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Search Engine Optimisation - Part 2

This is part 2 of the Betton Design guide to search engine optimisation (SEO). If you missed part 1 you can find it here. When building a website we take all of these SEO techniques and more into account.

Page Title

Go to any website and look at the very top of the browser window, you will notice a line of text associated with the website and specific page you are viewing. For example, if you go to bettondesign.co.uk you will see ‘Betton Design - Web Design, Graphic Design in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK‘. This is the page title and it is very important when it comes to search engine optimisation.

Another example of where your page title is used is in search engine results. If you look at this diagram you will notice that the Google result for Betton Design also incorporates the page title (the main part of the result in blue).

Page Title Example

The page title should be concise, a maximum of 70 characters will show in your search results. There is no point in having a huge page title as search engines will only look at the beginning part, the rest is superfluous. Generally your page title will include your company name and then keywords in order of importance. Your page title should also be unique to the page you are viewing for example, on the Betton Design website the page title on the Services page is ‘Graphic Design & Web Design Services - Betton Design - Web Design, Graphic Design in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK’. This contains some of the words from the home page title but with page specific information at the beginning.

It is important that you consider the most important key words and phrases that you want to target and use these in your page title.

Alternative Tags

A website containing lots of quality photography will look great from your customers point of view. Unfortunately search engines cannot see the content of an image, this is where the alternative (alt) tag comes in. The alt tag was originally devised so that partially sighted internet users using screen readers could hear a description of the picture.

Alt tags should always be written with screen readers in mind (after all, that is their purpose) but this is also an excellent way to get key words into your web pages. Alt tags should be concise, they should explain the image and they should utilise key words. We always add alt tags to pictures, not only does it help with SEO but it is a requirement as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium. Despite alt tags being a requirement you would be surprised by the amount of website builders who simply don’t add them.

Page Speed

Increasingly, search engines such as Google take page speed into account when ranking your website. If your site takes an age to load then you will be marked down in the search engine rankings. One major factor affecting page speed is the size of the pages themselves, a larger page will take longer to load up and therefore will negatively affect your search engine ranking.

There are a number of ways to decrease the size of your pages. Firstly, you need to make sure all of your images are the correct size and optimised for the web. You should also cache your web pages and compress them using gzip. Caching means that the website isn’t trying to access it’s database each time someone views a page, instead it accesses it’s own store of content and displays that.

Gzip is a technique that is fairly easy for a web developer to implement, it means that all of the white space in the code is removed and the remaining code is squashed together in order to make the files smaller (this is the same technique used when you ‘zip’ files together on your computer). Gzipping is done ‘on the fly’ which means that you retain the original code and your website will still look the same when viewed. These techniques only affect the code that makes up your website rather than the content or what the user actually sees.

Look out for part 3 of our guide which will be appearing on the Betton Design website in the near future. So far we have talked about ‘on page’ SEO, part 3 will deal with further on page techniques as well as some off page optimisation tips.