Eight tips for Search Engine Optimisation

By Clare Bagshaw

Search engines can be perplexing beasts, but by following a few key tips for search engine optimisation you can make sure that you maximise your chances of being at the top of their rankings.

1. Keyword selection:

Once you have an understanding of your target audience you should be able to identify the key words and phrases that they would use if they were searching for an offering such as yours.

After you have identified these words make sure you use them throughout the content on your website BUT, don't over do it - "keyword stuffing" will only see your site sent to the bottom of the search results.

2. Titles:

From the top of your browser, to the tags of your pictures, titles tell search engines just what your website is all about. It is important that you utilise your keywords in your page titles, alt tags in images and title tags in links and as much as possible elsewhere.

3. Content headings:

Making sure your content headings include those keywords you identified will help your rankings but only if you use CSS heading tags to identify them (h1, h2, h3 etc). If you're site isn't built in CSS, find a reputable web developer that understands search optimisation (and usability) and have it recoded.

4. Navigation:

Keep in mind that search engines can’t read pictures. For this reason, make sure that your navigation bar is text, not image, based. Using those key words you previously identified in your navigation will also help your rankings.

In addition make sure you structure your site well as this is reflected in your URLs. Use folders to separate sections of the site and name your pages and folders based on your targeted keywords.

5. Site map:

Make it as easy as possible for search engines to navigate through your website. Include your site map on your website. Believe it or not but this will also contribute to search engine optimisation.

6. Regular updates:

Content is king - keep it fresh, keep it new. Search engines like to see websites that are active and are regularly updated, not to mention that an out-of-date website reflects badly on your business.

7. Incoming links:

The more people point to you, the more important you appear to search engines which means the higher up the list you will go. Consider ways you can encourage other websites to point to you.

Don't get sucked into exchanging links with unrelated or less than reputable sites however - this is a 'black' side of site optimisation that does nothing for your business credibility or your search rankings.

8. Meta data:

These days it is generally accepted that meta data doesn't help your search engine rankings. Despite this though, some of the meta data does appear when your site is listed by a search engine so it is still good practice to include title, description, and keyword meta data.

The upshot

If you have gone to the trouble of developing a website, you may as well maximise your chances of being at the top of the search engine rankings. Keep these tips in mind while you are planning, building and running your website and your website has a good chance of ranking well on search engines.

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