By cxpartners managing director Giles Colborne
One point most SEO experts will agree on is this; if you want to get high rankings on search engines like Google you must begin by designing for your users.
It’s about great content
You can have the cleanest HTML, perfect semantic markup and clever meta tagging. But if your content sucks, your search engine ranking will drop through the floor. On the other hand, if you have dreadful code but outstanding content, you’ll rise up the rankings.
This is because search engines know that the web is a social medium. They care what other people think of your site. And if other people are reading your content, talking about it and linking to it then they will rank your content. In effect, search results are a vote of confidence in your content.
Design for people, build for spiders
So if you want to boost your natural search traffic, begin by creating compelling content that people want. Compelling content doesn’t mean huge chunks of text packed with keywords. Instead, return to the basics of communication: simple, surprising, concrete stories, then make sure it’s easy to share (a good way to start would be by using short, static, readable URLs) and go out and promote it to friendly and relevant web sites.
Get simple things right
Make sure that text on your site is simply written. Simple text is easier for people (and search engines) to understand. Simplifying the text on your site makes a huge difference to all users. The average reading age in the UK is 12. And to make text easy to read, it's a good idea to aim a couple of years below the target reading age. So, average readers would find a reading age of 10 easy. If that sounds limiting, don't worry. The works of Dickens and Hemmingway have reading ages of just 12. So it's possible to write powerful, evocative copy, even when you're keeping things simple.
One of the great benefits of accessible design is that it brings a natural search engine advantage. Google is notoriously secretive about its search algorithms. But all you need to know is that Google’s search engine rates pages in the same way that people rate pages. It looks at headlines, links text, keywords on the page and so on. So by designing for accessibility, you're also designing for natural search. People ask, “I wonder how many of my customers use screen readers?” - The answer is: all of them, because Google is, in effect, the most popular screen reader in the world.
To ensure your site is accessible, you need to start by going back to your business goals. Remember that you want to help users complete a task, such as finding information, paying a bill, or making a purchase. And you want them to be able to do this no matter how they’re plugged into your system.
So you need a model that shows what steps the users go through (navigation), and what information they need at each step (content). Next you need technology that lets you present the same content in lots of different ways. And you need a policy that considers users’ abilities when you commission your site.
Finally, wrap your site in clean code that’s easy for search engines to read. But above all: put your users first and the search engines will follow.
Five top tips to achieving great SEO
1. Create compelling content - search engines know that the web is a social medium, so if other people are talking about your content and linking to it then they will rank your content.
2. Design for people - return to the basics of communication; simple, surprising, concrete stories that people want to read.
3. Use simple text - The average reading age in the UK is 12. And to make text easy to read, it's a good idea to aim a couple of years below the target reading age. Simple text is easier for people (and search engines) to understand.
4. Make your site accessible - Accessible design brings a natural search engine advantage. Google’s search engine rates pages in the same way that people rate pages.
5. Wrap your site in clean code that’s easy for search engines to read.
For SEO training, contact the experts at The Knowledge Engineers who can help you to achieve SEO success.
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