Search Engine Optimisation for Webpages

A little commonsense goes a long way

Don't be frightened by the spectre of digital marketing. For many businesses, finding your customers online need not cost an arm and a leg.

  • There are many different factors that go into ranking a website for online searches. Some SEO strategies will be useful for your business, some won't. 
  • Each search engine (eg Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Google) sets its own parameters and how much weight (attention) they pay to each one.
  • There are important principles that aren't likely to change.
  • Some search engines have exercised blatant prejudice (cancel culture) against authoritative sources that don't go along with the 'mainstream narrative'. If your site is in that category: unless you want to abuse your conscience for the sake of your website's rankings, there's no way to stop down-rankings in the cause of social engineering.

Google changes its search engine algorithms often. It never lets on just how much weight it gives to each parameter. Search on google - webmaster - search engine optimisation if you want to know more.

SEO jargon

keyword: a word someone types into a search field that relates to the topic they want to find - 'ecommerce', 'webhosting', 'Cooma'

key phrase: like a keyword but it's a whole phrase - 'transport dog to melbourne'

SERP: search engine results page, the page you see after you enter a search into DuckDuckGo or whatever your favourite search engine is. It gives you a list of webpages to choose from. Each has:

  • a  webpage link which uses the page title
  • a metadescription which tells you a little more about the webpage.
landing page: many of your webpages can be 'landing pages' in the literal sense of sitting high in SERPs, drawing site visitors to land first on that page of your site. If you run multimedia marketing campaigns, landing page can refer to a specialised page that your email/SMS/QR code etc links to, asking the contact for specific action: sign up, go in the draw, click here for a discount,order now...
Don't sweat more than you have to

How much competition do you have in the target area or target customer group: local, special interest group, or whatever? How many other sites would you need to beat, to get on high page 1 of search results? If there are relatively few competitors, you don't have a huge task.

Unless you area big company with fulltime website & social media staff, don't bother about trying to outrank the big 'business directory' sites. They have 100s of pages indexed with Google. Unless you maintain a site of comparable size with multiple high quality links, you are unlikely to get ahead of them. Many people skip past directory sites because they prefer to go straight to a real provider's website. Their ultimate goal is to find a good solution to their problem. If your metadescription convinces them that you're well worth trying out, then they don't need to wade through 20 maybe solutions.

Regular webpage updates help create & maintain good search rankings. It takes a little time for search engines to 'notice' updates & lift your site's search rankings. For most small businesses, 'regular' doesn't mean slaving over webstats & new content every week.  

Don't be fooled by your own SERPs

Get a friend or two to search for whatever it is you sell, and find out what they see in the SERP. Preferably not someone who has been to your website before. Search engines filter results to show each of us what they think we want to see. If I search on 'web developer cooma', I will certainly see Bizazz ranking high. But I can't tell from that how our pages rank when anyone else searches.

Think like a customer

If you were looking for a XXXXX, what keywords would you put in the search? These should be prominent on the webpage: ie headings, subheadings, first few paragraphs. Easy! You probably know better than anyone how people talk about what you sell - which words they are likely to search with.

Communicate to humans not searchbots

Write content naturally for people; the page will be better for search engines too:

  • main information highest on the page
  • prominent headings and subheadings that contain keywords. The bigger the heading*, the more notice search engines take of it - just as people do
  • synonyms to vary the text and catch more search phrases, eg marriage ceremony/wedding ceremony/get married
  • no keyword stuffing (artificial, repetitive words obviously intended to jam in extra keywords). It puts people off and can get your site penalised by search engines.
*'Big' for a webpage heading means html code h1, h2, h3 rather than h4, h5, h6 (or normal text). On a Bizazz website, you can control the heading size easily.

For each photo, add a title and alt (alternative) text. These count as extra keywords for search engines to find. They also give another way for people to find your website.

Let's say you own a (plant) nursery. I'm considering buying a gnome for my garden. Looking for ideas, I search on 'small garden gnome'. Because you have added a title & alternate text to your garden gnome photos, such as 'mini garden gnome, ideal for small gardens', I might well find your photos of small gnomes for sale & then I'll visit your site.

Keep pages focussed

Have a purpose for each page, so that you can draw clients to your site by various routes.

Page title & metadescription

These matter a lot. They are the 'heading and paragraph' in the search results page. Whether you'r at the top or not: you want your webpage to stand out as the page where searchers will find the answers they want. Set an enticing, interesting description for each page:

  • in natural English sentences, not a list
  • flow on naturally from the page title (because that is how the customer will read it)
  • closely reflect the page content (otherwise Google might replace your metadescription with their own AI version)
  • include main keywords for that page.

Look at the page title. (It also appears in the tab in the address bar when the page is open.) Does it tell you what the page is mostly about? If not: can you edit it or edit the page to match. Page title needs highly relevant keywords in it. Don't change the page's filename; that will hinder your website rankings.

Google account

Having a Google Workspace account makes a difference to rankings on Google searches.