Search engine optimisation, keywords and page ranking weren’t a factor when our company was formed seven years ago. When planning our website my brief was pretty simple make sure our website was WC3 compliant, inclusive and that copy was written in Plain English.
In terms of promoting the website our communications strategy was simple, our website address was included in all our branding. As a social housing provider we didn’t have to think out of the box in order to reach our captive audience.
Ever changing technology
Move forward seven years and the world has changed not only is our website barely compliant but we don’t appear in search engines for keywords relating to all the things we do. Our Content Management system is not as flexible as we need so we are restricted in terms of how we can improve. As I mentioned our audience is a captive one, our web address appears on letters, fridge magnets and all paper publications. So we are easily found but what about you?
The following are important things to consider when planning your blog:
Even if you are blogging for fun the branding of your site is important even if it’s just a logo, it’s good to have something that people will identify with your blog. Think about the design of your blog and the colour scheme. Will you use a logo or will you use an avatar for branding? Will you buy a custom domain or will you start off using the free blog spaces like WordPress.com? What about vanity URLs? Try to establish your brand from the start and build on it as you grow.
If you are here then you already know what you are going to write about so I will skip that and talk about writing style. What kind of writer are you? Think about how you will write your posts and write in a style that is comfortable for you. There’s no point in trying to maintain a style that isn’t you. If you are not funny, don’t try to be funny. If like me, sarcasm is your go to place, remember that it doesn’t translate well to text without some signposting.
When thinking about web design for your blog you should make sure the site will be accessible in popular browsers. You can draw the line at Internet Explorer 6 as many designers simply refuse to code for it. Your website should be mobile friendly as more and more people read websites on their smart phones.
Companies pay thousands to bespoke Content Management providers and then get locked in when technology changes. Pretty soon a site that was once compliant fails to pass or just scrapes through.
As a blogger you need to make sure your website is future proof. That means when technology changes your software can be updated with minimal or no cost to meet those changes.
Open Source (free) software such as WordPress and Joomla continually march with the times.
When adding images you should always add descriptive alternative text for the purpose of speech readers. It’s also an opportunity to add relevant keywords to your image description as these count towards search engine optimisation which is our next topic.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Whenever you enter a search term in Google and hit ‘enter’ you get a list of web results that contain the keywords you entered. The pages listed nearer the top are optimised for the words or term searched for.
There is a lot to learn about SEO but the simplest example I can give is this:
If you are writing about weed killer, your page title, URL and body copy should contain the word weed killer. The more times weed killer appears in your body copy, the better you will rank. But you can also be penalised for over use of keywords. Your content must be relevant and also reflect the other pages on your website. There’s no point in talking about weed killer if you aren’t blogging about gardening.
Getting your content and keywords right from the first blog post saves you having to go back through hundreds of pages later to rewrite your copy.
If you want to learn more about search engine optimisation then The Beginners Guide to SEO is a good place to start.