Optimising your website to improve your site’s relevance in search engine listing is often a slow process. It involves making small but significant changes to your website in order to increase its visibility to search engines. Many of the search engine optimisation tips to improve your website not only increase your chances of being found by search engines but also enhance the user experience of your website. This article contains a number of search engine optimisation tips to help improve your website’s relevance in search results listings.
Uniform Resource Locater (URL’s)
Making sure you structure your URL’s correctly is not only important for search engine optimisation but also helps people understand and find content on your website. Here are some top SEO tips:
- Try to keep your URL’s as short as possible as this will help people remember or guess them.
- Where possible always use words rather than numbers in your URL. Words are meaningful to both people and search engines, for example this URL "http://www.nomensa.com/web-accessibility.html" is far more understandable than "http://www.nomensa.com/44535.html".
- Choose words that describe the content of your page and can be easily remembered by people using your site. For example if your page content is about web accessibility then your URL should reflect that e.g. http://www.nomensa.com/web-accessibility.html.
- Individual words within your URL should be separated with hyphens so they can be easily recognised by search engines such as Google. Search engines treat hyphens (-) and underscores (_) as spaces: http://www.nomensa.com/web-accessibility.html.
- Use your keywords in your URL’s that relate to the content where appropriate.
Descriptive page titles help all users find content and understand where they are within a website structure. The title of the webpage will appear at the top of each search result within a search results listing. Titles should be short yet descriptive, as search engines tend to limit the length of the title shown in the search results listing. If the title is too long, the end is replaced with an ellipsis (…). For better search engine optimisation results each page should have a unique title that clearly describes the content of the page. Unique titles help both users and search engines differentiate between pages on your website. Ideally the page title should match the URL of the page by containing the same words for example: URL: http://www.nomensa.com/web-accessibility.html Title: Web Accessibility
Page descriptions are not displayed to human users of a website on the site itself, but are presented to search engine ‘crawlers’. The content of a page description appears in the search result snippet within a list of search results. It is important to make sure your page descriptions clearly summarise the content on the page, making it engaging and informative in order to entice people to your page from a list of search results. For example the description for our ‘Web Accessibility’ page could be: “Web accessibility services including accessibility audits, template coding and full Quality Assurance programmes to ensure websites achieve maximum optimisation and legal compliance.” Each page on your website should have a unique description which helps both search engines and users differentiate between multiple pages within a search listing. Do not use the same description for each page. Also try to avoid using ‘wasted’ words within your descriptions such as ‘Welcome to my website’ or filling your descriptions with keywords.
It is important for both search engine optimisation and accessibility to ensure that the link phrases used across your website accurately reflect the target of the link i.e. the page to which the link leads. Link phrases should be clear and concise allowing people and search engines to understand the link at the first time of reading and without having to read the surrounding content on the page. Try to avoid link text that does not have any context, for example ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. It is good practice to use the title of the page you want to link to as the link text. For example if you are linking to a page titled ‘Web Accessibility’, your link phrase would be ‘Read more about Web Accessibility’.
Using headings to help structure your pages is very important in terms of accessibility as it helps people understand the relevance and importance of content on the page. This also applies to search engines. Headings should be used appropriately to add structure to your content. Keywords can be used as headings to help search engines understand the relevance of content on the page. The first heading (<h1>) on the page should contain the same words as your URL and page title e.g.: URL: http://www.nomensa.com/web-accessibility.html Page Title: Web Accessibility First Heading (<h1>): Web Accessibility
Text content is not the only type of content which can be optimised to help improve your search engine listings; images can also be used to your advantage. Foreground images within your site should have clear, concise yet descriptive filenames. Try to avoid filenames which do not relate to the content of the image, such as ‘photo-1.gif’. Instead use filenames which relate to the content within the image. Filenames can also contain keywords for that particular page. Improving the file names of images will increase the likelihood of people being able to find your images when using tools such as Google Image search.