Top Tips to Make Sure your Website is Search Engine Friendly

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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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USING CURRENT TRENDS TO ENHANCE YOUR MARKETING

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You would need to be living in a box or in outer space not to be aware that a significant number of the world’s population are obsessed with chasing around after funny-named Japanese cartoon characters. Pokémon Go is a phenomenon! With little or no marketing, it’s currently surpassing the big players in the App market – Twitter and Snapchat included – with more active daily users. Some companies are using this to their advantage to increase business.

It works particularly well for bars, restaurants and cafés especially if they’re in the area of a Pokéstop (physical locations in the game where players collect essentials like Pokéballs). These can see a large increase in footfall. If the company has a member of staff playing the game, they can set lures to attract people to the area, especially at lunchtime. Offering discounts or special offers to players or applying to the game online to become a battle gym can also increase business.

I can hear you all now saying, ‘That’s all very well, but how does it affect my business and marketing?’ Er, Brexit? How many posts did you see mentioning that word?  Using current trending topics can significantly increase your ranking on search engines, drive traffic to your blog or website and gain more followers on social media. Remember, it’s not what interests you, it’s what your followers and potential clients are taking notice of.

It’s not only #Pikachu #Squirtel and the gang that can enhance your content. (See what I did there?) There are topics going viral daily and it pays to keep abreast of these trends. Tools such as Reddit, Buzzfeed, and DrumUp use sophisticated algorithms to provide you with daily stories specific to your keywords making it easy to create social media posts, web content and blogs that are engaging and ‘bang on trend’.

Large sporting events are another massive opportunity for you to cash in with valuable trending content. There were over 10 million tweets by Brits alone during Euro 2016. The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics takes place on Friday, and that will be a similar story. There are numerous ways to make this work for your business.

Keywords and Hashtags. Using words on your website such as Olympic, Gold Medal, Rio 2016 will push you up the rankings, as well as making it fun and interesting to keep the reader engaged. Perhaps you could have a special offer every time your country wins a medal. Congratulate medal winners daily, write a short interview with a member of your staff who is a cyclist, runner, gymnast etc. Not only are you taking advantage of trending words, you are also giving potential clients an insight into your business.

Social Media Posts. These should be instant to achieve the best results. Incorporate the trending hashtag with some relevance to your niche, something like:

Congratulations #MoFarah #GoldMedal #Rio2016 Celebrate by claiming a 20% #discount today only @ukcontentwriter #writingservices #webcontent

Blogs. Writing a blog containing valuable, newsworthy content not only encourages engagement with followers, portraying you as a savvy marketer, but also combats the constant changes that search engines make to their criteria. Websites take time and money to update. Blogs are a cost-effective way of maintaining a strong online presence.

Whether it’s Pokémon Go, National Cupcake Day, Wimbledon or a celebrity marriage, you can make any newsworthy topic your friend. It would be interesting to know if any of our readers have used/will be using the upcoming Olympics in their marketing and, if so, your results to date.

Good luck and happy marketing!

© Donna Hepburn 2016