Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website to naturally rank higher on search engines. You can perform ‘on page optimisation’ on your website as a way to make your website appear more relevant to certain search phrases, increasing your chance of higher page rankings. Below are a few tips to ensure your website is optimised for search engines.
It is important to find the right keywords or phrases that have high search traffic, yet not too high competition. These should be relevant to your business and have a presence throughout your site. Do not crowd the site with keywords, try for around 2-3% of your content to include your keywords.
Some keyword optimisation guidelines:
- Place your keyword(s) in a heading.
- Place your keyword(s) in the first and last 25 words of your page/post.
- Include keywords in the alt tag of your images (more info below)
Regularly updated content
Another important factor in SEO is ensuring your website has content that is regularly updated. A simple way to do this is to add a testimonial, expand your description of services. Even if there is not too much to write about, including optimised images and a couple of sentences containing your keywords is a good way to ensure your content is regularly updated.
There are some rules to follow to ensure you get the highest possible rankings based on the images you include on your website.
- Alt text – Always add alt text when you are uploading your images. This is the text that Google and other search engines read as a description of the image. Try explaining the image to someone who cannot see. Use descriptive keywords that relate to your business. Alt text can be thought of as the text people would put into Google to search for your image.
- Title – Very similar to alt text, although Google takes little to no interest in this attribute. It is recommended to still input a title, which acts as a title for the image. It should be written in readable English. The text written as the title is displayed when a user hovers over the image. If an appropriate title cannot be thought of, use the same text as the alt text.
- File name – Make sure file names of images are relevant and include descriptive keywords. Separate words with hyphens instead of spaces.
- File size – File load speeds can affect your page rankings, try to keep images less than 500 kilobytes (Kb). Your website will automatically scale your images so they aren’t too large. Generally, images will not need to be wider or higher than 1000px, and may have an unnecessarily large file size otherwise. The image size to insert into a post can be set when adding an image in WordPress, which will automatically use a smaller image with a smaller file size.
Include your keywords in links where possible.
The domain name is the address of your website on the web (yourwebsite.co.nz). This can have an impact on website rankings. Ideally domain names should have keywords relevant to the content of your website. An example ‘relevant’ domain name of a coffee shop based in Christchurch would be www.christchurch-coffee-shop.co.nz.
Backlinks (incoming links)
The SEO strategy that has the largest impact on rankings is the off page optimisation technique of gaining backlinks. Backlinks are links directed to your website from others in the web. The number of backlinks is an indication of the popularity of a website. Some search engines, especially Google, will consider websites that have a good number of quality backlinks to be of more relevance, and display it higher among the search results.
Search engines look at the content of a site to determine the quality of the link. When inbound links to your site come from other sites, and those sites have content that is related to your website, these links are considered more relevant to your site.
Be wary of anyone offering to sell links to you, being linked to by a known ‘link farm’ can penalise you and sometimes get you banned from search engine results.
Remember, search engines are very intelligent, and will respond to any ‘black hat’ or unethical SEO techniques by decreasing your page ranking, so it is highly recommended to avoid any of these techniques; including ‘keyword stuffing’ – packing a large amount of keywords and nothing else into a web page, and being linked to by a link farm. Try to write your content as naturally as possible, while including a keyword density of between 2 and 3%.