Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)


What Is Search Engine Optimisation ?

It is a process of modifying your web page to get higher ranking on search engines.


Search Engine Optimisation Overview

The content of each page of a web site should be optimised for a few specific keywords or key phrases that someone may search for in a search engine.

So if you sell gloves, you may have a web page for leather gloves, and may therefore use the keyphrase 'leather gloves' in your title for that page, the meta tags, and throughout your page content. Then if someone searches for 'leather gloves' on a search engine they will hopefully see a link to your leather gloves web page. Similarly, if someone searched for 'woollen gloves' they may be directed to your woollen gloves web page if you had optimised the page for that keyphrase.

There are a number of views on exactly how you should optimise your web site for search engines, and particularly how you should write your meta tags and title.

Many of the main search engines, such as Google, no longer use meta tags to index web pages. Google mainly looks at the content of the page, combined with other factors like how many links a web page has to it and how popular the site is.

However you shouldn't ignore meta tags as they are still used by a number of smaller search engines, and to some extent by some of the larger search engines as well.


How do I optimise my web site for search engines ?

1) Establish a set of keywords and keyphrases for each page

Each page in your web site should have its own set of keywords, which are unique to that page.
e.g. for my Adobe InDesign training page I have chosen the following keywords and keyphrases:
adobe indesign training, indesign training, birmingham, training, adobe, indesign, course

2) Write a title tag - using the main keywords/keyphrases

For example:
<title>Adobe InDesign training course in Birmingham UK</title>

3) Write a keywords meta tag

For example:
<meta name="Keywords" content="adobe indesign training, indesign training, birmingham, training, adobe, indesign, course " />

4) Write a description meta tag - using the main keywords/keyphrases in the description, using proper sentences

For example:
<meta name="Description" content="Adobe InDesign training course, learn page layout and design with Adobe InDesign, beginners and intermediate custom InDesign training in Birmingham, UK" />

5) Write the page content for that page

Use the keyword/keyphrases in your content.
Use the text from the description tag in your content.

When writing content, try to use your exact keyphrases within the sentences.
e.g. rather than writing:
" this training for Adobe InDesign is . . ."
you should write:
"this Adobe InDesign training is . . ."
This contains the keyphrase "Adobe InDesign training" so therefore is much more effectivel for optimising the web site and getting a better position on search engine listings when someone searches for "Adobe indesign training".

The first couple of paragraphs on your page are the most important.

6) Create links with other web sites

To get a good position on search engines like Google, you need to get links from other relevant sites. It is also a good idea to link to other relevant sites from your site. Don't add too many links though, and don't link to sites which are just made up of pages and pages of links.

Other factors which affect how your page will rank on a search engine

The number of times a single keyword or keyphrase is repeated
If you repeat a keyword or keyphrase too many times then it will be considered word spamming by most search engines and your page will either be removed or given a reduced ranking.
You can repeat a keyword or keyphrase a maximum 3 or 4 times within the keywords tag for most search engines, and while repeating a keyword or keyphrase a few times within the body text of the site is a good idea, again repeating it too many times is not a good idea.

Use heading tags (H1 and H2 tags) for headings and subheadings on your pages, as the text within these tags is usually given more importance in searches than normal text.

Write your hyperlinks to other pages carefully.
Don't use "click here", "more info", "details" or other meaningless links. Write something descriptive such as "Adobe InDesign training details". This is not only more descriptive but it also has one of our keyphrases in it. This practice will also make the site more accessible.

Alt tags
Any image used within the web site should have an alt tag with it. This is text that will display if the image doesn't load for some reason. Alt tags can be read by screen readers, used by those people with sight problems, and they are also looked at by search engines.
It is particularly important to use correctly written alt tags for any graphical links or for important images like logos and product photos.

Where possible, the text of the alt tag on a link should relate to the keywords in the content of the page you are linking to.

Hidden text
Don't create text which cannot be seen by site visitors (e.g. the same colour as the page background) as this may cause your site to be excluded from search engines.
Similarly, loading of alt tags with repeated keywords is also frowned upon.


How do Search Engines find my web site ?

Search engines trawl the Internet continuously, following links from sites which are already listed; so the best way to get listed on search engines is to get some links from good quality relevant sites.

Most search engines also have a submit site link to which you can add your web site address.

Directories work in a different way. You will need to add your site to each of these individually.

Don't expect an instant response to your new web site. Your site may show up very quickly, but it is more likely to take many months before you can find it on most search engines and directories.

Once you are listed, changes to your site may be picked up when the search engine next checks your site; but some smaller search engines may take many months to pick up changes to your site.


See the META tags tutorial for more information on META tags


SEO links

Search Engine Watch
Everything you ever wanted to know about search engines, including how to get listed by them.

SEO Chat
Articles and tools for search engine optimisation of your web site.

Meta Tag Analyzer Tool
Check your keyword usage.