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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HOTELS: BASICS OF ONLINE MARKETING

cmsimg_1333123142The hospitality industry is one of the most competitive, therefore, marketing your hotel can be a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s worth building an extensive database along with a comprehensive marketing strategy to maximise conversion rates. There are hundreds of options, but understanding these basics will get you started.

Before embarking on a complicated marketing campaign, you should have a conversation with your current customers, and ask these questions:

Who are the people who book your hotel? Businessmen, families, young couples? It’s no good using targeted marketing if you don’t know your target.

Where did they find out about your hotel? This information helps you gather information about which avenues are most lucrative and which need more work to improve conversion rate.

What do your guests value, and care about? Finding out this information can help you find your target audience and also help improve things if certain areas are lacking. Most hotels have guests complete a satisfaction questionnaire during their stay to collate this information. Always ask for an email address as you can update them regularly with news and special offers.

You now have information and it’s time to decide where to spend your marketing budget. Online marketing is profit-driven and, if done correctly, it works. However, you need to focus your strategy and budget on platforms that bring in profit. The CEO is not interested in how many shares you have on Facebook, likes on Twitter, or how many emails have been opened. They are interested in how many bookings the hotel receives.

More often than not, Google is the starting point for anyone looking for a hotel. In that respect, AdWords can work really well in the hospitality business. You pick certain keywords that people use when searching for a hotel then create an ad using these keywords. Some are expensive so concentrate on those that emphasise your USPs (Unique Selling Points). Google have recently added new features to enhance this service for best results:

  • Create a Google ‘My Business Page’ and make sure the hotel’s Google Maps is optimised.
  • Join Google’s Travel Blog for travel marketers. Keep ahead of your competitors by being first to know the new features and relevant travel news.
  • Highlight your features, special offers, and upcoming events. These should be highlighted in all your marketing but can be especially useful if, for example, someone is searching for a Christmas party or a naturist beach.
  • Sign up for a Google Business View which Google promise to set up in five working days.

Google also has an invaluable tool for marketers within its AdWords service, which allows you to build a user list through its remarketing tag. This list can include:

  • Visitors to your website made up of people who have clicked through.
  • Visitors who took specific actions, either enquired or booked through the website.
  • A similar user list can be automatically created by Google to target users with similar interests.
  • Customer match email address lists. Hotels with a comprehensive CRM can upload bulk emails to create logical user email lists.

Email marketing and AdWords can also be extremely effective on social media platforms. The best way to engage people is to run a competition – the bigger the better! You incentivise engagement, with the opportunity to win a prize, and can generate hundreds – if not thousands – of email addresses and phone numbers with an optimised entry form. This can also give you demographic information so you focus your marketing in certain areas and generate leads interested in your hotel.

Targeting your Facebook ads to existing contacts allows you to engage with people, by name, who are aware and have interacted with your brand. All you need to do is encourage them to do so again and you can reward them by offering tailored discounts and special offers.

These are some of the simplest ways of building an email database. You can add to the list over time enabling you to remarket to previous guests as well as new contacts. Please feel free to contact us if you need help with any of your marketing content, blogs or articles.

© Donna Hepburn 2016