Getting Google to Love your site

Search Engine Optimisation is important if you want to attract visitors to your site. There are some general rules about improving your site’s Google rankings:

  1. Identify the keywords that you want to use for your site. These will be the things that people search on to find you.
  2. Include your keywords in page titles, headings, content text, link names etc as appropriate. The more Google sees your keywords the better a user searching for those terms will find you. Don’t go overboard though.
  3. In your content create links to sites like yours, this reasures Google that your content is actually about the keywords you are using.
  4. Have other sites link to yours, using your keywords in the link name. Google like these links.

Writing for the Web

People read differently when they are on the web. People visiting your site want to scan the text to decide if they will stay and read. You want to get and keep their attention Here are some tips;

  1. Try to think about your content from the perspective of your key target audience. Then write for them as succinctly as possible. Simple, direct and jargon free language works best.
  2. Make your page titles clear and keyword focused.
  3. Put the punch line up front. Get people interested in the title, first sentence and paragraph – especially with news content.
  4. Keep your sites top level pages brief. People get frustrated with long pages that require scrolling. Frustrated people will leave your site.
  5. Sometimes you will need a longer page to explain something detailed. Be mindful of how much information is required by a typical user of that page, and prioritise key information higher up the page.
  6. Make your content scannable. Break up longer pages with headings, short paragraphs and bullet lists.
  7. Use consistent styles, particularly headings (eg H2 and H3). Keyboard shortcuts that can skip between headings are used by power users and people with disabilities.
  8. Use bullet points. People can scan lists easily – but try to keep them to 7 or 8 points max.
  9. Links should be a useful phrase– For example use “…read an interesting related fact” rather than “to read an interesting related fact click here”.
  10. Link to organisations when they are mentioned, using their name as the link phrase. the reader then can easily find out more information and it increases your search engine optimisation potential.

Styling Tips

Styles make sure that your content looks consistent. Headings and paragraphs should all be the correct style. This will ensure your site retains its design integrity and will allow single changes in the site template to affect all relevant content.

  1. Use your wysiwyg editors style or format drop down to identify that your styles are consistently applied.
  2. If you copy and paste from another application you should clean your content first. Use the editor’s “insert from word or external source” button, or paste it notepad first or another text editor first. Word documents often bring odd formatting code into your content changing the way it appears.
  3. Don’t centre, underline or colour headings or text for emphasis. These will just interfere with the look and feel of your site. Use bold sparingly for emphasis and only within paragraphs.
  4. Use italics only for publications references.
  5. Don’t underline text. It gets confused with links.
  6. Heading 1 is automatically assigned to the title of an article so should not be used in the body.
  7. Heading 2 should be used to style main headings within a page. Heading 3 should be used to style subheading of the Heading 2 and so on.
  8. Review your work from the front end of the site – make sure it is easy to read and you have added enough paragraph spacing.
  9. Check that your links work.

Image Tips

Images add colour and context to your website content. The Web is a visual media so using images is expected and useful. It is easy to overdo images. Here are some tips.

  1. Resize your images in Photoshop or another image editor before you upload. Use the “Save for the Web” option and resize to size which suits your site. 200 pixels wide is usually fine.
  2. Make your images colourful and relevant.
  3. People and items should fill the frame. Use the cropping tool to do this. It is better to have a head and shoulders shot rather than a person with lots of background.
  4. Always use Alt Tags for images. This is good practice for accessibility and will help search engines know more about your content.
  5. Always position the image floating with the text (often best to its right) rather than with text above and below.
  6. Pictures wider than the centre column will break the formatting of the page and it will not appear as you intended. If you need to show larger image then create a thumbnail on a content page, and link from it to the larger image.

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