What is SEO and why is it important?
Search engine optimisation or SEO for short, is about increasing the number and quality of visitors to your website from search engine results pages, without using paid advertising.
If you want more business, you have to be visible online and you have to stand out from the rest of the competition.
On-page search engine optimisation
We’re going to look specifically at what you can do to optimise the pages of your website so that they appear higher in search engines and get you more relevant traffic from potential visitors. We’re also going to focus on the content those visitors can see on the webpage, but also the HTML code which sits behind the page.
In the video guide, we covered four tips on:
- keyword research
- how to use the keywords
- making your content interesting
- easy to read and links.
Let’s go into more detail now.
You want to try and find out what keywords – words and phrases – visitors are entering into a search engine when researching their holiday to Scotland.
Now you have a list of keywords, we need to find a natural way of including them on your own website pages.
Every page on your website should ideally have a primary keyword you are targeting, and a list of secondary keywords.
Imagine you are a B&B near Loch Ness, called Nessie House. You are creating a page on your website about things to do near the B&B.
So your primary keywords for your new page might be:
- Things to do near Loch Ness
Now you need to include these on each webpage in the following ways:
These appear to a user at the top of your browser when you’re viewing that webpage, and as the title in search results pages.
- Keep it accurate and concise.
- Include the primary keyword.
- Include the name of your business at the end, using a pipe or dash to separate the two sections.
- Make it no longer than 70 characters (including spaces).
For the new page on the website of Nessie House, the Title Tag would be:
- 14 Top Things to Do Near Loch Ness | Nessie House
This description shows up with the title tag on a search results page.
- Sell your content – make it sound exciting and be clear that it’s what the user is looking for.
- Include the primary keyword again.
- You have up to 160 characters (including spaces).
- If you don’t have one, a search engine will tend to use a line of copy from somewhere on the page, which might not be relevant.
- If it doesn’t describe the page very well, the search engine can also use a snippet from the page which does a better job.
- Discover the best things to do near Loch Ness, including visiting Urquhart Castle, Invermoriston Falls, Fort Augustus and more!
This is the web address you use to visit a website and each page.
- A URL is not just functional – it also shows the user what they’re going to get.
- Every page needs a unique and clear URL – words not numbers and characters.
- Short, concise URLs are better.
- Make every URL easy to read for users.
This is the main title or heading on each webpage.
- Every page should only have one main heading (or H1).
- Keep them short, descriptive and easy to understand.
- Include the primary keywords.
- They’re often similar to your title tags, but without your business name.
All of this information is seen not just by a user but is read by a search engine and used in different ways to decide what your website or webpage is about.
- 14 Top Things to Do Near Loch Ness
Interesting and easy to read content
With a subject matter as beautiful as Scotland, every tourism business has to include amazing images guaranteed to attract any visitor! But imagery also helps a potential visitor to get a better idea of your business and what they will get if they book an experience with you.
Images make your content more interesting and memorable to users, but they can’t be read by a search engine unless you help them.
For every image you add to your website:
- Give it a filename which is descriptive and clear, including keywords if appropriate.
- Add alt (alternative) text which is used for web accessibility, as screen readers will read it out to visually impaired users. This means the alt text should be a clear description of what is going on in the image but keeping it short using those keywords if relevant.
- Keep the file size small, as the bigger the file size and the more images, the longer your webpage will take to load. If a page takes too long to load, a user might give up and go somewhere else. HOW TO OPTIMISE?
- Add a caption, which should be visible on site – this can be useful for including locations or describing what the image is of, if it’s not already clear.
In our fast-paced world, users don’t tend to read a webpage in a great amount of detail. They will scan the page looking for the information that is relevant to them, so it’s important you structure your page with the important content at the top. Again, if someone can’t easily find what they need or find something interesting, they could go somewhere else.
- Put the most important information at the top.
- Split pages up into sections using headings. You have one H1, but you can have multiple sub-headings using H2s, H3s, H4s and so on.
- Use bullets and numbers for lists.
- Don’t be afraid to have ‘white space’ on the page, allowing the user space amongst all of the relevant links, images and text.
This article itself is a good example of how to use headings and bullet points.
This is how you link between the pages on your website and is really important for SEO and user experience, as it helps search engines to find your content and navigate through the website.
This is the main way search engines find your content – so no links to a page, means it might not be found at all.
- Your site should have a main navigation bar with the main sections of your site.
- Make sure every page is linked to from the page that sits above it – so if you have six pages which sit under the homepage, they should all have links on the homepage. Apply this throughout your site.
- You can also use text links within content to link elsewhere to other relevant pages or use whatever options your website has for buttons or image links.
- Don’t link for the sake of it though – each links needs to be relevant, and the place you link from should give context.
Content above the new page:
Relevant content to link from to the new page:
Relevant content to link to from the new page:
Outbound links (links to other websites)
Normally, you want visitors to stay on your website and make a booking with you, but there can be occasions where you should link out to other websites.
Linking to other relevant, trustworthy websites can help search engines and visitors understand more about what your content is covering.
- If a page on your website, Galloway Heights, is talking about what else you can do in the area, such as driving the South West Coastal 300, you could link to https://www.visitsouthwestscotland.com/south-west-scotland-tourist-routes/.
A featured snippet is a short summary of an answer to the keywords a user has typed into a search engine – instead of returning just the list of links, a search engine tries to answer the question with some short copy and a link.
The search engine can take the following from your webpage for this area, at the top of a search results page:
- Short paragraph
- Youtube video
As a featured snippet sits at the top of the page, it can really help your website to sit in this spot. They’re becoming more common for different search terms and help with mobile and voice search.
Tips on how to help you get this spot:
- Your SEO needs to be good enough to get you onto page 1, as most of the websites that get the featured snippet come from the first position on that first page, while the rest come from position two to five.
- Make sure your content answers that keyword question or phrase effectively.
- Create your on-page content in a digestible format using short paragraphs, numbers and bulleted lists, tables and Youtube videos, which makes it easier for your copy to fit in this space.
More searching is now done online on a mobile than on a desktop computer, so it’s essential your site works and works well on mobile devices. The importance of mobile is always growing, and Google now stores mobile pages rather than desktop pages in their index.
- Always check how your content looks and functions on mobile.
- Test your page speed at https://testmysite.withgoogle.com/intl/en-gb.
Check out our Topic Library for more great digital advice from Digital Tourism Scotland.
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