Last week we discussed search engine optimisation (SEO) and read The Beginners Guide to SEO to start considering the SEO measures we might use for our own sites.
One of the class activities we engaged in was trying to think of keywords for our site and then to Google these keywords to find our competitors.
This was an interesting exercise and we discovered that keywords like ‘social media’ and ‘communications professionals’ were too broad and meant that we were potentially competing against large generic sites like Wikipedia and well-established web sites that would always outrank us like Social Media Today.
Choosing key phrases that were specific to the five social media platforms we are focusing on provided better results and some key competitor sites started to emerge, such as:
- Social Media Examiner - a site that had been identified previously as a potential competitor.
- Socialbrite: Social tools for social change - a website dedicated to helping nonprofits and social enterprises with social media.
- Inc. - a website dedicated to ideas and resources for small business and entrepreneurs.
- Chris Brogan – a website about how human business works, beyond social media.
As a result we will check the html coding behind these sites. In particular, the pages below performed well in Google searches.
26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts, Social Media Examiner
26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Business, Social Media Examiner
10 beautiful nonprofit WordPress themes, Socialbrite
50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business, Chris Brogan
Good SEO isn’t just about ensuring a search engine can easily see and navigate all the elements on a website, it must be equally easy for humans to find what they are looking for.
SEO checks that we will make for our website will include:
- Ensuring web content is relevant, well-written and easy to understand – including adjusting content, if required, as a result of user feedback.
- Checking the site is structured in a logical way and it is easy to find information – including adjusting information architecture, if required, as a result of usablity-testing on the final site.
- Refining our master list of keywords and page keywords.
- Using keywords and phrases in headings and sub-headings, links, body text and alt text, without overusing them.*
- Checking how our competitor sites have optimised their pages for search.
- Checking the html mark up of our pages, deleting any unnecessary code that may have been introduced by writing content in the WYSIWYG editor and ensuring that all page elements are tagged appropriately, e.g. <h1> tags for headings etc.
- Ensuring that headings and sub-headings are descriptive and searchable – not generic (e.g. ‘Ask us a question’ – need to be more specific than this).
- Checking that all diagrams, screen shots, photographs and videos are described clearly with appropriate alt tags, captions and descriptive text to ensure that the site is accessible, as well as optimised for search engines.
- Creating an online community through our Q&A Forum.
- Providing useful outbound links to provide an information resource to users. For example, we will provide permanent links to external sites, such as Mashable, Read Write Web, Social Media Today, mUmBRELLA and CompuKol Communications as well as displaying an RSS feed of the latest social media news from Google News, and a Twitter feed in the sidebar menu.
- Inviting our users to interact with us through social media – Facebook and Twitter.
- Checking what a web browser sees on our site, by using seobrowser.com and making any necessary adjustments.
*Keywords should also be used in the website url, domain name and meta title and description tags. These are all key areas for achieving a higher ranking in Google, which we would address if our project was ongoing.To increase visibility in Yahoo, keyword meta tags should also be added. Unfortunately WordPress.com does not allow for meta tagging.
Other SEO issues we encountered were that our website url firstname.lastname@example.org is not descriptive of our content, not easy for a search engine to find and not easy for our users to remember. We would also change the page structure of our ‘Getting Started with’ pages to have one key focus of information per page, rather than using anchor links and ‘back to top’ links.