‘What’s this ‘SEO’ all about?’ asked my wife. She’d just started maintaining a small company website and ‘search engine optimisation’ had come up in conversation. ‘It’s all about words.” I replied. “Want me to explain? It’ll only take five minutes…”
A good half hour later and I’d finished my ramblings. “That must have been pretty boring?”, I offered. “Not at all”, was the polite response. Why did it take that long I pondered?
I reflected on my own first experiences of playing around with SEO and how I wished at the time that I could have found just a couple of sides of A4 that told me all the basic things I needed to do to a website page to make it ‘SEO’d’
For anyone starting out then, the following is my attempt at summarising basic ‘on-page’ SEO tactics. Just because it’s easier, I illustrate with reference to my own website.
Throughout, what needs to be borne in mind is that a search engine like Google is always looking for consistency with and relevance to a ‘keyword’ search i.e. the words or a phrase that someone’s typed into Google.
All the following tactics therefore need to reinforce one other and all need to endeavour to closely match with what a prospective customer is actually searching for. (I reference Google simply because more than 90% of searches happen via Google.)
- Webpage address (a.k.a the URL)
Choose a domain name that matches your business name as closely as possible, then expand upon it in your webpage address to reflect the specific content of the page and make it more helpful. NOTE: This is actually displayed on a Google search engine results page (SERP) in green text underneath the webpage title (next)
- Webpage title tag
The coding for your webpage will include a <title> tag, which similarly needs to help explain what the page is about. NOTE: This is what a Google SERP actually shows underlined in blue text. I recommend using less than 55 characters, so no words are shaved off.
e.g. Website Content Writer | Marcom Words | Copywriter | UK
- Webpage meta description tag
Also tucked away in your webpage code is a “meta description”. This should be an accurate summary of the webpage’s content. NOTE: A Google search reveals this so-called ‘snippet’ in dark grey text underneath the previous two items.
Using a maximum of 155 characters will ensure no words are shaved off.
e.g. You’ve a website, web pages or landing page to write. You need a writer who knows how to engage with customers and search engines. Call Rob 01225 426 815.
- Heading and sub-heading tags
Your web page code can contain six different sizes or strengths of heading tag, from <h1>, the most important, to <h6>, the least important. They help to structure a webpage and search engines take note of them.
e.g. <h1>: Website writing. Engaging with customers, search engine friendly
- Emphasis tags
To avoid unnecessary overuse of heading tags, the <em> and <strong> tags can be used in web page code to add emphasis to words, displaying them in italic and bold text styles respectively.
- Body copy
The words you present on your web page need to be informative, persuasive and SEO’d. While the right smattering of keywords (singular, plural, synonyms and related…) certainly does need to be included, the body copy needs to be well written and recognise the challenge presented by our habit of skim reading.
A good copywriter will always be able to focus on the benefits rather than the features and use headings, short paragraphs and bulleted lists to maximise engagement with the reader. He or she will also use the fewest words possible to achieve this…
- Anchor text
Links in your webpage body copy help to backup or emphasise your keywords. These can be internal links, which create greater interlinking between your website pages, or external links, connecting to other relevant websites. The anchor text is the word or string of words on which the link is set, and is read and indexed by a search engine.
- Alt tags and filenames on graphics
A graphic displayed on your webpage can possess two different attributes, its actual filename and what’s known as an ‘alt’ tag, which is text that’s displayed if the image can’t be displayed, because of a browser issue for example. While admittedly a tad too long, for simplicity I here use the exact same text for both filename and alt tag:
e.g. website content writer marcom words rob davies bath uk
Attend to all these basic on-page SEO tactics on your web pages and you won’t be going too far wrong at SEO’ing your website. While it can be quite a tedious task, it’s actually all about the words. Those you elect to use just need to be relevant and consistent throughout. That’s why a copywriter with a good appreciation of SEO can help!
Do not however be overzealous in applying these tactics. Search engine algorithms are incredibly clever things – almost human-like artificial intelligence. They will know when you’re stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny, they’ll sense when you’re using unnecessary links, they’ll suss out excessive use of heading tags on pages etc.
Remember though that while prospective customers do need to be able to find you easily via a search engine, once they’ve found your website, they will expect you to speak to them like intelligent human beings – and not like search engines…