OPTIMISING WEB PAGES

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There is a huge amount of information available on how to optimise your website and it can all be a bit confusing, often repetitive and hard to keep up with the latest techniques.  So here, I thought I would reiterate some of the main points and the most effective strategies to optimise your webpages.

Content

Content, of course is one of the main factors when it comes to optimising your website.  Make sure it is concise, relevant and to the point.  Internet users generally haven't the time to be scrolling through yards of padding and even those long sales letters we've become so used to are falling out of favour -- the trend is now for shorter sales letters.

If you have a lot of content, it may be better to split it up into different pages, rather than force your readers to keep scrolling down a single page.  One tip though is to make sure they can navigate back to the main page.  You may even want to make sure each additional page opens in a new window as it is so easy to become lost in a large website with too many pages.

When writing your content, make sure your visitors know exactly why your product is better than your competitors’.  You have to spell it out and emphasize what your URL is if you want to stand out from the huge numbers of other websites your customers can choose from.

Provide something useful, educational or inspirational when it comes to your content.  People primarily use the Internet for information, so it is vital that you give them what they want -- believe it or not, from a consumer's point of view, buying a product or service is usually secondary to gaining information.  It's not difficult to put together something interesting about your subject or product range.

Use keywords only when they make sense -- avoid littering your content with obvious keywords because this will work against you, both with regard to readers and search engine spiders.  Aim for no more than 15% keyword density in your content.

Within site links

Make sure you link the pages of your website with all the other pages within your site, as this will go a long way to optimising your site for the search engines.  Try also to have links at the bottom of each page in addition to any other links.  This is another good reason to have additional pages to break up the information.

Headlines

Page ranking is determined by several factors, not least the quality of your headlines.  You should use keywords within all your headings and try to keep keywords close to one another if you can.  You can also bold and otherwise emphasize words in your headings.

Headline should be short and jargon free.  Consider long and hard before you choose your headlines as they can be key to making or losing sales.  Visitors often scan through headlines for anything of interest, rather than read the text, so headlines are vitally important.

Always stay focused on benefits in your headlines and consider your customers as a matter of priority -- don't risk turning them off with bewildering headlines for the sake of getting your keywords in.

Site maps

Site maps, although not seen so often now, can be a good way to pull your site together and be helpful for visitors -- especially if they get lost on your site.  A site map can even be submitted to search engines (in some paid versions of site map generator tools) and help to optimize your site in the search engines.

Meta tags

Meta description tags are used to describe your website and most experts agree that they should be short and sweet -- not exceeding two lines, even though there is no word limit on Meta tags.  The main thing to remember about Meta tags is that they should contain your important keywords and describe what your site is all about.

Fonts and colour

Fonts can make a huge difference to the way your website looks and it is well worth playing around with different fonts in order to present the image you're trying to project to your visitors.

Try to create branding with your fonts and colour and tie-in other elements of branding such as your logo, illustrations, photographs and so on.

The main thing to remember about colours is that they really do create a particular mood, so consider this carefully before you choose your colours.  Colour is very important when it comes to branding and creating that important corporate identity and a recent study showed that just by looking at a colour, people in the street were able to associate it with a certain brand.  For example, everyone associated a particular shade of purple with Cadbury's chocolate and similarly, pillar box red was associated with Coke.

Make sure your colours differentiate you from your competitors and are uniquely yours.