Get your website Google ready
So, your new or refreshed website is nearly ready to launch. If you have read our most recent digital blog on the top 5 things to think about when planning a new website, you should already be clear what the main purpose is for your website. If you are serious about making your website work for you then you will want to give it the best chance to be found on search engines when your customers search for you or your products/services. Here is what we feel are the top 5 things to do to make your website search engine friendly.
BUT before we get into that here is a ‘Website health warning’. The search engines, i.e. Google determine the rules for which websites are displayed in their search results pages. Over the last five years or so, Google in particular has refined its calculation (search algorithm), through updates, fashionably named Panda, Penguin and recently Hummingbird, thereby creating their rules to ensure only the best websites are shown on the first page. While this is a vast subject in its own right we have attempted to indicate what you should do to keep on the right side of the track.
1. Research your keywords
These are the words your potential customers will type into search engines to find answers to their questions. Google, for example has a tool that can tell you the number of times a month a word or phrase is searched for in a particular country, or town/city. If you identify a term that is exactly relevant for your products and services and it has a high search volume, then you should be considering having the word or phrase included in your website. Where keywords or phrases are to be placed is covered in the following points.
2. Your domain name
Your domain name should already have been chosen by this stage, but it’s worth noting that having your keywords included in your domain name is no longer a factor in helping your website rank highly in search engines. Ideally your domain name should as close as possible represent the name of your business, i.e. www.yourbusinessname.co.uk to help you with your brand identity However, it is important to include a keyword (e.g. my best product) in the page Address (URL), i.e. www.yourbusinessname.co.uk/my-best-product-1/. In essence, this begins to tell the search engine what the page is about.
If you look at the following result for a Google search on ‘The Best Widgets in Manchester’
The result reports the webpage: blue widgets in Manchester from the www.bluewidgets.co.uk website as shown in green on the second line. In this example, the Blue Widgets Company is benefiting from having the keyword Phrase Blue Widgets in Manchester, in their page URL.
3. Meta Data
All new websites should have that facility to allow you to enter other key information that tells the search engines about your pages. This information is called Meta Data, which is the page title and page description that is then presented in the search results pages.
The Meta Title in the above example is Blue Widgets in Manchester, which is displayed on the top line and the Meta Description is the third and fourth lines of text. It is important to include your keyword phrase into the Meta Title as this is something the search engines look at for ranking. However, while the example shows keywords in the description, its only importance is for relevance. The description is primarily there to give confidence to the searcher that this website is indeed one they should be clicking through to find out all about Widgets in Manchester.
We now move on to discuss the actual textural content on a web page. In essence, a web page should be structured in the form of a report. A well laid out report will have a title and a series of headings, then text and images/diagrams below each heading. Okay, so a web page will have a meta title (as explained above) and the top of the page will have a main Heading (labelled as H1), then say, some text before a sub heading (labelled as H2), then some text/images and so on. The search engines (as readers of a report) will look to these headings so it can understand what the page is about. By including keywords in the Headings will further help the Search engines understand your website and in so doing strengthen your chances of having the website/page ranked.
The textural content you provide on your web pages to explain your products and services should also include keyword phrases. Any images or videos you insert into your pages should also have keywords in their filenames and in the properties (tags). Why? because it makes it easier for the search engines to understand what you whole website is about and therefore think highly of you when ranking in their search results pages.
Now to refer back to the earlier health warning, please don’t go thinking that all you have to do now is to stuff keywords into the web text, images, Meta data, etc. and Google will reward you with a nice position on page 1…. Wrong!! The whole essence of the algorithm updates is to stop websites from trying to trick the search engines but in turn rank the best websites in the eyes of the searchers. So make sure your website content is unique, written in your language, is of interest and relevant to your potential customers and is well structured with pointers to the keywords and phrases. If you do this then you’re sure to be rewarded.
While we’ve taken a very basic approach to explaining these five points, please feel free to ask questions or comment below about your own experiences of making a new website search engine friendly.