Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the act of optimising your website so that search engines will favour it and push you site up the search result list.
There are many things to consider when carrying out SEO, the most important of these are :
The main reason people are going to visit your site is to view your content. The content you place on your site should be informative, relevant and accurate. You should ensure you regularly add new content as this will show the search engines that your site is being updated and is active as well as providing repeat visitors with a reason to keep coming back.
When creating content, you should be thinking of keywords and phrases that you think your clients will search for. You should weave these into the content in such a way that it still reads well and makes sense but don’t overdo it, you need to strike a balance, amount of content vs number of key words. Each keyword should be used at least 3-4 times per page with the upper limit dependant on the content length. The measure of keywords vs content length is known as keyword density. Be aware that if it is too high the page will get marked as spam and will suffer a low ranking, optimum keyword density is between 5%-7%. If possible it is advisable to optimise your pages so that you have one keyword you are promoting per page. Place the most important keywords on your home page.
Another important aspect of keywords is their placement, the closer to the beginning of the document they are the better the page will rank. Keywords in headings are a very effective means of getting your pages ranking higher.
Also consider key phrases that users will likely search for, key phrases are a collection of words in a particular order and should be used in the same way that keywords are used, if you can weave your keywords into your key phrases all the better. Consider the context that your keywords are popularly used in and tailor you phrases to suit. Try to use your key words in your navigation menu and in your page urls.
Content should be broken into short paragraphs, each with its own sub heading which is relevant. Space the paragraphs and use a decent size font, where you have a vast quantity of content, consider splitting it over several context specific pages, the optimum amount of content per page is 500-3000 words and the closer to 3000 you are the more hits you are likely to get.
Use The Strong tag or create links
Use the strong tag to embolden key words or make them into links, search engines pay special attention to words and phrases that have formatting that make them stand out, using the strong tag around keywords is an effective way to do this. On the subject of links, you should not use phrases like “read more” for links, instead, try to use more meaningful phrases or use keywords that actually link to content that is closely related to that key word. Use your key word in the text of links, these can be links to the page on your site or even external pages on other sites.
Number of pages
Generally speaking, the more pages you have, the greater your chances of getting to the top of the search engines, that is, as long as the search engine considers the content to be of value. Adding content on a regular basis will be considered in a positive light so this should be done as often as possible but only where you can add content that has value.
Try to avoid using nested pages or sub pages, a page will be considered more significant if it is at the root of your site. Definitely avoid nesting your pages deeper than 2 levels as this greatly affects the navigability of your site, especially on mobile devices where the menus can be fiddly at the best of time. Try and ensure that any page of your site is accessible via no more that three clicks.
Finally for formatting you should use lists where it makes sense to do so. If you have a list of items then use the ul or ol (un-ordered/ordered list) tags. These present the list in a way the search engine can digest and bring semantic value to the list.
Meta data is data which describes data. In the case of a website it means the following:
When creating a page you should consider the page title carefully. The page title can be set in the document header and as far as the search engine are concerned it is the single most important piece of data a page has. Ensure the content on that page relates well to the page title, try to use your keywords in the title. The title will be displayed by the search engines so remember to try and captivate people with them. Limit the title to around 80 characters as this is normally as much as the search engine display.
The page description will not affect page ranking particularly but it is used by search engines when they display the search results. It is more likely to be used if it is deemed relevant to the page content. It is advisable to include keywords and phrases in the page description as well as being aware you are using it to try and get the user to visit your site.
Image alt tags
these are pieces of information attached to images the describe what the image is. Alt tags are useful if the user is viewing your site in text only mode or they have a screen reader. They also help the search engines to identify what value the image has.
Meta tags are a bit old hat, they are not really used by search engines any more and it is the individuals choice as to whether to include them. If they are included, they should be the keywords you have chosen to use on the page.
Other Sites Linking to your Pages
One of the most important factors that affects your pages ranking is how many other quality sites link to it. If you have hundreds of sites linking to a page, that page is going to be considered of value. Likewise, if a site that has a very high ranking links to you it is considered of more value than a lowly ranking site.
If possible, try and get other sites to place the link to your site on a page that has value, for example a site that uses a “links” page that contains loads of links including yours is of little value (avoid using these on your site) whereas if they placed it on their highest ranking page it would have a much greater effect on your pages ranking. Again, if possible, the label attributed to the inbound link should contain the keyword of the page it is linking to. Links from anyone (quality pages/sites) will be beneficial but links from sites that are related to yours are even better.
Google offers a suite of freely available tools designed specifically to make it easier for you to manage the traffic coming to your site as well as a host of other activities and monitoring tools.