Tiernan’s Top Tips: Search Engine Optimisation

On a basic level, the definition of “SEO” is finding ways to improve your website’s appearance in search engine results, which generally results in more traffic to your website.

This week’s blog gives you some basic top tips to help optimise your website for search engines…

SEO key1. Choose your keywords carefully

Keywords are an essential part of SEO. Think about the key terms associated with your website and then think about how people might search for those words – it’s more likely that searchers will use two- or three-word phrases rather than individual words.

2. ALT tag your images

You might not think that images on your website have any relevance when it comes to SEO. However, alt tags [otherwise known as ‘alternative text’] allow you to describe an image in around 125 characters. This is not only useful for search engines but also for users with disabilities who rely on browsers to read pages to them.

Make a list of images on your site and carefully create alt tags for each. Where possible, include your keywords. If your website has a Content Management System (CMS) then you should be able to enter the alt tags yourself. Otherwise, pass them on to your website manager and ask them to include the tags for you.

Love links chain heart3. Love links

It’s difficult to ignore the importance of links in any SEO strategy. Search engines use links to determine the popularity of a website or page, as well as its trustworthiness and authority.

If you want to read more about links, here’s a good resource.

4. Make your URLs search-friendly

A URL is a web address for a particular webpage. If your URLs are a bit long and filled with numbers and symbols, it’s probably time for a review. The best URLs are human-friendly and contain your best keywords.

In addition, shorter URLs tend to be better and you should use hyphens to separate words instead of underscores, plus symbols and spaces.

5. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are often underestimated in SEO strategies but provide a full list of URLs on your website, which can be easily crawled by search engines. It also enables search engines to discover fresh content more quickly than crawling your whole website.

6. Blogs are best

Blogs aren’t only a great way to inform and entertain people – they can help you collect links (see point 3 above) and provide fresh content for the search engine crawlers. Search engines reward fresh content by visiting the website more often and including keywords in your blog will help with your SEO efforts.

7. Be social

Social networks allow you to share information and links which drive traffic to your website. Search engines like Google and Bing also crawl social media sites regularly, using numbers of followers, retweets and shares of a link to help determine which websites are trustworthy or authoritative.

Hourglass for SEO patience

8. Patience is a virtue

So you’ve done all you can to improve your site. Now what? Be patient – it can be six months or more before you start to see any real results from your SEO efforts. That’s not to say you won’t see any fast results but it’ll be a while before you can really start to see the full impact.

But don’t forget…search engines can change the way they search at the drop of a hat and you can be top of Google one day and page six the next – so don’t put your feet up and think it’s all over…