Ten tips for search engine optimisation

Saturday, 30 May, 2020

Since Yahoo abandoned paid search engine listings in 2002, the search engine market has been dominated by free services from Google and Microsoft’s Bing subsidiary.

Google and Bing (which powers Yahoo and Amazon’s Alexa, among others) compile results based on the perceived relevance of websites in response to specific search strings.

If you were to search for ‘broadband deals’, our broadbanddeals.co.uk website would appear at or near the top of listings.

That’s thanks to a variety of factors.

For one thing, we’re a British brand. That means our co.uk website address suffix is deemed to be particularly relevant to searches originating in the UK.

For another, the phrase ‘Broadband Deals’ appears many times across our website, including the site address. This suggests it’s highly relevant to keyword searches for ‘broadband deals’.

To prevent cheating and fraud, Google and Bing don’t publicise the exact composition of the mathematical algorithms which determine how their search engines rank sites.

These algorithms are constantly scanning websites, snouting out new content and following web links to see which sites connect to each other.

While some aspects remain a mystery, we know that certain search engine optimisation tips are vitally important for anyone with a public-facing website.

After all, the vast majority of first-time visitors will reach a website by clicking on a link in either Google or Bing results.

And since three-quarters of searches don’t proceed past the first page of results, these ten search engine optimisation tips should ensure your site receives a higher level of traffic…

  1. Add content regularly. Google is constantly trawling for revisions, and sites with active news/blog pages are seen as more valuable than those whose content never alters.
  2. Add social media posts with inbound links. Bing places particular value on social media content linking back to your site, so being active on Twitter and Instagram boosts SEO.
  3. Create internal links. Ensure each webpage links to several others on your site. This keeps people engaged for longer, and search engines view long site visits as a sign of quality.
  4. Squeeze in keywords everywhere. Don’t just populate page text with them. Use them in photo captions and file names, page titles and sub-headings, meta descriptions, etc.
  5. Change hosting service. If your website is on a shared server, it might download slowly. Search engines penalise sluggish pages, so choose the web host with the most (servers.)
  6. Reduce on-page content. Boost loading times (and rankings) by stopping video files autoplaying, compressing photos, removing plugins and spreading content across extra pages.
  7. Avoid duplicating content. If you want to acknowledge someone else’s work, add a hyperlink to it. Plagiarised or duplicated text is heavily punished by the search engines.
  8. Use natural-language phrases. With many searches carried out via smart speakers, web text that matches search sentences (‘where can I get a good broadband deal’) performs well.
  9. Build links to third-party websites. Wherever possible, add links to your site on other platforms. This demonstrates your content is worth leaving those sites to view.
  10. Use schemas. These engine-agnostic pieces of structured web data summarise page content. Examples include events, reviews and offers, which appear alongside results.

A word of warning

It’s worth noting that some search engine optimisation tips have fallen out of favour in recent years, as Google and Bing have refined their algorithms.

Stuffing your website with keywords to the detriment of readability is one example, while hyperlinked anchor text (often displayed in so-called ‘tag clouds’) is another.

Avoid page addresses like siteaddress.co.uk/page1, which say nothing about your content. A siteaddress.co.uk/aboutus URL is more descriptive, and should achieve superior results.

Finally, paying an overseas company to provide loads of inbound links to your website is a sure-fire way to be downgraded (or even blacklisted) from future search results.

If a marketing agency or web designer suggests any of the above as shortcuts to achieving a high search engine ranking, thank them for their time and walk away.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!