Tips to get you started with search engine optimisation.
Search Engine Optimisation, or “SEO”– the art of tweaking your online presence to appear highest in search engine listings - has become a sector of its own in the technology world.
This has become a more and more difficult task, as the search engines themselves are beginning to learn themselves what best to display, based on complex algorithms – even many of the programmers aren’t certain how it works.
However, we can offer a few tips to get most folks started – the basics, or rather, the necessities in order to ensure your website isn’t dragged down the listings for not meeting the mark.
Making sure your website will be clearly readable across all devices and web browsers is critical. If your website doesn’t scale up and fit the screen on a mobile device, it’s a big black spot against your name.
Make sure your content is of a high quality too. Well-written paragraphs, well laid out pictures of appropriate quality and size. Yes, Google is smart enough to judge you on your creative writing abilities!
Most importantly for content however, is make sure it is original. No copy and pasting from other sources – Google will know and will mark you down. Never mind any legal action that might be taken should the original author find out!
Sharing is Caring
Making sure your online platforms are linked together is a big factor. Being able to get from your website, to your Facebook page to your Instagram profile is critical. Setting up a Google business account is recommended as well, allowing you to control how you appear on Google, with your official website, location and opening times being but a few things you can control.
Linking to external websites is important too. Partnering up with other businesses to link to each other’s sites looks good, especially if they compliment each other. For example, if you have a camping website, could you link to a local outdoors shop, and vice-versa? Even if it’s not for the benefit of SEO, it’s a nice advertising method in any case.
There are also a few things you can do behind the scenes that your web developer might have taken care of already – readability and good accessibility for those with vision impairments - including appropriate “tags” and alternative titles & texts for images and links.
Search engines also like to know what to say about pages when displaying them to the public. Make sure your pages have appropriate description and title tags, rather than the search engine simply taking the first paragraph from the page it’s looking at!
And a final note – it used to be that having good “Keywords” was a big factor in attracting attention to your website.
Keywords are phrases or words you were expecting someone to type when they were looking for something. Somebody looking for a local freight company might search for “Orkney Haulage”. So you’d want to make sure you had as many possible terms as you could – including spelling mistakes. It wasn’t uncommon to see dozens of variations – “haulage” “haulier” “freight” “post” “delivery” all to try and catch everyone with a big net!
These days, most search engines don’t bother with them, instead taking the information directly from the website’s content. It’s also been noted that websites trying to use this old methods have even been marked down for it.
These are a few of the most common pitfalls, and tips to counter them. However, this is by no means a comprehensive guide. There are many large companies out there specialising in web optimisation – going to an incredible depth of tweaking and twiddling to make sure their sites are always on top. But hopefully this should be enough to get you started!