If you are interested in optimising your web pages, you may be happy to know that you can read people's advice for the next 40 hours straight and probably not consume all of the advice and analysis available on the subject. We've done a lot of reviewing and have found a lot of redundancy, a good deal of outdated information and learned a few interesting techniques that you may want to think about. Hopefully, you've read the previous articles in our SEO series so that you have designed your website correctly and filled the pages with useful content. Here are some of the best tips we've come across to optimise those pages.
Headlines are a major component in determining page rank. As a result, it's important to use keywords in headings, to situate keywords in close proximity to one another when possible, and to use techniques such as bolding and font size to emphasize the text.
- Headlines need to be written not only for the search engine spider but also for the reader.
- Avoid making headlines into ads; focus on benefits rather than on features. For example,
Avoid: Our healing cream has five special ingredients!
Say: Our special ingredients will reduce the size and color of your scars in just weeks.
- Keep headlines shorter and avoid jargon. For example:
Avoid: Technological advances increase throughput for more desirable outcomes.
Say: Our technology works faster and achieves better results.
- Be sure that headings carry HTML headers heading tags.
In the past, experts have warned against using a large palette of colour because most Internet users only see about 256 colors, creating substitutions that can distort the look of your site. However, most people now have much higher power monitors that can handle a greater array of colours so you should feel freer to use the colour combinations that work best for your site. However, do remember that colours transmit moods and feelings so be sure that your colour choices are suitable.
- Try to use your keyword or words in the first sentence but only if it makes sense. Keyword density over about 15% is viewed negatively by both spiders and readers.
- Less content is better than more content. It's difficult to keep a reader's attention if they have to keep scrolling down a page. If you have that much information to offer, break it up into additional pages.
- Differentiate yourself from competitors by emphasising the advantages of your product or service.
- Provide useful information. Everyone wants to learn something useful, even if they've come to your site expressly to buy something. Provide information on uses, give examples of the product in an appropriate setting or provide history or background of the product or field.
- Link the page to other pages within your site. For example, if you sell a plant growth enhancer, discuss why it's particularly useful in growing roses and link to a page on new rose hybrids.
This is a bit tricky because it involves HTML coding. In the past, the HTML font tag identified the font to be displayed. However, if that font wasn't available on the viewer's computer, a default font could be used that might make a big difference in how your page looks. The newer, better method is to employ the 'font family' code which essentially gives a cascading list of fonts that can be substituted, all within a family that will keep the basic character of the page intact. This is a big improvement over the original method which could take your 'comics sans' font and display it in 'courier'.
Meta description tags
The Meta tag describes what the website is about. There's no limit to how many words can be used in the Meta tag but most experts believe that the Meta tag should not exceed two lines. The Meta tag should contain your important keywords and it should succinctly describe the kind of information available on the site.
Sitemaps were originally used to help searchers if they got lost in the site and couldn't retrace steps to get to where they wanted to go. Although they are now less common, the site map is an excellent way to help a user understand the logic of the site, get to where they want to go efficiently and tie together all of the site's elements. You can actually use a sitemap generator tool to build your site map and, in some of the paid versions, the tool will also submit your sitemap to search engines (See our article, “A sitemap is not just a map, it’s an SEO tool”.)
Paying a bit of attention to small but important elements of your site can lead to higher ranking, more pages viewed and happier clients.
In our next article in our SEO series, we discuss a less well know way to optimise your site, i.e., the use of press releases.