If you asked five search-engine-optimisation experts how they would optimise your website, you would probably get five quite different replies, as every expert has their own ideas about the ‘web recipe’ that Google in particular is looking for.
However, there are optimisation methods that are widely accepted, and a good search engine optimiser will provide keyword research and will recommend website copy writing, and changes to the HTML code and perhaps some other technical changes to your website such as better URLs (the way the website page addresses are displayed).
Here are the main areas to focus on for search engine optimisation efforts:
- Keyword Research
- Copy Writing
- Changing the HTML Code
- Adding New Targeted Content Pages
- Keep your Content Fresh
You need to research what keywords are really being used to find websites offering your type of product or service. It can be a surprising exercise to see how searchers look for information as a group. Most people have learned to make their searches online quite specific. So they know not to search for “mexican food” if they are looking for salsa recipes. They know that they need to get specific to get highly relevant results. But people don’t always word their searches in the way you might think, and going through search term data can be very enlightening!
Once this information is analysed you should select 30 to 40 keywords or phrases to use on your site. The ideal scenario is to find search terms that get a lot of requests but do not have a lot of competition. This is a web marketer’s dream scenario. To work out what competition you have, enter your search term into Google and look at the number of results returned – that is your competition.
Don’t try to compete with everyone, that’s just plain too hard! Get into a niche ‘keyword’ area – something that people are searching for but not a lot of websites are optimizing for. The niche traffic you pick up from this targeting may well be all yours for a while – until someone else cottons on, but by then, you will have built up a base of dedicated visitors.
Solve a problem! I once heard that people go onto the web to “waste time or save time”. Generally the saving time aspect is to solve a problem. So write down the problems people may have that your service or product can solve and include these into your keywords and content.
Now turn your attention to your website’s ‘copy’, the actual words you use on each page. Search engines love lots of content, but it has to be words that are relevant to the product you sell or the service you provide. In this business content really is king!
I have seen perfectly good-looking websites with easy to use navigation and nice layout completely waste their time by not having good opening copy on their homepage. Instead, they prattle on about the history of the company and how some earnest hard working individual founded the company in 1885. Well, that’s kind of interesting, if you work for the company or own part of it! But, it is not going to help with search engines, nor will it keep your website visitors glued to your website. They want to hear about solutions to their problems – the solutions you offer.
So explain what you do by using your keywords in your sentences. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But you would be surprised how many websites actually don’t do this. Have your keywords and phrases in your first, next and last paragraphs, at the top of the page, at the bottom of the page – you get the idea! Now the trick is to make sure the copy still reads clearly. Most people speak plainly, but as soon as they begin to write it down they get clever, try to resist the temptation!
It amazes me how often organisations unnecessarily complicate the wording of their website. IT companies are the worst! I have worked in IT since 1995, yet I have gone to a competitor’s website and have not understood what they are talking about. You know the type of content I mean….
“We provide bespoke infrastructure solutions to interface with proprietary systems to deliver optimum real time on time results.”
I made that up, and even I don’t know what it means! Don’t ever be guilty of ‘sexing up” what your company does by using pompous, bloated, and overly complicated language. Keep it simple, keep it conversational, offer solutions, and your website visitors will love you.
For more information on copy writing for the web go to our website copy writing section.
Changing the Website’s HTML Code
HTML is hypertext mark-up language. It is the code that your website pages are written in. Search engines look at the HTML code when considering your rank. There are a number of areas that are important and different engines place more or less importance on some of these areas. The sections of HTML coding that are particularly important are:
- The Title Tag
- Alt Tags for images
- Text between and
- Meta Data – keywords and descriptions
- Hypertext Links
- HTML page names
Modifying these areas will help considerably with your ranking, for more information on how to do this skip to our SEO Tips page.
Adding New Content Pages
It is often a good idea to add new content to your site which is targeted to help bring in qualified visitors. This content will be optimized for your keywords, and will be integrated into your website structure; don’t just tag it on as a ‘doorway page’ that has no links pointing to it.
Imagine you sell smoking cessation products. You’ve got plenty of information about your products and you are getting some good sales. But you want to take the site up a notch, get more visitors and sell more products. What can you do? Well, you can:
- Add pages about why people should give up smoking
- Outline the risks to their health
- Give statistics on the costs of smoking
- Provide tips on how to help beat the habit
- Add in a forum where other smokers can support each other. Not only will this draw people in through search engines, but they will keep coming back for the content
Once you get started it is easy to come up with new ideas and pages for your site. The next step is to make sure your content is up to date.
Keeping Your Website Content Fresh
You should change your website each month at a minimum. Add new content, new products, and new testimonials, anything that will help your site to stay fresh and interesting. Search engines notice if your site changes frequently, and they will send their spiders to keep updating your site as you change it.
Link Popularity – Get Links to your Website
The more links pointing to your website, the more popular your website is perceived to be by the search engines. However, make sure the links are good quality links from sites that complement yours. If possible request that the link uses your keywords – not just your domain name.
Submit Your Site to the Search Engines & Directories
Manually submit your website to the top search engines and directories. Ignore any emails you get offering to submit your website to thousands of search engines as it’s a waste of money. Most people just end up with hundreds of junk emails. There really are just 20/30 search engines and directories that matter.
What rank to aim for?
Popular opinion amongst SEO’s is that a rank within the top 30 search results is the goal of optimisation. This means your site needs to be placed on the first three pages (since most engines return ten results per page).
Usability Considerations in SEO
Make sure your website is friendly to humans, not just spiders! Your website must inspire confidence, solve problems, offer solutions and ask for the sale, you must have a ‘call to action’ – even if it is just to complete an enquiry form.
Remember, that if your visitor found you through a search engine, they can hit the back button and click off to any number of your competitors, so you have to get them to stay a while. Find out how to hold their interest in our web copywriting section.