Fresh eyes

How to make friends with search engines

how to make friends with search engines

Published by Andy Butler,
at Freshfield

Search engine optimisation has had particularly bad press of late. Google in particular has imposed penalties on companies including Interflora for using unacceptable practices to boost their rankings by obtaining ‘spurious’ backlinks from other websites.

Rather than trying to obtain lots of backlinks, there is much you can do on your website to make your organisation as easy to find and do business with as possible.

These include:

1. Generate great content

All search engines are looking to do is give users the best possible experience by delivering quality content. This means creating a balanced website design that is easy on the eye, with stimulating infographics and engaging text.

2. Put out the ‘welcome mat’

The page title, URL and meta description can all be seen when searching for a site, and also when content is shared on social networks like LinkedIn and Google+. These should be clear, concise and welcoming so that they encourage people to come in for a look around – like an attractively laid-out shop window.

3. Don’t overuse keywords

Keyword use is clearly crucial, but so is readability. So don’t plaster the page with keywords. Consider using singular and plural, synonyms and alternative keywords. Also remember the over optimisation penalty. Google is keeping a close lookout in order to direct users to the best sites and over-use of keywords will affect your rankings until you fix the problem.

4. Use lots of headings and sub-headings

Headings and sub-headings that include keywords are especially advantageous. These simple but effective typographic devices not only enhance your page design by breaking up text into bite-sized chunks, but also boost your search engine performance.

5. Visuals are key, but don’t forget text

There’s no doubt that websites based on powerful visual content look stronger, but visual material alone gives Google nothing to ‘read’. To enable this vital function you must ensure you are using a significant proportion of text. This is also true of using HTML instead of Flash, because Google can’t read Flash content.

6. Have an XML sitemap

An XML sitemap shows Google the way round your site – rather like a helpful and informative tour guide. As a result, by putting a sitemap together you make Google’s job easier and will soon see the benefits in the form of better rankings.

For more advice on how to boost your search engine rankings in the right way, contact us.

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