Search Engine Visibility on a BudgetPosted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Helen
As the importance of SEO becomes more well-known, we’re taking on an increasing number of projects for small businesses who have existing websites and limited budgets. The websites that they originally set up may not have been built with SEO in mind, or even to best practice regarding the coding standards we would normally apply when building a new site. However, even with a small budget and half a day’s work, it can be possible to take a site that cannot be found anywhere in Google and give it a significant boost. This usually does not involve much recoding, and seldom changing the site’s appearance – it’s more a case of ensuring the right tags (for example, the title and meta tags) are in the right place and say the right things, and adjusting the written content to make sure it reflects what the site is about.
This may sound like common sense, but it’s quite easy to accidentally write a site’s content in a way that means it could be ignored by Google for what it supposed to be its target key phrase. A common mistake is making the title tag of the homepage just say “Home”. Another related problem is starting the website with a generic heading such as “Welcome to my Website”. These are the first things that Google will read when it encounters a site, so, if you are a York builder, as one of our recent clients is, these two important places ought to include phrases such as “builder in York“. If you have graphics and headers already proclaiming that this is what you do, it’s sometimes easy to forget that although the human eye sees these as prominent, search engines may not. Even if there is relevant alt text behind the image, Google wants to know that you’re so certain of your identity as a York builder that you’ve made it your website’s main heading. Preferably twice, in the title bar and as the H1 heading.
However, search engines, although not yet sentient (we hope) have evolved a bit of cynicism. If, for example, a webpage has headings declaring that the site belongs to a York architect, but the body text does not contain phrases such as “architect in York” or even mention the words “York” or “architecture” very much at all, Google may look at it, get a bit hopeful at the beginning about its relevance to architecture, but then be disappointed when the rest of the site’s content doesn’t follow through. It needs to be reassured that the title isn’t just a red herring. Fortunately, it’s quite an easy adjustment to make. If someone genuinely is a York-based architect, it’s a sensible thing for them to state on their website, if they haven’t already.
This is another illustration of how writing content for search engines should not be regarded as a separate art from writing for human readers. The fine-tuning of the details is what makes the difference.