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Think before you write

If I’m ever asked an impossible question, it’s got to be “How do I make my web pages perform better in Google?” The answer is by paying equal attention to two things: the “optimisation” of the content on each page, and the quantity and quality of external links coming into the page. The best way I can suggest to learn about all this – and a lot, lot more – is to join our very cheap (£100 month!) Insider Programme. You can start as soon as next month. Dozens of companies like yours have joined over the past year, and I know you’ll find it as productive as they are.

Now, if you really, really don’t have £100 to spare each month, then I understand. However, if you’re still wasting your company’s money on wasteful con tricks like “colour separation charges” while neglecting something which actually matters – like appearing above your competitors on Google – then I’m going to have to be blunt: you seriously need to get your priorities sorted out.

But for the benefit of those of you whose marketing budget is less than £100/month, this week I’m going to give you a few fundamental tips for “on-page” search engine optimisation. It’s not the structured approach we provide on the Insider Programme, but I hope it’ll help a little.

“On-page” search engine optimisation is what you can do to your web pages, as opposed to the equally important exercise of getting external links. You need to do both, but for now we’ll just look at making your own pages as attractive as possible to the search engines.

How do we do this? The main thing to remember is that search is all about being found. You need to design every page on your website to be the preferred suggested answer for a particular search. Don’t just write web pages like you would a sales brochure. Think about what searches people might make where you’d like this page to appear at the top of the Google results. If you’re launching a new blue widget which is faster than other designs, you’d probably like to be top of the Google results for “fast blue widgets”. Settle on the important search phrase for the page before you even think about writing anything. Then you can put that exact term in all the important places on the page (which we’ll come to tomorrow). By keeping the important search term at the forefront of your thoughts, you won’t be tempted to use alternative, less specific terminology.

To give an example, let’s say you really are launching a new blue widget which is faster than others, and you decide your aim is to be top of the Google results for “fast blue widgets”. Let’s get that phrase in at every opportunity! If you keep your target search phrase for the page in mind when creating it, you’ll end up writing an effective headline like “New Model Leads Fast Blue Widgets Sector” or “New Model Puts Company Ahead In Fast Blue Widgets. You won’t end up casually writing a headline like “Speedier Widget Launched By Company” which doesn’t contain any set of words likely to be typed into Google by a prospective customer.

Every page on your website needs to target at least one search phrase. If you can’t go back and revisit what you’ve already got, at least make this a consideration for all future pages.

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