Whether you’re creating a new website or updating an existing one, it’s essential to know a few good search engine optimisation tips to set you on the path of gaining a good google ranking.
Whether the purpose of your website is to provide a summary of information on your business and services, or you run a full-scale e-commerce business, it’s more than likely important for you that your site ranks well on Google.
Search engines use automated bots known as crawlers/spiders to regularly comb over your website and determine how your site ranks in search results. Ranging from the way your site is coded to the type and arrangement of your site content, there are many factors these crawlers take into account when assessing your site. This is known as the algorithm, and while that algorithm is somewhat mysterious and can change over time (if google made it easy, everyone would be cheating it!) here are a few key things to know that can make or break your site’s search engine credibility.
SEO credibilty: Good design counts!
Like all technology, website design is ever-updating. The way in which websites are constructed today is quite different to how they were constructed back when I coded – in Notepad – my first Dark Angel fansite (a feat which I cannot now repeat, as web development has long sailed way over my head since the table layouts and iframes I once used). Even in the last couple of years, web design practices have changed.
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly: With more and more people using laptops and mobile phones to view websites, it’s of crucial importance to ensure your website is able to re-scale itself to view easily upon these devices. In fact, it has now become an important part of Google’s site indexing criteria that websites are mobile-friendly. If they’re not, Google will penalise their ranking.
Mobile-friendly websites recompile themselves to fit the screen they’re being viewed on. Usually by nesting information in a single column, shrinking images to fit, and tucking the menu bar away into a tidy tab. No need to pinch and zoom and scroll in every which direction to figure out what you’re looking at. If your website looks awesome on the PC but cannot recompile itself nicely when you load it on a mobile phone, you really need to look at updating.
Don’t clug up your website with unnecessary weight: Google likes websites that don’t take 17 years to load. This means having good clean coding, and images that are optimised for web viewing.
Optimising your images means reducing their file size and using file types that don’t have carry a whole load of extra weight not deemed necessary for web viewing. For eg, png files are much much bigger than jpg files, and where ever possible you should always use the latter. If you don’t have access to the likes of Photoshop to compress your images (using Save to Web or Device and adjusting the Quality slider), there are free sites out there which can do this for you online (search ‘free jpg optimizer’). You should be able to compress your image quite drastically without losing quality. Use the smallest filesize you can without compromising on image quality, and your pages will load much faster. Beneficial not only for search engine crawlers, but of course for the people opening your page.
Quality content is a must!
Who are you? What do you do? Where are you based? What products/services can you offer? If your site doesn’t provide enough information about who you are and what you do, how will search engines even know what to to do with you?
While exceptions can be made for the likes of your Contact page which only serves the purpose of listing the methods by which people can get in touch with you, it’s important to have a reasonable amount of well-written content on your pages. Use good keywords, but don’t sprinkle them amid your page so heavily, that your readers will feel like they’re biting into a Steak & Pepper pie, sans steak. While it’s great to try and capture the attention of the google bots, the most important readers of your content are the real-life human ones. SEO is all well and good, but if your potential customers/clients don’t find your content interesting, then what does it matter if the bots do?