Your Website & Search Engine Optimisation

by Kimberlie Clare-Campbell

There is a lot of talk about site optimisation (SEO) however; most people don’t know what it is and are wondering it it's just another bit of geek-speak!

How we find things on the Web

When you look for a product or service you usually type keywords into a search engine (google, yahoo are examples of popular search engines). The search engine will then return a list of websites & webpages that it feels are relevant to your keyword search. If your websites are optimised so that Search Engines can easily find the key components they look for to rank the pages in your website, your website/page will appear high up on a returning search page. Most people only visit business on the first page of their search results.

How Search Engines find things on the Web

Search engines rank pages for keyword relevance by sending out spiders or bots to 'read' each webpage on the web and gather keywords from the page. The spiders have been programmed to look for the relevance of information they gather to the context of the page. From this information the search engine will create a page ranking for each page in your site. Search engines will regularly send out their spiders to your site to look for changes. If your site has been updated since their last visit they will visit again in a shorter time space to monitor and note any changes. If your site hasn't been changed since their last visit they will exend the time between visits. Pages that are frequently updated receive a higher ranking than those who are not updated frequently.

Components Search Engines Look for Include:

  • Title tag - You need a relevant title, not just "Home Page" Use it for 5 key words.

  • Headings - Search engines view < h> tags as being terms of emphasis - they give weight to the words within them. Put key terms in < h1> & tags.

  • Bold - Of lesser importance than < h> tags. The < b> tags still emphasise terms of importance.

  • Alt text - Use descriptive short sentences in your alt tags especially for images as spiders can't see pictures they can only read text.

  • Email addresses listed on your site - make sure the domain name in the email address matches the web site domain. Ie use ‘’ instead of ‘’ The search engines look at it as suspect if you don't.

  • Keyword metatags - Some engines use them directly, some check them as part of a validation process - "do they match the content"? If they don't could this be a spam site?

  • Keyword frequency across all pages. Does the content really speak about the subject which the page and the website is supposed to be about?

  • Keywords in the url - You can use keywords in the filename. For example if the page is about Tie Dye tshirts, then call it ""

  • Meta description tag - Most engines look at this tag. Use distinct ones throughout your site, and distinct ones for each page. Make them particular to that page.

  • Keyword placement - Words that are higher up on a page are more heavily weighted.

  • Keyword proximity - Words that are close together are probably related, and thus the site will show up in searches for those terms.

  • Inbound links
    • How many other web pages around the Internet point to your web site? Your site is given a Rating from pages linking to a page and the Number of links on pages linking to your page.
    • the quality of the pages linked to your page - many 'businesses' offer to link to your site to improve your ranking, however, links are only 'counted' if they are relevant to your site content. These 'reciprocal links' may count against you if the site that is linking back is only a link site and not relevant to your business.
    • If the link back to your web site is the only link on a page in a site, it's viewed as being more valuable than being one link among 100 links on a web page.
    • Freshness of links on pages linking to your web site. While the engines will count all links, a link from a web site that has not been updated in a year or two will be less valuable than from one that is updated daily. It indicates activity / interest levels. ·        

  • Reciprocal Links -
    • Search engines like to see a closed loop - that a referring site as also used as a reference. So when you are giving away a link, ask for one back. It will help both websites.

  • Response Time - If your site is fast to load on a screen, it's favoured.

  • Page Size - The engines tend to weigh content at the start of a document more than content further down. If a page is long, look at breaking it into sections. If a page is over 50k, then it's too long.

  • Page Last Modified (Freshness) - a page that is updated frequently is more highly favoured.

Is your website optimised to include all these important points? If it isn't your search engine page ranking maybe low, your website maybe hard for potential customers to find and your web sales or web referrals maybe suffering. How do you know if this is happening to your website? You can read all about assessing your website and website analytics

Copyright © Kimberlie Clare-Campbell 2012

If you are planning a website or if you are reviewing your existing website you may also like to read these articles:

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