Making sure that your website is found: search engine optimisation
Once you have developed an online presence, the next challenge is making sure people know about it. You could choose to promote it offline, in brochures, business cards,
on your physical shopfront and in flyers, while online methods include adding the link to your website in staff email signatures.
To attract new customers who may be interested in what your organisation offers but have not yet heard of your business, you may wish to consider options to improve your
ranking in the results provided by search engines.
Searching is one of the most frequent activities people do online. People often find an organisation’s site by typing the organisation’s name or words describing the services
and products it offers into a search engine. By designing a website around relevant keywords the chance of a good ranking against that word or term in search engine results improves, helping increase
traffic to your site.
Search engines aim to provide the most relevant results in response to a search term. They go to great lengths to analyse and index websites, and to weed out websites that use
questionable techniques to maximise their search engine ranking.
While search engines treat their methods for ranking websites as a closely guarded secret, some of the more generally accepted factors which that help improve website search rankings include:
Text based design
Headers and links
Links from other sites
You can use some of these techniques yourself if you are designing your own website or content or engage specialist SEO providers to assist in maximising the ranking of your
site. Some open source web content management systems (such as WordPress and Joomla) also provide a step-by-step guide to completing effective SEO strategies.
You should be aware that questionable practices may sometimes be used to improve site rankings, especially around links. The Search Engine Guide provides an explanation of
some of the SEO techniques to avoid, Don’t Risk Your Rankings With Unethical SEO.
An effective SEO strategy can help provide a consistent long-term position with search engines; however it takes time. If you are running a campaign and need instant results
you need to think of other strategies like search engine marketing or banner ads.
Tagging content and using metadata
Whilst having current, relevant and interesting content is important, it is
only useful if it can be found.
One of the most important ways to ensure content is found by any form of search is to tag it. This means applying a label with additional information
called metadata. Tags and keywords are especially important for non-text content items such as images, animations and multimedia
You can discuss with your web developer which tags and keywords are appropriate for your website to increase the discoverability of your content, both within the site and in
search engines, or exclude certain pages from search results.
Tagging content and using metadata
A tag cloud displays the tags associated with a set of content—maybe a single web page, a website or related websites. It is usually presented using variable font sizes and/or
colour to highlight tags belonging to the most popular content on a website. A tag cloud also provides a visually striking overview of all of the themes in a particular piece
When a tag cloud contains links from the tags to the most relevant page or to a list of search results containing that tag, it can be a powerful navigation tool because it
allows people to explore the content of your site via themes.
Excluding content from search engine results
There are tools that can help increase the discoverability of your website by search engines, such as the Sitemaps Protocol.
Tags or metadata can also be used to exclude content from search results, like pages presented during the payment process for online transactions.
This assists customers, members, donors and supporters to find relevant information about businesses and organisations more easily without picking up any irrelevant or
unnecessary information in their searches.
For the web-savvy
One method of excluding specific pages from a web search is to use the robots attribute. This attribute controls whether or not search robots are allowed to index a page. It
is supported by several major search engines.
Search robots: an automated software program that methodically visits web sites and reads web pages. Based on the information they find, search robots create entries in
search engines’ indexes to help determine search results. Search robots also called ‘web crawlers.’