Search Engine Optimisation made Simple

If Search Engine Optimisation seemed like rocket science you’ve probably avoided dealing with the issue – but its time to face your fears. Over the coming issues, Optimise will be examining the many factors governing successful SEO to help you get the most from your SEO strategy.

In order for you to rank and get traffic from Google or other search engines, they have to be able to ‘read’ your website. The trick is in knowing the many ways to make this easier for them.

There are some basic rules to follow when optimising a website, and those relating to your keywords and phrases are just one out of hundreds of factors that make up search engine optimisation. In this edition we look at the importance of keywords and key phrases.

Keyword Density

Chosen keywords and phrases should clearly show on the pages of your website in order for the search engines to know what is important. Getting the correct ratio between keywords to page content is one of the keys to good optimisation.

Although there is always a lot of debate about this, it’s important to get the overall occurrence of phrases throughout the text just right. Too few and search engines won’t realise that these are important enough, too many and search engines may think you are trying to trick them and may penalise the website as a result.

The phrases need to be spread evenly throughout the body of text, occurring at regular intervals, but still keeping with the natural flow of the content without making the reader feel as though the phrases are being ‘forced’ upon them.

It’s also important that text is visible to the reader. Search engines should be treated like any other visitor to the website, so we will ensure that the keyword-rich text is clearly visible. Under no circumstances should the colour of the text match that of the background (e.g. white text on a white background). This is seen by search engines as an attempt to deceive them.

Headings and sub-headings, also referred to as <h1> and <h2> tags, also carry some weight with search engines and it’s advisable to have your phrase/s present here too. Only two or three phrases at most should be covered on any one page. Trying to cram too many different phrases on one page will dilute the strength of the main phrases.

Keyword Positioning

Another consideration is the positioning of the keyword phrase/s on the page. The closer the phrase is to the top of the page, more ‘weight’ search engines will give it. So it’s important to have this ideally in a heading. The relative size and font strength also carries some weight, so here we’d have an <H1> style heading tag in bold. It’s important that these are used sparingly though. Too many <H1> tags on a page could potentially cause harm (and may cheapen the look of your website). If it looks like it shouldn’t be there, then it probably shouldn’t!

ALT tags on Images

Wherever possible, ALT tags on images should also contain an instance of your phrase. As with optimising copy though, these should not be ‘stuffed’ with unnecessary information or too much wording. Putting a keyword within these alt tags helps add another instance of your chosen key phrases on the page.

In the next issue of Optimise we will be taking a deeper look into writing keyword rich page content. To achieve successful SEO results it is important to remember that search engine algorithms are always changing and it is crucial to be able to identify these changes early and stay ahead of the game.