SEO: Optimising your web content


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Slides for Guardian Media Network seminar on Search Engine Optimisation

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SEO: Optimising your web content

  1. 1. Understand and Master SEOOptimising your web presence
  2. 2. What is SEO? Search engine optimisation is the process of improving the visibility of a website or specific web page to a search engine. This is done by observing the rules used by search engines to rank content, and maximising a page’s potential visibility.
  3. 3. Across the web On the page
  4. 4. Things we will avoid• SEO Spam: Hidden text & links, keyword repetition etc• Duplicate title tags• Pages with multiple URLs• Non optimised image & video content
  5. 5. We will put maximum effort into:• Planning with specific goals in mind• Checking & improving content, user journeys & appropriate tagging• Perfecting on page optimisation• Using analytics to perfect goal attainment• Tracking & improving referral performance• Courting & creating quality back links
  6. 6. Your personal SEO PlanLearning & Planning
  7. 7. 1. Organisational GoalsPrimary Business Goal eg. eCommerce TransactionAdditional Goal eg. Email sign upAdditional Goal eg.ePetitionAdditional Goal eg. Awareness raising, content sharing
  8. 8. Bringing traffic to your site isn’t the same as achieving company goals
  9. 9. Is your business ready fortraffic?Running a very successful SEO campaigncan be brilliant for your bottom line if your organisation’s products and services are scalable. If you run a small start up, ensure that youhave contingencies in place for a successful campaign.
  10. 10. 2. Website readiness• Does your site facilitate reaching organisational goals?• Are there specific paths that users can take which lead to conversion?• What does conversion look like?• Where do visitors land?
  11. 11. The good news?Good SEO practice is strongly aligned with good accessibility and content practice. In general, actions that assist SEO will also help improve your site’s usability and relevance.
  12. 12. How?• Using text and detailed descriptions makes your site more visible to search engines• Carefully placed, appropriate keywords help guide visitors to the most relevant content• HTML descriptions of flash files and .gif images assist screen readers and search engines• More regularly updated content is good for visitors and SEO• Engines love strong site navigation
  13. 13. ExerciseDescriptions and Alt tags
  14. 14. <imgsrc=“img2756203.jpg” alt=“”> VS <imgsrc=“puppy.jpg” alt=“puppy”> VS <imgsrc=“puppy.jpg” alt=“dalmatian puppy playing fetch”> DON’T DO THIS: <imgsrc="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy dog babydog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"/>
  15. 15. Task:Provide good context foryour image on the pageImage file name:Alt Tag:Keywords to scatter throughcopy:
  16. 16. 2. Website ReadinessFeature Exists Planned RatingAbout Page / Org historyProduct / Service InfoPurchasing / DonationCustomer SupportNews pages / BlogContact / Lead formOffline Contact detailsBricks & Mortar Business infoLinks to other resourcesEducational Materials
  17. 17. Who makes these changes?• Editing HTML on all site pages• Creating Robots.txt files• XML site map• Customer facing site map• Converting graphics to optimised text• Rewriting page text for optimisation• Ensuring Flash files have alternative HTML text
  18. 18. 3. Conversion Goals Goal Target Conversion Potential Conversion Audience Page Landing PageNewsletter sign up Alumni Thank you page Latest news
  19. 19. Tracking & ImprovingGoals & Conversions
  20. 20. Conversions as Goals
  21. 21. Collecting Keywords• Put yourself in the mind of your target audience – what search terms will they use?• Prevalent words on your site• Your website statistics• Industry media• Internal searches• Competitor’s website• Related search results
  22. 22.
  23. 23. What does it mean?• Which keywords are creating the most visits?• Are they also the words with the most Pages / Visit? Average time on site?• Which words have the highest bounce rate?• Which landing pages are these words leading to?• How do these relate back to your conversion goals?
  24. 24. Data collection time!
  25. 25. Relevance, Popularity &CompetitionKeyword (s) Relevance Popularity CompetitionDigital High 74,000 LowSwitchoverLegal Support High 60,500 MediumStrategic High 480 MediumBusinessConsultancy
  26. 26. Compiling your shortlist• Combine to create long tail search terms• Choose appropriate landing pages• Value of keyword conversions• Beware of single word groups• Be discerning when deciding relevance• How many sponsored listings are there for a given term?• Google allintitle:“keyword”
  27. 27. Ranking your shortlistedKeywords• Search your keywords on google/yahoo/msn• Does your site appear within the top 30? Take a note of the number• Is the result Web / Image / Video / Directory?• Look at organic searches onlyThis is a good time to note where competitors rankfor your chosen terms, as well as any potentialbroken links to your site
  28. 28. Don’t forget Queries
  29. 29. Small note on Paid Promotion• Use Google Analytics to tag URLs for banner campaigns so that source data can be tracked in your reports• Use auto tagging for AdWords campaigns• Link paid search through to named conversions on Google Analytics to ensure reliable tracking
  30. 30. Is your site indexed?• Google / MSN• Take a note of how many links are listed• Check to make sure there are no old pages or pages you want to keep unlisted• Search for URLs with “” to double check each page has been listed
  31. 31. Keeping Search bots off yoursite• Robots.txt (see for more info)• URL removal tool (Google Webmaster)Not linking to a page will not ensure that itcan’t be found. For example if that pagebecame a referral page for another site, theymay list it at some point.
  32. 32. Set a baseline
  33. 33. Choose your metrics carefully• Unique visitors / visits• Page views• Pages / visit• Average time on site• Bounce rate• Referral URLs• Traffic from search engines• Geotargeting (webmaster tools)
  34. 34. B2B vs B2CAdvantages & Challenges
  35. 35. Business to Business• Your target audience is much more well defined and therefore more easily found and targeted• High %age of conversions which are usually of higher value• Large amounts of text on your website which can be more easily optimised
  36. 36. Challenges• High quality links can be harder to come by due to the smaller audiences involved• Campaigns can be harder to judge due to the longer conversion cycle• Dynamic, rich media content is not so prevalent on B2B websites & therefore less potential for sharing
  37. 37. Business to Consumer• Access to wide and varied content raising potential for sharing• Potential for user generated content like reviews• Much more defined relationship between sale value and SEO value• Higher potential for quality back links from large news websites
  38. 38. Challenges• Varied audience with a range of online skills (unpredictable)• Who are your competition? Online is a completely different landscape• Less well defined sales process which usually includes branding as one of the goals
  39. 39. Organisation sizeBeing a large organisation can be great fornewsworthiness but detrimental when itcomes to the following:• Large pay per click campaigns can be unwieldy• Brand continuity across departments• Clarity of campaign message• Old links and out of date content
  40. 40. Organisation sizeBeing a small organisation means you canbe more agile when it comes to web updatesand campaign tailoring. Challenges come inthe form of :• Size• Budget• Resources
  41. 41. 4. Action your findingsDoes this page have… Y/NA unique HTML Page title?Target keywords in the title?At least 400 words HTML text?Exact keyword phrases within the body text?HTML text links from the homepage?HTML text links from other site pages?Images / Video with ALT tags and title descriptions?
  42. 42. Right click on any page and click “view source”
  43. 43. Meta descriptions can be used bysearch engines to describe links
  44. 44. Writing content for SEOOn & off your own site pages
  45. 45. On Page• Optimised content is a means to an end – it has to appeal to your audience!• Less is definitely more when it comes to scattering keywords throughout your text• Vary the versions of a keyword group, do not replace every generic term to the detriment of readability• Split long tail terms with punctuation and line breaks
  46. 46. Where should you includekeywords?• Headlines• Sub Headlines• Image Descriptions and Alt tags• Main article copy (conservatively)• Link text• Navigation links• Calls to action
  47. 47. However, don’t get hung up on:• Keyword density• Keyword prominence• Subparts / Stems (read, reads etc)• Related terms• Synonyms• Modifiers (science fiction, supernatural fiction)
  48. 48. These things are important but should be used as part of your natural writing style. Again, copy that is designed to appeal toyour users naturally lends itself to including your keywords within the elements of a page. Google uses a multitude of metrics todetermine your page relevance and rank.You will never truly know exactly how their algorithm works!
  49. 49.
  50. 50. Integrated Blog• Is your CMS system SEO friendly?• Plan & schedule updates from a range of contributors including clients• Don’t get hung up on your keywords when it comes to blogging• Make the content easy to share & available in different formats (like video / text / PDF)• Spend time on community engagement• Remember links (especially internal)
  51. 51. ExerciseContributor list
  52. 52. Blog Schedule • Staff from differentWho do you have access towho could provide quality departmentscontributions? • ClientsWhat kind of content couldyou easily produce? • Potential clients • Suppliers • End users • Sector bloggers
  53. 53. 5. Quality link planning• Rediscover content you already have – can it be syndicated?• Make a list of potential blogs to connect with• Do you comment on other blogs?• Who do you send your press releases to?• Offer to be a guest blogger / writer• Spend time and resources creating content to place on reputable sites with strong page rank
  54. 54. Requesting a link• Who is linking to your top 3 competitors – can you get in on the action?• Do any of your top clients have websites?• Which sites come up top in your keyword searches – do they take submissions?• Do any sites mention your company but do not link to your pages?• Are you a member of any business associations?• Sympathetic campaigning sites for charities
  55. 55. Approaching bloggers• Be familiar with their content, spend time interacting on the site• It’s about content that’s right for their audience, not selling your website to the blog owner• Do your research and mention past posts• Be polite – your letter could easily be published• If you would like a review, send a free sample but accept that you have no control over their opinions
  56. 56. Assess if a link is worthwhile• Are your keywords within the article on the site or - even better - do they perform the function of the link?• Are both sites aimed at the same audience?• Is the link coming from a flattering article?• Is it linking to the most appropriate page?These are things that search engines are looking fortoo, and it helps them assess both the link and yoursite.
  57. 57. STOP! Don’t forget internal links Every opportunity to link to content within your site is another pathway for search engines to find your content.Avoid “click here” and use keyword rich text for maximum results.
  58. 58. DirectoriesGeneric:• (The Open Directory)• (Yahoo Open Directory)• (Bricks & Mortar Business)Sector specific• Be wary of directories that charge• Are your competitors there?• Check the site back links & indexed pages
  59. 59. Social SearchWhere does social networking fit in?
  60. 60. Social networking• The more your content is shared the better it is for your SEO• Make sharing easy by embedding share options on your pages• Encourage employees to get involved in the sharing love• Don’t forget social bookmarking!
  61. 61. EU Cookie LawHelp!
  62. 62. Early days• Too early for any statistically relevant data on how many users will “opt out”• More important than ever to make sure you use specific, traceable links in advertising, link building and social media (UTM)• Use to help you put together your own opt in options• Show willing. Don’t panic.
  63. 63. Things to remember• Have holistic SEO practices to ensure you’re not caught out by changes in algorithms and trends• Don’t stop when you get to the top – expand!• Always take quality over quantity whether it’s links, leads or keywords• Promote your whole site, not just the homepage
  64. 64. Useful resources•••••••
  65. 65. Jennifer D