Optimised for Google...that seems to be a common phrase thrown around by many website designers.
But what does it mean? What are they doing, or perhaps more importantly, what are they not doing?
Optimised for Google should mean, at a base level, that your website has all the content, structure, data and meta data to make the best use of where Google (other search engines also exist!) looks when deciding where to place your website in search results.
For your website alone, that covers lots of areas which should be completed by any website designer who is stating that they optimise your website for Google or any other search engine. Let's have a quick look at what can be done for any website created using suitable software or content management systems like WordPress or Joomla. All of these areas are used by search engines when ranking your website, so they are all critical to complete:
- Page content
Building the words and phrases that your business needs to be found by into the page content for visitors to read is very important. If the words and phrases you need to be found by never appear on your website then it is extremely unlikely your website will ever be found by anyone typing those words into a search engine. Even when you provide the text to your web designer or web agency, ideally they should be providing a few little tweaks to the wording unless you have used a professional copy writing service who has done all of this work for you.
- Page and browser titles
When you are on a website, the browser (such as Edge or Chrome) will put a bit of text on the tab or window you are using. This should be unique for every page, suitably worded to describe the page, but also short. Too much text here is not a good thing.
- Image names
Imagine naming a photo 'DCM12345.jpg'. Doesn't really tell you anything about the image, what it is. Search engines can't see pictures themselves, only the file names of them. So they should be named well - perhaps 'website-design-services-in-carlisle.jpg' to give a good indication to search engines of what the image portrays.
- Image alt tags
For those website visitors who need the page read to them using screen reader software, it is always recommended to set the 'alternative text tag' for all images, as this is what will be read out by the screen reader software when it gets to the image. As with the image name, make it something useful - 'An example of a website design in Carlisle' for 'example'.
- Menu structure
When you click on any page within a website, the link/URL shown in the browser address bar will change to reflect what page you are on. Normally the home page has nothing except for the main website address, but if you have a website with a 'Services' menu that has drop-down options below, the menu naming should be sensible and give an indication of the content of the pages, e.g.:
A useful link which search engines may use when presenting the structure of your website in results.
- Meta descriptions
Every website page should have a unique and short (ideally 150 characters, otherwise the rest don't get shown in search results) description that search engines often use to display beneath the link in search results. Not only is this important for helping your ranking, it is also useful to make sure your potential visitors and business customers can quickly see what this page is about before visiting. A great chance to pull them in and encourage them to visit!
- Link titles
Whenever there is a link created on a website page to another page on your site or even to a different website, you can set the 'title' of the link. This often pops-up if you hover your mouse over a link, but is also like the image alt-tag - used by screen readers to help limited sight visitors know where they will end up if they follow the link.
- Correct business details
Critical to ensure your business is viewed as accurate and who you say you are by Google is to make sure your business address, phone number and contact details are the same across all of your website and also on any website directories such as yell.com and others. Keeping all of this matching helps the search engines know that you are offering a clear and consistent business to everyone.
This base of search engine optimisation is just the beginning, as search engines now use your entire online presence across social media and business directories etc. to decide where to place you and rank you in search results, but getting all of this done well in the beginning can make life much easier in the longer run.
We do all of this as standard for any website. It may take a little longer, a little more thought, but the benefits significantly out-weigh any costs or time involved as it is usually much harder to go through the process once a website is finished than it is to manage it all during the creation.
If your web designer is not doing all of these things then you are missing out. On customers and on business. There is never any guarantee that this base level of SEO will get the results you desire, often an on-going and/or more in-depth SEO service is required (such as our own services here), but without this initial work the time and effort involved is much higher in the long run.