Achieving Higher Search Rankings

(Search Engine Optimisation)

In General: Simplicity Returns

Any website should retain a simplicity that gets it seen on a mobile phone. This means three columns maximum, and better when fewer, and a succession of _blank target links to pages, especially where images are involved. PDF files should stand alone (a _blank target link!) and not held within a browser. The website should obey the rules search engines set, unless there are good reasons to do otherwise.

Keywords and Meta Data

Accurate, searched for Keywords at the head of a webpage can be useful, perhaps requiring research, but placing these is basic.
Converting these into a pay per click advertising out would show how effective they are: for what people are actually searching. Even thinking on these lines is more effective. Do not just add search words and sentences in huge quantities: search engines will discriminate.
These days search engines actually use page text content, so the keywords are less important. Therefore I have adopted a practice of using fewer of them, and simple descriptive header sentences.

The Keyword-Based Link

The advert link paid or unpaid should have the simplest most direct title (what is offered) and the easiest accessible content.
A website with a theme or themes regarding its own content should have links out. So a website for Learning has links out to other learning websites.
There need to be good links out to relevant websites. This way a website can be a relevant portal. Choose websites already well visited, even if competitors. Go direct to relevant internal pages when a website is highly varied in content.
I have plenty of learning content, and yet also a page that is for other learning websitesClick for this external page and use the back button to return. The problem is links maintenance, when external URLs get changed. It is actually better to have links from content-rich pages, but I would rather manage links on one page.
Content is always superior. Search engines will find it and they will capture it and keep it for searches. A page should be simple in its text and image (media)-description, to facilitate the search engine spiders crawling through. Use titles within the text that facilitate categorising. Even if search engines do not have library-like indexing, it helps to classify and categorise internally. The menu and search system is part of this as well as titles and internal links between them within pages.

What to See (for Visiting Numbers and Time Spent)

There is a trend currently for videos, and this is a mistake. People don't have time to hear and try to remember: what they want is to scan-read and even copy and paste. A video soon rejected is a customer-unsatisfactory loss; relevant text found and read is at least a partial success. It indicates what else might be available and easily accessed.
There is the A/ B test (aka. Bucket test or Split test) that can be carried out regarding the effectiveness of content and its presentation. A website contains a particular content but two different presentations of that content, say two different designs. So, present both; or vary when one can be seen and then the other. See which is preferred by consumer survey or just according to traffic number and retention statistics. Which is better appreciated? Which is most effective? After a test, scrap the least effective, unless each format serves different clientele.
Also, when changing a website design or means to the content, give both old (if updated) presentation and new for a test period, and see what happens via the statistics of use and retaining viewing times. So if there is a video, contrast text and video use, for example.
There is something called a Conversion Rate. This is where a webpage offers something that requires physical activity: a click, a message, a purchase. The conversion rate is the proportion of people visiting the site that go on to do the task wanted. This is where an A/ B test is at the most critical.
Here is an annoyance I have about the BBC website. I go to it for further information on a programme, and all I seem to get these days is video links to programmes, to watch online. I want text - something to read. If I watch a BBC Four programmeClick for BBC 4 Webpages, I come to the website and would rather read the text of the programme that see a video of it again. It is repeated often enough on television: what I want is to read the same. Notice also that the BBC is so large that it has given up on all but the most basic of menus in favour of search boxing. My websiteClick on this to go the home page has menus to every page.
If the BBC ever carried out an A/ B test of a programme video page and a programme script page, I know where I would go. As it might take a click to run a video, it ought also to take a click to reveal the text of a programme script. I'd click for text and I wouldn't for video. Plus, many people have download restrictions so video content takes them to their monthly limit faster.
An A/ B test can be on the simplest change. 'Submit' or 'Get X Free' button variations usually has the latter as more successful for a Completion Rate. Don't deceive, however, if in that case there is nothing free. Buttons that mislead or confuse (e.g. adverts with buttons that confuse downloading a program with downloading something else being advertised) soon lose repeat traffic through irritation and annoyance. (This leads to another point: monitor any advertising for interference in the success of the actual website content.)

Using Social Media

Connect the successful website and its content, including renewed and new content, with social media like Facebook. There might be a Facebook page to connect all the time with a website. Share a similar name. Facebook is a common route to a website. Search engines use Facebook to monitor social traffic. Facebook might well be the means to carry out an A/ B test, but don't overdo it and annoy the punters.
Twitter is also a considerable means of traffic direction. Again, search engines find this activity. Retweets are productive.

Blog A Lot

Blogging should advertise new content on a website with the relevant links added. Guest post writers add to the variety, as do interviews. Blogging as marketing still means relevant, worthwhile, interesting content. A blog that is regular in its updating, and well-maintained, gets read, and a well-read blog that has links takes the core website further in traffic. The best blogs now are expertise guides, that is how to get from A (where most people are) to B (a new level of knowledge and understanding). This may need outside writing. The blog may replicate parts of the knowledge-based website itself, but not all of it. Leave something for the connection to be made.

Public Relations as a Whole

There needs to be a Public Relations strategy. So each launch of a real world or online event (something new) has a new or renewing online presence. So a blog happens, a link is made, advertising is paid for, and an attempt is made to make the news on some relevant news-making website. Something, say, like a Creative Learning CentreClick for Hull's Creative Learning Centre Website should have promotion and make the local news, and all local news is global on the Internet.
Ask the visitors who come to the page. This means feedback within the website: email links and text areas for comments. Another common, although often irritating feature, is the pop-up asking viewers to comment on the website by a survey during the visit. Still, any comments can be useful for the purposes of layout, design and the menus. Invite them and give the means for them to be made.


Adrian Worsfold