Having recently trained our clients in using the Content Management Systems for their sites, the client often and quite rightly asks us about ‘Google Results’. After all what is the point in us designing a great looking, intuitive, accessible website if it’s not getting any traffic through the Search Engines?
Here is a quick beginner’s guide to some terms you may hear, and tips on the basics of Search Engine Optimisation.
We strongly recommend you read this full document thoroughly before making any changes to your website.
Confused by some of the terms?
Firstly lets start with a little Jargon Busting;
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation The process of optimising your site/pages to be found for particular seach queries.
SERPS – Search Engine Results Pages These are the search engine pages which return the results for search queries.
Organic Listings The results that appear naturally in a search engine (listings that are not sponsored/paid for).
PPC – Pay Per Click A form of advertising on SERPs and other web pages; you pay each time someone clicks on your link.
Keyword Research - The process of determining which keyword/s and phrases you would like to be found for.
Analytics - A system allowing you to analyse the traffic on your site. Answering essential questions such as; How many visitors to your site? How long did they spend on the page? Where did they come from?
Spiders/Robots/Crawlers - Don’t worry arachnophobes, this is nothing to worry about. Think of these as the things that read your site content and feed information back to the search engine database
Black Hat / White Hat - As with all things in life there is good and bad. White Hat is the process of optimising your site correctly for the search engines. Black Hat is trying to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner. Examples of this include.
• Duplicate Content, Pages, Sites
• Invisible words – white text on white background
• Keyword Stuffing
As tempting as these may seem, DO NOT use these methods as they WILL negatively impact upon your SEO and you can be removed from the results pages.
Site Map A – list of pages on a web site read by the search engines (through those crawlers). Sitemaps tell the Search Engines which pages to look for and you can determine which pages are more important than others.
URL - This is a very elaborate name for your web address for example our URL is www.aawen.com, the URL could also be www.aawen.com/graphic-designers-truro.html
What helps my site appear in the SERPS?
Let’s start at the very beginning and we’ll work our way through from the top of the web page.
Before gearing your site up to dominate the search engines its important to stand back and determine what you want to be found for, evaluate the competition, and even set some goals.
Please remember the things to consider under the Black Hat and White Hat Jargon buster above.
URL – Uniform Resource Locator
What makes a good URL? An ideal URL will contain keywords that you wish to be found for.
A very base example; if my business was solely selling Pink Welly Boots in Cornwall, a great URL would be www.pink-wellies-cornwall.com/pink-wellington-boots-cornwall.html
Make sure your URLs are clean, ie. they use relevant words as opposed to numbers and symbols.
Page Title - At last a straightforward term that everyone can understand. Page title is exactly what it says, if you look at the top of your browser window you will see the title “Aawen Design Studio – Blog”. A good page title will be both descriptive of the content on the page and contain keywords you wish to be found for.
Meta Tags Keywords and Description Meta Tags are in the code behind the web page. They are not viewable by the user of the site but are readable by search engines. Description – Give a description of the content of your page, and include words that are relevant and again ones that you would like to be found for. Keywords – Here you place a list of keywords, separated by commas, these words should be used throughout the site and again the words that you wish to be found for(Keywords are no longer used by major search engines and including words that are not mentioned on the page itself may have a detrimental effect on ranking).
Content is King
Headers Search Engines read the copy of a page in a hierarchical format it will read headers first (this is specified in the code by H Tags – H1, H2, H3 etc etc. and not by font size or weight). Therefore try to place some keywords in the H tags as this is regarded as important information by the Search Engines
Text - Make sure your copy text is relevant, coherent and contains keywords that you wish to be found for.
Images – Alt Tags Images can not by read by the Search Engine Spiders so instead we use Alt Tags (Alternative Tags). This provides a text alternative to the image, a description of the image should be used and of course its helpful if it contains some of those keywords.
The number of sites linking to yours may help boost your rankings as this can be seen as your site being ‘recommended’.
Name the links on your site clearly and relevantly.
Flash - It is possible for Search Engines to now read the text in a flash document, however personally I much prefer good old fashioned HTML text. It is more accessible and is preferred by search engines.
Submit the Site Submit the site to your chosen search engines manually(do not use auto submit sites) at this point it is also recommended to submit the sitemap.
Patience - Results can take weeks to appear in the SERPs, it’s at the discretion of the search engines when/if they display results. Google Caffeine launched this year does mean that Google can index your site very quickly. SEO is a long term practice and not only requires good on page optimisation but also ongoing management of offsite optmisation.
Use your Tools - Analyse your site with your analytics tools, see how people get to your site. Review your keyword research and see what people are searching for regularly.
Updates - It’s good practice generally to update your site on a regular basis, for example keep your News and Blogs updated. Search engines like fresh content.
Hopefully this quick guide has helped explain some of the jargon and gives you some basic knowledge in SEO.
Sam is the Multimedia Designer at Aawen Design Studio, Cornwall, UK, working on projects from graphic design for Print and Web, to Web build and SEO.
Legal Bit: Although the information above is provided in the best interests of our readers it is a guide only, therefore any changes made to websites based upon this information is your responsibility and not the responsibility of Aawen Design or its Employees.