by Alan Stainer – Guest Contributor
So by now you all know what SEO is right? Right?
What do you mean you haven’t read last week’s column?!
Anyway, in the previous column I mentioned you can do Search Engine Optimization yourself and I also hinted at the vast scope of SEO as a subject. Don’t feel put off just because of me, there are things you can do. You may even be doing some of them right now without realising it.
DISCLAIMER: A lot of SEO is about corrective actions to improve the crawlability of a web page. While they may not sky rocket your site to page one of Google, they will stop your site being penalised in search.
As I mentioned keywords last week, we shall start there. Keywords are the bread and butter of search. Without them search engines wouldn’t even exist. However (and I am taking a deep breath here), the use of keywords can easily be abused. When writing content you should have your chosen keywords in the back of your mind, but making your copy readable and useful is more important. Search engines of today can interpret a lot about a page without having to overuse keywords and are designed to rank quality over quantity. So write content for people, not for search engines.
You can include keywords in places other than the body of your content as well. Page titles, page addresses (URLs), file names of embedded content (images and the like) are all valid options. As before though, remember not to overdo it.
Speaking of images, that’s another place you can easily improve your site. Simply by making sure your images are not too large (and by large I mean the file size), you will be speeding up the load times for your website’s pages. No one likes hanging around for a page to load and the search engines know this. Faster pages (with quality content) generally rank better than slower pages. You can do a lot just by making sure your images are the right size before uploading. It’s easy to do in any graphics package. Alternatively there are many image optimisation apps out in the great wide world. Too many to list here.
It may seem obvious, but using headings in appropriate places really does help. There are six different sizes of headings in HTML (that’s the language of web pages) from h1 (the largest) to h6 (the smallest). You should only have one h1 heading per page. All the rest will be sub headings nested one under the other. If it helps, think of headings as defining sections of content. That is exactly what the search engines expect whenever they find a heading, so staying consistent makes it easier for them to understand your page.
Lastly, you may have created the most fantastic and amazing web page in the entire world! Unless you tell people about it, it probably won’t attract many visitors. This is where marketing gets thrown into the SEO mix. Use every means at your disposal to promote the pages you create, whether it be via email, advertising, social media or word of mouth. Your activity on and offline can all help.