If you’re a business owner with a website, you’ll need to grasp the basics of SEO. Start with thinking about optimising the content on your website. What exactly does that mean and why is it important? We’ll explore some of this terminology and explain the importance of content on websites. We’ll also cover how to optimise content to give your business more chance of being found in the world wide web.
1. The importance of content
You’ll often hear the word “content” being thrown around when referencing websites and for good reason – it is very important. Put simply, content is the stuff that you see on a web page. It’s the headings, the words, the pictures and the videos that make up the body of the web page. It’s the stuff that you see on-screen when you navigate around. Naturally, it’s important that the user experience on the website allows your visitors to understand what your business is about so that they can gather the necessary information and make an informed decision about whether your website meets their needs.
It’s worth spending some time thinking about a typical user journey on your website. When they first visit the home page is it clear who you are and what you do? Is all of the relevant and pertinent information about your business on the home page? Is there a menu navigation so that users can move around easily? And is there good use of content that helps to explain and illustrate who you are, what you do and why customers should engage with your brand?
If you only focus your content efforts around the user experience on your website, you’ll be doing a great job of optimising the content. However, you might also want to think about how search engines read and perceive your content, so that you can squeeze more value from your website by generating a little bit more traffic by appearing higher in search engine results.
2. Content and SEO
Whilst there are numerous factors that determine how your website ranks on search engines, content is one of the most important. Think of your website as a library of information about your business. The key, focus words that you use on your web pages act like the contents/index sections to search engines. Search engines actually use the term “index” to describe the process of reading and understanding content on websites. If we think about the purpose of search engines, it’s to find the most suitable results based on the query that the user has searched for. Therefore, we want to make life as easy as possible for search engines to find your website.
You can make life easier for search engines to find you by optimising the content on your web pages. That means properly labelling your web pages (optimising page titles) and making sure each page is given a small description (meta tag descriptions) and making sure that the headings on each web page stand out (making use of H1 tags), and labelling images correctly so that search engines understand what they are (image descriptions and alt text). Search engines will be looking for this key information in specific places on your website, and if it can’t find this information, there’s more chance your website will be overlooked and not feature in the search results of search engines. So, what words should you be using in those specific places? That’s where some keyword research can prove very valuable.
3. Keyword Research and Content
Keyword research is the process of analysing the most relevant and searched-for keywords in your business industry. It’s a worthwhile process, even if you do not apply all of the techniques to your website talked about in this blog. That’s because keyword research will help you to understand the language used in your industry and the subtle differences that might exist between you and your competitors. It might also help you to understand some of the language that your customers use about your industry, which might make you think differently about how you market your business.
For the purpose of web page optimisation, keyword research helps you to understand what content you might want to feature on your website. Let’s assume your business is about selling cakes and your target market is in Northampton. Your keyword research might tell you that the most searched-for phrase in your industry is “wedding cakes Northampton.” Therefore, it might be a good idea to build some content on your website that is focused on “wedding cakes Northampton” because you know that people are looking for content about that service/product.
The best place to begin conducting your keyword research is in Google Keyword Planner. You’ll need to create a Google account. There are plenty of tutorials out there about using Google Keyword Planner. Here’s a good one to start with: SERPs Google Keyword Planner Guide. The easiest way to document your keyword research is to create a list of keywords and note how much search volume they get – i.e the number of searches per month. That way you know which keywords are most searched-for and you can prioritise which keywords are most important to your business. Be mindful that there may be some keywords that are heavily contested because lots of companies are offering the same services. In that instance, it might be better to focus your efforts on lesser searched-for keywords that you’ve got more chance of appearing in search engine results for.
4. Making use of Keywords on your website
Assuming you’ve conducted some great keyword research and you’ve got a hit list of keywords that are relevant to your business industry, you’ll then need to build a keyword strategy that helps marry your content with the topics that your potential visitors are searching for. Over the years, Google search algorithms have become much better at detecting good content and bad content. Once upon a time, it would be possible to stuff lots of keywords on to a web page and that would be enough to help your web page to feature higher in search engines. Thankfully, Google algorithms are a lot smarter now and those bad practices are actually damaging to website rankings. So, think about featuring a few different keywords on each page, relevant to that service. Make sure your content has got headings in the right places and is easy to read for your visitors. Make use of your keywords only a few times on each of your web pages and your website won’t be penalised for keyword flooding.
5. Optimising your content: titles, tags, descriptors and alt text
There isn’t an exact science to optimising content and keywords – it’s more of an art, and a fair amount of trial and error. However, there are certain places on your website where it’s worth making use of keywords to help optimise your web page’s content.
- Web Page URL. This is the website address that lands on that specific page. If it can be optimised around your keyword, then great. It might look something like this: www.amazingcakes.com/wedding-cakes-northampton.” Research suggests that this has some weighting on search rankings.
- Web Page Title. It’s not displayed on the actual page, it’s within the code of the page, but it’s what appears in a Google search. It should be optimised to no more than 70 characters and might look something like: “Wedding Cakes Northampton | Amazing Cakes | Weddings, Birthdays”, for example.
- Meta Tag Description. When you search for something on Google, the results displayed will show both the Page Title in bold and a slightly longer description in the text below – that’s the Meta Tag description. Make use of keyword phrases here to help your content stand out.
- H1 Tags. This is displayed on the web page. It’s the main title for the page, usually displayed in a headline. H = Headline.
- Written Text on the page – The main words used to describe the product/service should feature some of the keywords, either exactly or in some variation. Make sure your sentences are legible for people first, search engines second.
- Internal Links. You’ll likely be using a menu on your website. Make use of your keywords in your menus and internal links featured around your website. Be careful how regularly you use exact keywords phrases, as Google might think you’re keyword flooding. Focus first on making sure your menus are structured clearly for humans first, then think about search engines after.
- Image Titles/Tags. Search engines cannot interpret what images are, unless there is a text title and description that explains it. Make use of keywords in your image titles and descriptions.
This really is the tip of a content-keyword iceberg. There are a huge number of resources available that can give you some practical walkthroughs to help you grasp more of the basics of SEO. If you don’t have control over your website, it might be worth investigating what you can do to gain some control over it. If it’s too much of a struggle with your current website company, get in touch with us and we can help give you back control of your website. Call us on 01604 419776 to discuss further.
Author: Tom Jullings
I work with clients to improve the digital marketing experience they present to their customers – from web design and SEO to outreach marketing and social media.
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