Once you have identified the search terms that want to rank for, you need to optimise your website accordingly. The word ‘optimise’ can mean thousands of different things and there is no website on the planet or in cyberspace that is 100% optimised for everything. The great thing about the internet is that it is always changing and so are people’s search habits, so you can always achieve results provided you stay focused and look to adapt to new trends in your field of expertise.
In this particular context I am talking about ‘optimising the content’ of your website for search engines. The key elements that are important to optimise are:
Optimising your website page titles
Give every page on your website a ‘keyword-dense’ page title that describes the page content and purpose in relation to your overall proposition. The page title will play an important role in Google so it must serve as a summary of what the page offers. A single page can be extremely powerful if targeted in the right way. Do not cram keywords into the page title, just use them in a defined manner.
For example, if I am a book shop in London that sells Harry Potter books my page title might be:
Buy Harry Potter Books London│Read Harry Potter Books│Matt’s London Book Shop
This page title is descriptive, defined and covers the key words – ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Books’ and ‘London’. It also gives you the opportunity to enhance the name of your business and its location. You do not want your page titles any longer than this but this format should be adopted across your site.
Website menu optimisation
Google loves links on websites. Links are very important because they send a visitor to another destination either on your site or on another site. Google’s job is to improve the user experience and give them what they want. So a good link effectively describes the content on the next page. For example, if a link says ‘red socks’ then the page it links to should display or contain content for ‘red socks’. If it shows something different, like ‘pet food’, then search engines will penalise your site because the link is falsely advertising content.
|The menus on your website are perhaps the most important links across the site because they are on every page and they give an overview of the key elements of your business. Therefore, they should be defined and descriptive of the areas they point to. If your website becomes popular and well indexed, your menu links will be shown below your web listing as extra links in your Google results. This is very powerful in terms of gaining new visitors and can only be created by Google itself.|
Optimise website page headings for Google
Your headings on your website are obviously there for a reason. They are your ‘headline’ to describe what your content is about. Headings do not have to be one or two words, they can be a phrase. Phrases can be more powerful because they are longer and relay a more defined message. Think about creating headings that best describe the information on your page and also adapt them around what people would be searching for in order to find that content.
For example, the heading of this section – ‘Optimise website page headings for Google’, explains exactly what the content on this page is about but it is also written in a style that someone would use to search for advice on the subject. The closer you can match your heading with a strong search query, the better the page will rank due to its relevancy.
A great tool to use for defining popular search terms to help optimise your page titles is Google’s Search-based Keyword Tool. It is totally FREE and it enables you to find niche search terms that have good search volume. It also displays the level of competition for each search term and is perfect for finding opportunities to take advantage of.
Remember to also prioritise your headings with H1-H4 heading tags to give them an importance level. Search engines see these tags as an indication of how the page is structured and will give H1-tagged content more importance when ranking.
Optimise web page content for Google
When writing your website content you need to make sure it is clearly focused around the subject of the page or section. Try not to write content that digresses from the subject or is irrelevant because it will dilute the quality score of the page. Keep it clear and concise and make sure it contains your keywords and key phrases.
You should write it like you are giving somebody a lesson on the subject or explaining to them about the great features of a product. Do not stuff pages full of keywords for no apparent reason and make sure it flows. Keep the language clear and use bullet points if necessary. Bulleted lists are good for highlighting key areas. They also break up heavy text for the visitor.
Google search algorithms (or spiders as they are known), are very intelligent and will pick up on any abuse towards keyword density. Keep reminding yourself that ‘RELEVANCY’ is what you are aiming for with all web content. This means that even a short amount of content can rank very highly if it is clearly defined towards a particular subject or search terms. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to help you find opportunities with key phrases that people are searching for.
Using page links to optimise a web page for Google
Search engines love links that they can read. Links are basically the relationship between web pages and websites that create the World Wide Web. The links that give you a better ranking are those that are text-based. Image links work well from a user perspective but search engines are unable to read images so they only see the link behind it.
The advantage of text links is that search engines can read the text and the link behind it. This means it can relate the link to the context of the page / site and give it greater relevancy in relation to the page it is directing to. The best text links contain your specific keywords or key phrases and lead to a page that has a page title and content to match it.
Text links are not only used in menu or footers but also within body text. You can use text links within body text to link to other pages on your site or to content lower down using page anchors. Try to incorporate 2-3 text links within a piece of body text to other pages on your website. This will then create a searchable network of links improving the relevancy of your content and indexing capability for search engine spiders.
Tip: If you are linking to other sites then make sure the link opens in a new window. You want to keep people on your website for as long as possible so, if you must send them somewhere else, make sure they can easily come back to your site in the same window.
Optimising images for search engines
Search engines cannot read images – fact. This is why most websites that are heavy in terms of images do not rank highly. While it may be nice to have a visually stimulating website, if it doesn’t contain any content then you are reliant on other sites linking to you to generate your rank authority and improve your position. If you just name an image ‘image1.jpg’ and upload it to your website, a search engine will not be able to place it in any context or understand what the image is showing. Therefore, you need to make sure your images can be indexed and searchable.
There are a couple of ways you can optimise an image. First, the image file name can describe a lot and help improve the site’s relevancy. For example, if you own a tennis shop and name an image of a pair of Nike trainers in the following way, you are giving the search engines much more information than were you to use a standard name like ‘image1’.
The above naming structure tells the search engines that this image is for a pair of Nike Air Tennis Trainers in white and they are for sale. This is relevant to your site because you own a tennis shop. It also contains the word ‘buy’ which is what somebody would use to search if they were looking for this product. In addition, this image would be supported by the content on the page and Google would know your site is an online store.
Another way to optimise an image for search engines is to use alt tags. Alt tags are the little labels that pop up when you hover your mouse over an image. When an image is inserted into a website page, alt tags are embedded within the code to tell the browser to display this information when hovered over. The idea of alt tags is to improve usability for the visitor. This also means that the search engines read it and can then add it to the image title and page content to paint a clearer picture of the page and its relevancy.
There are people who claim that image optimisation is a waste of time. But put in a little effort with your images and you could be gaining many more visitors. If you take a look at Google image search results, you will see many images that are not relevant to the search terms you used. This indicates a number of websites are ignoring image optimisation techniques and Google is trying to index them based on page content alone. If you have optimised page content as well as your images, you have every chance of moving to page 1 of Google images quickly.