relevant pages were not necessarily making it to the top of the rankings.
Google admits it no longer uses meta tag keywords, although it still does use the meta tag descriptions and the description usually appears as the sentence below the website title (in blue) and address (in green)in the search results. See the example below,
The code for meta tag keywords and descriptions goes in the head section of the HTML code, as it is information about the page but it does not appear on the page itself (otherwise it would go in the body section). To see an example of meta tag code see the example below,
Although meta tags are useful, it is much more important to include the keywords, that you think potential visitors will be searching under in the website content itself. Despite all the tools, techniques and tricks associated with SEO it still all comes down to the quality of content in the website. As they say in the search engine optimisation business "content is king!".
With this SEO mantra in mind, be sure to tweak the body text to include as many keywords or keyword synonyms as possible, without of course, ruining the content itself. The quality of the content must remain high as ,even if you get to number 1 in the search engine rankings, when visitors come and don't find the information they are looking for they will leave the site just as quickly as they arrived and that is bad for your SEO (see bounce rate below).
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5 - Web Links:Links, in two senses, can help a website's ranking in search engine results. Firstly, by linking your website with other websites and getting them to link back to you, you are enhancing your website's online reputation and demonstrating that it is a trustworthy and safe website for visitors. Search engines regard trust and safety highly as they do not wish to lead searchers to an unsafe or virus filled website.
Secondly, the links within your website are another opportunity to include keywords in the content. As links are 'marked up' in a different way to normal body text it is only logical to presume that search engines will read it in a different way to standard body text.
TIP: It is believed that all content "Marked Up" differently to standard body text is read differently by search engines and possibly given greater importance. Therefore, make good use of links and bold, underline and italics text to subtly increase emphasis on your chosen keywords.
The click-able content of the link and the link title (which should be included on every link) should be descriptive enough to let the website visitor find the information they need which in turn keeps the visitor on your website for longer and increases the sites traffic statistics while also reducing the 'bounce rate'.
The 'bounce rate', according to Google Analytics, is 'the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality and a high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren't relevant to your visitors. By having clear and obvious links, especially in the menu section, visitors are more likely to stay on your website and search for the information they need. So it can be assumed that Google will punish a website with a high bounce rate as it suggests visitors are not finding the content they expected.
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6 - Images:
|Optimising your website images and their html code will help with SEO|
With the evolution of search engines people can now search directly for images or videos without having to go through the site on which they are hosted. Despite this, search engine haven't evolved to the point where they can directly extract the meaning from a photo or a video. Therefore search engines are still reliant on the information we provide them through names, alt attributes, title attributes, headings and surrounding content.
The simplest thing you can do to increase the meaning of 'img' elements is to use proper file names. For example, let's say we have a web page about web design and I took a photo of someone sitting at their computer that I then wanted to post up on the page. Cameras will auto-generate a file name to my photo, such as DIM1234.jpg, so it is important to rename it to something that specifies the content of the image such as web-designer-at work.jpg. Now the URL of the image will be something like http://example.com/web-designer-at-work.jpg. The image now has a better chance of being indexed for terms such as 'web design' and 'designer at work'. The image may eventually rank in the results for Google Images and drive traffic to your website.
The second aspect involved in optimizing images for SEO is placing important keywords in the image's alt and title attributes. Here's another example,
<img alt= "web designer at work.jpg" title="web designer at work" src="web-designer-at work.jpg">
The alt attribute is typically regarded as the primary attribute of an image that a search engine will use for gaining context. But don't stuff keywords in them, write your alt attributes primarily for your visitors. Search engines view alt attribute keyword 'stuffing' as a bad practice and may remove your image from search results.
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7 - Videos:
|Optimising your web videos and their html code will help with SEO|
Much like images, videos can't be crawled by their content. However, there are metadata that you can include to help search engines understand what the video is about. The main thing to optimize is the title of the video, especially when you're using a third party streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Secondly, add keyword tags to videos when uploading them to YouTube and Vimeo which they use in their site search. Another element that affects the search results of a video is the video's description. The description is an opportunity to include the keywords that you wish the video to be found under, without 'stuffing' of course. A good description will go a long way to increasing the videos ranking in search engine results.
Another way to increase ranking in the search results for videos is to get as many views, Facebook Likes and +1's on your video as possible. This is based on the logical assumption that search engine algorithms take social sites into account as a ranking factor. If your video gets a substantial amount of Facebook Likes compared to other videos in the same category, there is a higher chance it will rank better for your targeted keywords.
So search engine optimisation for images and videos takes little time to implement and can provide significant results, especially in niche markets. For example, when you're having trouble getting a page or article to rank for a competitive keyword in your niche, posting an optimized video or image may help you get a leg up. As already mentioned, search engines can't index the actual content of an image or a video, but we can provide them with greater meaning and context using the simple and practical techniques we have discussed.
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8 - Page Load Speed:
|Page load speed is now a recognised factor in SEO|
The page loading speed of your website is now known to have an effect on how Google ranks it in it's listings. A faster loading website is immediately more user friendly and with studies showing users will click out of a website if a webpage is not at least partially loaded after 3 seconds then having a website optimised for speed is a must.
Google provides an excellent resource to test the speed of your webpages, in desktop and mobile terms, and then outlines possible improvements with links to articles on how to go about it. This very useful resource is referred to as the Google Page Speed Insights and can be found here.
TIP: Images, videos, ads and any widgets will always be the main culprits for slowing down a webpage but don't rush to delete valuable content, just optimise what is needed and remove anything unnecessary.Click here for more tips to improve your website loading speed.
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9 - Mobile Friendliness:
|Mobile friendliness is now a factor in SEO|
A noticeable feature on the Google page speed insights results which also appears on Google AdSense and Analytics account pages is a reference to mobile friendliness. It may appear under different names such as user experience or site responsiveness or mobile compatability but the point remains the same; Google values how mobile friendly a website is. In each of these cases you will get a rating or score for your website and a link or links to articles'tutorials on how to improve it. Why is this relative for SEO you ask; because if Google are going to the effort of encouraging you to improve it and assisting you in doing so then you can be sure they are factoring it into their search algorithm.
As with the page speed, you should not go deleting valuable content or spoiling your websites design just to achieve a better score but a few small tweaks or removal of secondary content when an article is being viewed on a mobile device should be considered. Page load speed is a major factor in mobile friendliness but don't forget font sizes, spaced links (tap targets) and a clean simple layout.
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10 - Create a Google Account:A Google account allows SEO Specialists to utilise their online tools, such as Google Webmaster (Search Console), analytics or web optimiser tools. As well as these extensive tools, the simple but vital act of submitting a website to be included in the Google rankings can only be done if you have a Google account.
Having these tools at your disposal is one thing but it is vital that you utilise them effectively and use them often. SEO techniques change frequently, so a large part of the SEO Specialist's job involves research, self-study and reading in order to stay up to date with developments in the industry. Thereafter you will be responsible for analysing the website statistics that these tools provide in order to monitor the effectiveness of the website and make adjustments as necessary.
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*If you found this article useful you may also enjoy our Image SEO, Create A Website or Web Development Resources articles.