The Basics of Optimising Content For The Web

You've spent all that time planning, structuring and writing the copy and creating content for your website pages. Now we summarise some of the basics of formatting your page to optimise for search engines and to improve readibility.

Remember that the more sense your page makes and the more useful it is to your website visitors, the better it is likely to rank in search engines. 

Meta Description

The Meta Description is one of the most critical components for optimising your web page. 

It tells search engines what the page is about, and is also the source of the summary that appears underneath the page title in search engine results and social media sharing posts - so it's important for humans to decide whether your page is what they're searching for too.

Format: 150 characters or less, include your primary keywords and summarise the article.

A Meta Description displayed in Google search results

Headings

Headings are really important for SEO and for readability on a web page. 

Breaking the page up with headings helps readability by giving quick context and clues to the content of the page and also by anchoring the eyes on the section being read. Headings are also one of the best places to include keywords.

Headings HTML

In HTML, headings are placed before paragraphs and are organised into levels of main headings and subheadings.

<h1> is the main heading generally used for the page title (on this page that's the 'The Basics of Optimising Pages For The Web' heading at the top of the page).

<h2> is the first level of subheading (on this page we've used h2 for the headings 'Meta Description', 'Headings'). 

<h3> can be used to head paragraphs underneath the h2 level (in this section we've used h3 for 'Headings HTML' and 'Headings with a WYSIWYG Editor).

<h4>, <h5> and <h6> headings can be used for further levels of subheadings on long pages of text.

Headings with a WYSIWYG Editor

If you have a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor for your website content, which is similar to the formatting controls in Microsoft Word, there is probably a dropdown box to select the type of text formatting that looks something like this:

 

Headings in a WYSIWYG editor

As mentioned, avoid using Heading One as this should have been assigned by your web developer for the page title. Start with Heading Two and then use the lower levels (Heading Three, Heading Four, Heading Five, Heading Six).

Avoid changing fonts or using font size options or colours to head or highlight paragrahs - that always runs the risk of making the page look less consistent and messy and will not be optimal for SEO. Avoid underline text too, because on a web page underline text is a visual clue that there is a link. Ideally your web developer will have disabled these formatting options in your editor.

Media & Links

Images

Although image tagging and scanning is becoming more intelligent, at the moment we should assume that search engines and even our human website visitors can't see the image itself. For example, they may have a poor internet connection, be visually impaired and using a screen reader. Or, perhaps the image moved or got deleted!

No Image Here
Caption: How it looks when the image can't be viewed

Title and 'alt' (Alternative) HTML tags should be used to describe the image in a few words, and means search engines and people will know what the image is for, even if they can't see the image itself. The alt tag will display when the image can't be displayed and a title also provides a tooltip when a visitor hovers over an image.

Captions should also be used to give context and credits for image use.

Video

When it comes to video, most of the SEO happens on the platform hosting the video, for example YouTube. A compelling video will help you increase the amount of time visitors are spending on your web page - but search engines and visually or hearing impaired people may not see or hear the content within for similar reasons to the images. A great way to overcome this is to provide a summary or a transcript of the video on the page.

Links

Hyperlinks are great for SEO and for helping your visitors to find other content on your website or around the web that they may be interested in. They tell search engines what the page you are linking to is about, so internal links (links to other pages on your own website) are a great idea.

When creating a link make sure visitors know which page they will end up on if they click on the link by following one of the examples below and by including title and alt tags. 

This is a link to the BBC home page as part of a paragraph.

This is a link on its own. BBC Home Page

Don't put click here as the text, or you'll optimise the link for the term 'click here'.

Keywords

It's useful to include keywords in the body of your text, but some of the best places to include keywords are:

  • Meta description
  • Main heading
  • path (URL) of the page
  • Subheadings
  • The first few words of the article text
  • Links
  • Meta description
  • Image title
  • ...and for your primary keyword: domain name