Making your Website Content Search Engine Friendly
Let’s firstly identify What Are Search Engines?
Search engines are programs that search documents by identifying a database that corresponds to specific keywords and returns a list of documents where the keywords were found. A search engine is really a general class of programs. The term is used to describe systems like Google, Bing and Yahoo! that enable users to search for documents on various websites.
Search engines work by sending out a ‘spider’ or ‘crawler’ to fetch as many documents as possible. Another program called an ‘indexer’ then reads these documents and creates an index based on words contained in each document. Search engines like Google use proprietary algorithms to create indices and only meaningful results are returned against each search query.
Why is this important?
For most of website owners their traffic will come from search engines therefore your website needs to be find-able. You need to then write and mark up your content to ensure relevancy so that the ‘spiders’ will recognize your content and index it against relevant search queries. This is how your website is indexed organically. This is critical as you need to optimize your web content to improve your placement in search engine results (SEO).
What do Search Engines look for before they choose to rank and index your content?
- Good quality Content: Themes, text on page, titles & descriptions.
- Performance: How fast is your site & does it work properly?
- Authority & Links: Good enough content to link to.
- Do other authoritative sites use your website content as a reference and cite useful information?
- How many external vs internal links do I have that are relevant to my product/service?
- Social engagement and regularly updated content that is well liked e.g. people tweeting about it, Liking, recommending, commenting and sharing on Facebook and LinkedIn.
This will gain you Community Trust and better search engine rank.
What can I do to improve my web content rank?
Here are a few things to consider when optimizing your content:
- Post relevant content to your audience. Your content will rank higher for the search terms they are using.
- Mention specific phrases in the first paragraph of each web page.
- Ensure correct spelling – typos make sites rank lower.
- Ensure there are no broken links – these will rank your site lower.
- Provide text alternative for media content, such as ALT text for your images – search engine can’t see images, just descriptions.
- Include Meta Tags & Titles & Content for ranking (back end), they make your web site & content find-able.
- Make sure important Content & Titles are in bold or italics as search engines place importance if this is specified within the content.
- Be Ethical & Accessible WCAG – refers to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Ensure content is accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness & low vision, deafness & hearing loss, learning disabilities. http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#WCAG10
- When inserting links make sure your link text (content that is clickable) is meaningful and relates to the page(s) you are linking to.
- If you have Social Media Pages, make sure you add social media links to your website.
What not to do:
- Keyword stuffing: Overuse of keywords on your pages.
- Purchased Links – Links need to be relevant to the content of your website.
- Content duplication.
- Poor User Experience – this is about website structure and how a user interacts with your website.
- No Flash!
- Too much ‘Push’ content – think about your audience, what would they want to share and engage with?
Having success with your website content in search results is an ongoing effort, it’s not something you can set and forget. Once you have a website make sure you are find-able and is indexing in search engines like Google. Make sure that you review and optimize content frequently. And remember the more relevant your content the higher your website will rank!