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Optimise Your Website Using Quality Content
When I first started my career in the web industry the first mountain I had to climb was to understand SEO (search engine optimisation). What is it? What does it do? And how can you achieve this? So what is SEO; it is an ongoing practice to optimise your web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic your web site receives from search engines. The main aspect that makes this a mountain and not just a small hill is the fact that there are various elements that collectively work together for you to achieve great results.
I have written previously about Google adword campaigns, keywords or phrases and having a good domain name. They all work together to optimise your site, but you need to have quality content in your site that will not only encourage people to engage with your site but will also help to optimise your site as well. You can spend hours filtering keywords and phrases into you content but why bother if the content itself is bland and uninspiring? The word ‘optimise’ means to make better or improve, you need something attractive and engaging before you can begin to improve it.
It is important to remember when writing your content that you are not only communicating to those people viewing your site, you are communicating with search engines. Unfortunately search engines cannot easily workout what your site is about without the help of SEO. Search engines crawl web sites’ looking through all these various aspects to help them return the most relevant search results to their users. Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to crawl the web, but there are and always will be limits to how search engines can operate. If you implement the right content with key phrases etc this can help you achieve thousands of visitors and attention, the wrong content can hide or conceal your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal. In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO can also help boost rankings so that when relevant content has been found, it will be placed where searchers will more readily see it. The online environment is becoming increasingly competitive, and those companies who readily use SEO will have an advantage in visitors and customers. One of the best quotes I have found during my studies is from William Strunk and is well worth keeping in mind when writing your web site copy;
"A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."
I am going to talk to you about four areas you need to consider and focus on prior to writing you content.
Accessibility – If search engines can’t determine the difference between your content and your code, your page can’t be indexed and ranked by search engines. You will enter a big black whole and be concealed within the search results.
Content –What do people actually want? What are you going to do for them? What are the benefits from using your service? Create great content, and let people do the work for you by sharing. Search engines will recognise people want your content, it is relevant to their needs, and in turn you will be ranked higher in the search results.
User Experience – The easier your site makes it to consume and share your content, the better you will do with your SEO. People don’t consume or share content that creates obstacles, even if those obstacles are only small. People lead busy lives and don’t have time to mess around. Make links that are clear and easy to use.
Marketing – Spreading the word is the most important aspect, if people do not know it’s available they will not be looking for it. Promoting your content is a necessity. Do whatever works for you (social media, blogs etc), but get the word out there.
5 Elements to consider when writing your content
Regardless of whether you are going to optimise now or later, you at least need to know what keywords you want to target and include them in the title of your content. Generally it is better if your keywords are closer to the front or beginning of your title, but the key is that they appear in the title somewhere.
If you cannot use the keyword in the title don’t worry, you can always include an alternative title in the title tag, this is a piece of code that search engines use to pull the title from.
The emphasis on keywords in the title makes practical sense from a search engine point of view. When people search for something, they want to see the keywords and phrases they used during the search in the results.
Having keywords in your title is also important when people link to you. When your keywords are there, people are more likely to link to you with the keywords in the anchor text. This is an important factor for Google to determine that a particular page is about a particular subject.
You should try to keep the length of your title under 72 characters for search purposes. This will ensure the full title is visible in a search result, increasing the likelihood of a click-through.
Your keyword = Personal Trainer
Your Title = Get a Personal Trainer for Christmas
2. Meta Description
SEO copy is not just about ranking. It’s also about the presentation of your content in a search engine. The Meta description of your content will generally be the small amount of copy in the search result below the title, which influences whether or not you get the click.
It’s debatable whether keywords in your Meta description influence rank, but it doesn’t matter if they do or don’t. You want to lead your Meta description with the keyword phrase and briefly summarise the page as reassurance to the searcher that your content will satisfy what they’re looking for.
The area highlighted in green shows where the meta description can be seen in the Google search results page.
Try to keep the Meta description under 165 characters so the full description is visible in the search result. See blogs on Google adwords: Google Adwords – The Beginners Guide and Google Adwords – Advanced Guide and Tips
If you use our CMS this may look similar, above is an example of our CMS, I have wirtten in the fields where you should include an alternative title and the meta descriptions.
Unique and frequently updated content makes search engines happy. For optimisation purposes and reader-friendliness your content should be on-topic and centered on the subject of the desired keyword phrases.
It’s generally accepted that very brief content may have a harder time ranking over a page with more substantial content. So you will want to have a content body length of at least 300 words.
It might also help to bold the first occurrence of a keyword phrase, or include it in a bulleted list. It’s also debatable whether including keywords in subheads helps with ranking, but, it doesn’t matter; subheads are simply a smart and natural place to include your keyword phrase, since that is what the page is about.
4. Keyword Frequency
Keyword frequency is the number of times your targeted keywords appear on the page. Keyword density is the ratio of those keywords to the rest of the words on the page.
It’s generally accepted that keyword frequency impacts ranking. The only way to tell if your repetition of keywords is great or if it will be considered as spam is to measure that frequency against the overall length of the content. A keyword density greater than 5.5% could find you guilty of keyword spamming, and your page could be penalized by search engines.
You don’t need to mindlessly repeat keywords to optimise. In fact, if you do, you’re likely to achieve the opposite result and possibly get you web site or that page black listed in search engines.
5. Page Links
Linking is the fundamental basis of the web. Search engines want to know you’re sufficiently “connected” with other pages and content, so linking out to other pages matters.
Here are some “rules of thumb” for linking based on generally accepted best practices:
Again, these are guidelines related to current best practices. Don’t get caught up on rules; focus on the intent behind what search engines are looking for – quality search results for people.
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