Part 2: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
For the second part of Top Tips in Writing for the Web, I'm going to cover SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation). One of the main goals for businesses at the moment is ranking at the top of the search listing. I aim to cover the basic principles of SEO to ensure your website is fully optimised from the start.
Keywords are individual words or a set of phrases that you want your website to be searchable for. The rules have evolved over time to prevent underhand tactics to boost search rankings, but the general consensus for best practice at the moment is to integrate your search term into your page copy, in the same way, someone would type a search into Google to find your business.
e.g. Affordable web designer in Brighton
The key areas to incorporate such search terms are:
- Metadata (page details),
- Header 1 (Main heading),
- and in the first sentence of the web page.
It has to look like a natural piece of copy. If it looks like deliberate keyword stuffing, then Google will penalise you and it will have the reverse effects in search rankings.
Image information for SEO is often overlooked because the details sit behind the scenes. However, that doesn't mean they aren't important!
Quick wins include:
Ensure all your images have been saved with titles that best describe what it shows e.g. 'Dog-running-in-field.jpg'.
Make sure you save the image size that you intend to use on your page. If you upload a large file, but only use the image as a thumbnail, it will slow your page load. No one likes waiting, so you will risk readers getting frustrated and going elsewhere.
I recently wrote a guest post for photographer Clare Murthy: How to Optimise Photos for SEO where you can read in more detail what to do, and just as important, what not to do when working with imagery on your website.
Headers are crucial in SEO
The importance of headers is twofold: To tell the reader what that page is about, with the main heading (Also known as Header/Heading 1) being the most informative summary, followed by the sub-headers which provide further breakdown summaries in order of importance (These are known as H2, H3 etc…).
The second reason why Headers are crucial is down to search engines, (such as Google), needing to be able to scan your pages for the information within these headers. These indicate the importance of the keywords and phrase used for indexing in the search listing.
Careful thought is needed to craft attention grabbing headings that are still able to meet SEO best practice.
Links embedded in the text
Keep traffic flowing through your website by adding links to other (credible) websites. But they must be relevant and back up the text it is referring to. This shows that traffic flows in and out of your website, therefore remaining making you relevant and popular enough to be indexed by search engines.
Remember to set the link to open in new window if it is pointing to a third party website.
You may have heard this term banded around like some magic formula for search, but website metadata is just a summary overview for each page that sits on your website.
When you first set up a page, you will need to provide the following:
(Not to be confused with Header 1 or Browser title.)
This will be the title shown in your search results, and you will be prompted for the details when you first set up your new page.
As a rule of thumb, you should keep it short, include your website name, and the keywords you are targeting.
e.g. Bright Little Pixel | Affordable Website designer
This is a snippet of information shown in the search results. It should provide a summary of what you are offering and the inclusion of your keywords. But don’t be repetitive.
e.g. Bright Little Pixel is a Brighton based affordable website and content design service, for individuals and small businesses wanting to launch online.
Take a look at websites that rank highly in Google and you will see they all follow a similar formula.
Keep adding new content!
The easiest way to do this is to have a blog on your website. Following the rules above and building up your fan-base of readers, will be a surefire way of climbing up the search rankings!
Try to have regular themes such as 'Mood-board Monday' so your readers will know when to visit for the latest content.
That concludes my Writing for the Web quick wins. It's been a real pleasure writing these tips for you to follow. I hope it has been helpful and informative and I look forward to seeing the results!