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SEO in 2016

Google handles around 3.5 billion searches every day, which means ensuring that your website appears high up for the relevant searches is more important than ever. This process is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

It's not a new concept, and you've probably come across it before, but here are some simple steps you can take towards improving your website's position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Clean code

Google's crawlers (the algorithims that scan websites in order to index them in the search engine) don't see websites like you do. They only read lines of code, which means your website code needs to be written to facilitate them as much as possible. This means ensuring your code is properly nested, your markup uses the correct tags and there aren't excessive or unnecessary lines of code (making your website bulky). Speak with your website developer to find out how they keep their code as clean as possible.

Meta information

When you search for something on Google, the results display a page title and a brief description of what each page will contain (see below). This is called meta information. All pages on your website should have relevant meta data which helps both crawlers and users understand what each page is for. Some people try to trick the crawlers by writing custom meta descriptions which are completely different to the contents of the page. If you do his however, you will eventually get found out and risk having your site black-listed.

(You can see the Page Title (red) and Page Description (blue) in Google's SERPs here)

Page weight

The weight of a page affects loading times, and Google's crawlers look for fast-responding pages where possible. This means you should optimise your images, videos and other media so that they're as lightweight as possible (in terms of filesize) without compromising on quality.

Write for humans

Although crawlers determine web-page rankings, they will assess the quality of the content on your pages by looking at how users interact with it. If your content is useful, helpful and engaging to the user, that will be reflected in where the crawlers decide your page should appear. So, forget about keyword-cramming and trying to trick Google into giving you a better ranking; instead focus on delivering quality content for your target audience.

Fresh content

Google constantly sends out new crawlers and shuffles the indexing of pages on the web; this is to ensure the SERPs are as up-to-date and helpful as possible to people using the search engine. To cater for this, you should be producing fresh and engaging content that your audience will find helpful. Not only does it show that your business is at the forefront of your industry, but it also helps Google to rank your website as one that consistently provides for its users.

The Golden Rule

Too many people view SEO from the wrong side of the coin. Instead of asking "how can my website best help my target market?" They ask "how can I get my website onto page 1?" or "how can I climb the rankings?". Google, and therefore their search engine, is a company that pulls out every stop to ensure that the user comes first. This includes ranking web content so that users are presented with a list of the most helpful pages for their search terms. If you focus your energy into providing and promoting quality content, the rise will happen naturally.

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