13 March 2011

Submitting content - Search Engine Optimisation

If you want people to see your posting, then they have to to able to find it. Before submitting your article, make sure it follows a few simple rules, to help search engines find it and to push it up the rankings when they do.

Each post consists of four elements, namely the title, image(s), text and labels and each of these should be considered with search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind.

The title should be short, direct and include key phrases that
people are likely to search for. Try googling your title before writing the piece to see what comes up. Also, consider who you are writing for, so if you are an architect writing for other architects or planning consultants about small buildings in gardens, then the title might refer to 'permitted development', where as if you are writing for homeowners, they are more likely to search for words like 'outbuildings' or 'small buildings' and 'back garden'. Search engines rank pages based in terms of relevance and popularity. Targeting key phrases in the title will help the engines decide if your page is relevant to the search in question. Repeating these phrases in the labels and body text should be the convincer.

A few good images are better than a handful of so-so ones. Images should encourage readers to click through to the story, thereby improving the page's stats and its visibility on search sites. Search engines rank pages based on how many people click through from the search results so strong images can create a virtuous cycle of traffic.

Remember people search for images as well as text, so use a file name that includes key search terms like those used in the title.

The body text is the bones of your story and should be clear and concise. Everyone has their own style of writing but try to establish an even tone that is approachable but authoritative.

Be specific. If you are writing about a particular event, competition, place, programme or technique, be sure to include its full name more than once. This again helps with SEO. Don't be afraid to piggy-back off someone else' popularity either. If you are writing about your entry into a cover design competition for a Taduesz Borowski novel and someone searches the words 'Tadeusz Borowski competition', you want your story to appear on google ranked above the official competition webpage.

Includes links out of your story where you think this is helpful but don't feel the need to link every single reference. If you generate a lots of hits because people use your link, say for a competition brief, without stopping to read through your work, don't worry as this will only make your story more visible to those who do stop to read it.

Links out of a story count in the relevance stakes for SEO, but links into a story are even better value as evidence of popularity. Therefore, if you feel a link may be reciprocated, then by all means include it and notify the recipient so they can return the favour.

Finally but perhaps most importantly are the labels. You should include three types of labels. First are the key phrases that you have already targeted in your title, image file names and body text. These are essentially for external consumption, i.e. by the search engine sites. Secondly are labels for archiving within the studio 425 site. Look at what labels are already in use and popular and repeat these where they fit. This will create visibility within the site once your post has fallen from the most recent pages.

The final label type is alternative versions of your key phrases. These should be used sparingly but include popular phrases that you do not personally use but know exist (such as 'garden grabbing' for our permitted development story) or misspelt, Americanised abbreviated forms.

Following these simple principles will ensure your content has the best possible chance of being found by the right person.