Putting your website on the internet is only the first part of the equation for attracting visitors to your site – optimising your web site is the next step.

There are millions upon millions of other web pages on the web and you need to do everything you can to make sure that your site is found when a potential customer searches for you.

Optimising your web site…

This needs to be done on a page-by-page basis. Each page on your site will have a slightly different focus and the optimisation process is designed to help the search engines to know the topic of each page.

Optimisation falls into two main sections: “on page” and “off page”. You’re in control of the “on page” aspect – it’s your site and you can amend pages whenever you want. We’ll deal with “on page” here.

Title Tag

This is the part of your page that shows up when your page appears in the Google search results. In the case of this page, it’s “Optimising Your Web Site – What You Need To Know”.

You should think of your title tag as being the headline that invites internet surfers to click and find out more. You need to include your main keyword phrase for the page in the title. Because of the way the search engine algorithms work, keywords nearer the start of the title are considered more important than words towards the end of the title. Which means that you should try to put your important keywords closer to the start of the title. However, since the title is designed to get people to click on it, don’t do this at the expense of readability.

The other thing to remember about titles is that search engines will only display the first 65 characters of the title (they may go over this by one or two characters, but don’t rely on this). If the title is longer, you’ll see an elypsis at the end, indicating that the complete title is longer:

 

For this particular page, the title was a lot longer at 104 characters.

What this means is that if you use long titles, you need to make sure they will make sense when they are displayed in the search results.

Meta description tag

It used to be that the description tag was always used by the search engines as the text below the title in the search results. Nowadays, this is happening less and less: Google and the other search engines are often using extracts from your page depending on what was searched for.

That said, there are occasions where your meta description tag is used, so it is worth putting in a precis of your page content. Make it snappy and reasonably concise – a good rule of thumb is no more than 160 characters, including spaces.

Heading tags

These are the titles that your site visitors see when they reach your page. Your website design software will help you put them into your pages.

Heading tags come in six different sizes.

H1 is the biggest and should only be used once on any given page, much the same way as a newspaper only has one headline for a story.

H2 is the next biggest and is used for important sub headings.

H3 through to H6 are used for other, less important, headings.

Google will pay attention to your heading tags to help determine what your page is about. And, of course, your site visitors will see the heading tags and use them to guide themselves through your pages.

Image names

Depending on your market, images may or may not be important for attracting visitors to your website.

Search engines find it harder to analyse pictures and other images so the name an image is given helps them with this task. Naming an image picture1.jpg is a lot less helpful to a search engine than calling the image title-tags.png (as the image above is called).

Don’t stress too much over image names. Just keep in mind that a meaningful name will help the search engines to make sense of your pictures and will also help you with finding them.

Other page content

This is the main text on your website pages. Write naturally but do your best to weave in your keyword phrase as you write. Be sensible – don’t use it too much but don’t skip your keyword phrase altogether!

If your page reads OK to you then it’s probably OK for the search engines as well. If you’re not sure, ask a friend to read it as well.

Click here for help with optimising your web site.

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