Top Tips to Make Sure your Website is Search Engine Friendly

 SEO Basics.png

Source: Pixabay

SEO is surprisingly not all about keywords, there are other factors which need taking into consideration. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to make sure your website is search friendly

Introduction

You could be mistaken for thinking SEO is just about keywords but you’d be wrong, there are lots of other factors which need consideration. You see search engines don’t see web pages like us, an all singing and dancing site built with Flash may look amazing to you and me, but here’s the thing; there is unlikely to be enough information for the search engine bots to index and this could have a negative impact in local search results.

The best websites needs to be designed for both humans and search engines and here are some tips to ensure your business website is search friendly.

1) Content

Most of your content should be in HTML text  that’s because search engines read text much easier than images, JavaScript or Flash, which is largely ignored. Of course, nobody wants a website which is just words, even if they are written by a professional like myself.  They are unlikely to capture the user’s attention on their own and anyone involved in digital marketing will tell you that images, videos etc are vital for a great website. Here are 5 ways to ensure your website’s visual content can be recognised by search engines.

  1. Always include text on pages that contain Java or Flash plug-ins.
  2. Add navigation or crawlable links to your search boxes
  3. Upload transcripts or closed captions to video content which will make them searchable
  4. Assign “alt attributes” to all your images,  while the search engine bots cannot recognise an image they can recognise a text description.
  5. Use HTML5 instead of Flash

Another essential feature of your  web content is; it needs to be unique. Google loves original material their ultimate aim is to provide the user with the best online experience possible, which means giving them variety, choice and relevant information. Duplicate content doesn’t do this, it will not improve your ranking and you may even end up being penalised.

(For 100% original content writing contact ukcontentwriter1@gmail.com) 

Duplicate content does not necessarily mean plagiarism, You may have lots of it within your website without even knowing as it can be caused by several things including;

  • Tracking parameters
  • Session IDs
  • Scrapers
  • Printer friendly pages
  • Www and non-www websites
  • Comment pagination

Now this may all sound complicated for the average business owner, however, one way you can check if you have duplicate content is to use  Google Webmaster Tools. Don’t worry if you do, there are ways of removing it just have a chat with your web designer

2) Title Tags

Title tags are considered one of the most important elements of SEO and getting them right is vital in making your website search friendly. The aim is to create a title that does 2 things; captures the user’s attention while making the search engine sit up and take notice too.

Title tags should be under 60 characters inlength so the user can view it in its entirety meaning they understand what the content is about, They should contain your main keyword, usually at the beginning and where possible a benefit, which could be just giving the user information

Having a meaningful title tag for every page of your website will make it much more search friendly

3) Sitemaps

blank sitemap

Source:Pixabay

A Sitemap is a fantastic way to have all your website’s pages indexed by the search engines. It is an XML file that lists all the URLs your website has, with additional metadata about every one. All websites and even blogs should have a sitemap because it informs the search engines of any changes to your pages and enables the crawlers to follow links to all your pages. This means you need to rely less on external links bringing them to your site.

Implementing a sitemap is simple and involves 3 steps

  1. First, you need to generate the sitemap, some sitemap generators include

2. Secondly you need to upload it to your website

3. Finally tell Google about it, by adding the site to your Google Sitemaps account. This useful guide tells you how.

Rich Snippets

When you conduct an online search, you are often presented with reviews, locations, ratings and pictures for a particular site, which is acheived by using rich snippets. Rich snippets are structured data mark ups that web designers include in the HTML that help search engines understand the information contained on the page.

example of rich snippets

Source:Flickr (image credit Martin Hepp)

 

Transfer this to practically any business, a nice image, good reviews, and detailed information, electricians, for example, could mark up; free estimates, customer ratings,  location, 24 hour call outs,  all things that would make someone more likely to click onto their website.

Using Schema markup to implement rich snippets will help Google deliver a better experience for users and studies have found that sites using Schema markup rank around 4 positions better than those without.

Despite a relatively low number of businesses using this great tool, Google presents schema-derived markups in approximately  36% of results. If the search engines can read your page clearly, this will be passed on to the user, resulting in your page ranking higher. A Win Win situation!

Remove Hidden Text

In the past, “Black Hat” tactics were commonly used by  webmasters who used hidden text to stuff keywords onto pages

However, Google put a stop to this, programming its algorithms to penalise websites that had hidden text. Great, you may think, cracking down on sneaky “Black Hat” tactics is good, right?

Well, yes, but unfortunately some websites could inadvertently have some hidden text for example if you use a free web host provider which includes adverts on your site or you have text informing people using a certain browser that they won’t be able to access some features of the site, because this can’t be seen on the other browsers it is classed as hidden text, maybe you have some text  in a similar colour as the background,  use third party scripts, or have a drop-down menu for navigation any of these may be perceived as hidden text.

If Google detects any hidden text it will have a massive impact on your website and it may even be removed but the good news is you can check for hidden text by holding down the “a” and “control” key on your keyboard

Conclusion

These are just the basics, once you’ve nailed this you can concentrate on the more familiar aspects of SEO such as short and long-tail keywords, fast loading times, local map listings and social media. Search engine optimisation can be a lengthy process but done correctly will increase traffic to your website, bring in more leads and help you rank higher in the SERPs, which will result in more business.

Our web content in Newcastle includes SEO as standard 

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HOW TO WRITE FOR THE PET INDUSTRY

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Us Brits are barking mad about our furry friends, with over 24% of us owning a dog closely followed by 17% being ‘owned by a feline’. Therefore, it’s no surprise the market for freelance writing in the pet industry is huge. New products are being launched every day and pet lovers are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of their beloved furbabies.

The bonus, for a freelancer and pet owner like myself, is that it’s enjoyable writing about something you love and usually doesn’t involve too much research. Here are some tips if you’d like to write for one of the largest and most profitable markets out there:

Firstly, unless you have a dog like Marley or a moggy who’s changed your life similar to Street Cat Bob, nobody wants to hear about the antics of your pets in great detail, especially if – as a lot of people tend to do on Social Media – you give them language skills and weird accents. Dogs having a ‘wuffly barkday’ and cats being ‘purrfectly groomed’ are a big no-no! If you really feel the need to  turn your pet into a celebrity, stick to YouTube or Instagram. By all means, write about your experiences with a health problem, training tip or new product, but from your point of view, not Fido’s.

There are always new and innovative products for pets, so check out the upcoming trends. For example, this year has seen an increase in organic, and handmade treats and breed-specific diet foods. The popularity of teacup breeds has seen an increase in the sale of dog clothes and trendy designer bags for transport. All these products need descriptions, reviews, web content and blogs to make them successful in a competitive market.

Training is something every responsible dog owner should do. You don’t have to be Cesar Milan to write about it. Write about your own experiences or interview a local rescue centre employee to get their tips. There is a world of information on the net – try writing from a different angle. Consider different environments, seasonal aspects or situations that require special training:

  • ‘Training tips that could save your dog’s life in the city’;
  • ‘Dog Etiquette at the beach’; and
  • ‘How to train a Gun Dog’

There are also options here to write about the various methods of horse training for different sports – polo, dressage etc.

Healthcare is one of the most popular searches about pets, and, as mentioned, you don’t have to be an expert to produce work on a vast range of topics on every pet imaginable. From how to check a horse’s hooves, to why snakes shed their skin. Breed, or species-specific health issues, are always popular. Once again, try to approach things from a different angle in order to make your articles or blog posts stand out from the crowd.

Most owners have a profound interest in providing the best basic care for their pets, whether it’s how to clip your cockatoo’s claws without getting injured, how to build a playground for guinea pigs or how your pony benefits from a massage. Articles of this kind are unique – the writer explains what has worked for them. These are the tips that everyone is looking for to enhance the pet owner experience.

People love to spend time with their animals. Writing about activities and pet-friendly holidays can be a great income booster. Once again, try to mix it up, don’t just concentrate on local agility classes or cat-friendly hotels. What about, ‘How to Teach your Dog to Surf’, ‘Dog Dancing Classes’, ‘Rabbit Racing’ or ‘Yoga with Cats‘? (I kid you not!)

You can also integrate writing about equipment into this one. For instance, ‘The Top Ten Dog Sledding Harnesses’ or ‘Five Essential Items of Dog Equipment to take on your Camping Trip’.

In contradiction to my earlier comment, about nobody wanting to read the day-to-day antics of Floppy the rabbit or Fifi, the neurotic poodle. This changes when an exceptional event occurs or the human/pet relationship is extra special. There are numerous heroic pets that have a story to tell, working as military or search and rescue dogs. There are even ‘Therapy pigs and ferrets‘. (Once again, I know, unbelievable … right?)

Pets have amazing senses and can often recognise illness early and prevent seizures, actually saving lives. These stories are the ones readers are interested in.

Whatever you choose, be it a breed profile or the story of a puppy adopted by a lion, the possibilities are endless. You can overlap the topics, write seasonal articles or interview experts. Not only will you find the writing enjoyable, but, because we all love our pets, you can be sure that someone out there wants to read it.

© Donna Hepburn 2016

 

 

 

 

FIVE TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE AN ARTICLE IN UNDER 30 MINUTES

dog-time-perception-2As a freelancer, I get paid for my time. Therefore, it makes sense to use that time efficiently. Whether I am writing an article for a client who has given me the topic or writing one on spec, I don’t want  to spend hours penning thousands of words. With a business to run, along with daily life, I try to keep an article or blog post to under 30 minutes including research. There’s no reason to sacrifice quality either. Following these tips will ensure you produce excellent content in as brief time as possible.

  • Keep it short 

Around 500 words is best. There are millions of articles and blog posts on the Internet and no matter how interesting the subject, it’s best to keep it brief. I recently wrote a 1,500-word piece for a client about Mountain Bike Tyres and believe me, even the most dedicated cyclist would have struggled to reach the end. I certainly struggled writing it. I mean, how much engaging content is there about a sphere of rubber? Keeping an article short and informative encourages a reader to read and also increases the chances of a swift call to action.

  • Bullet Points & Lists 

I love a list and, it’s been psychologically proven that most of us do, so use this to your advantage. Not only are they easier for the reader’s eye to follow but they are much simpler to write as you don’t have to connect one idea to the next. This type of article is especially good as a sales technique, as we feel comforted buying something we know is approved by others so are more likely to purchase.

  • Limit your research 

When I first started this writing malarkey, I would spend hours trawling the Internet trying to find relevant information on the subject matter. By the time I started writing, I had forgotten most of it. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. It is tempting just to rewrite what is already out there, so I collect all the information I need in a word document, work on the structure of ideas, then close the document and write the piece in my own words.

  •  Idea List 

This is a great method if you write your own articles to submit to websites and magazines. Not only do I keep a list of whatever idea pops to mind, but I also spend five minutes researching and keep the information with the idea for later. When I’m pushed for time, I have the ideas to hand with no need for research and can churn out a quality article in around 15-20 minutes.

  • Don’t Force It 

You have an idea or a given subject matter and can’t find the right information or the words just won’t come. We’ve all been there – right? Leave it, make a cup of coffee, go for a walk, have a relaxing bath, work on something else. Let your head do the work instead of your fingers. Thinking about how to write something will give you different approaches and ideas making it much easier when you come back to it.

Following these tips will save you time without sacrificing content. You will work more efficiently and free up time, which every freelancer knows is precious.

PS I wrote this post in around 15 mins.

© Donna Hepburn 2016